The In-mould labeling (IML) process is quickly becoming the preferred method to decorate and print on high volume plastic surfaces. This is mainly due to better print registration that is achieved when printing directly on an IML label. With inexpensive label pricings, the cost to value comparison between IML and legacy printing techniques is making this process more and more affordable by the day.
Aalmir Plastic Industries (API) is able to carry our large scale IML projects with ease, our automation department along with a network of established suppliers/partners are fully capable of covering all aspects from design to manufacture of your part. Whether it is a tray, container, tub, bucket, bin, decoration or technical assembly unit, API has the resources available to meet your requirements.
Short run IML solutions
The IML process still does have it’s limitations, however, for example; in most cases IML has been only been adapted to simple and plastic shapes that are produced in high volumes ( i.e.; high volume packaging containers). The reason for this is that there are 3 main components to this process, the automation, the tooling and the label itself which make it expensive to carry out short runs.
API Short run IML possibilities
The Automation process
|requires strict and accurate control of movements so that the labels can be inserted into the mould at the right time, every time, and as quick as possible. This is normally done with the help of robots that can ensure repeatability. This means that each IML item requires a specific and customized automation cell designed to work with the shape of the product and label. The cost of building and customizing such a system is rather high and would generally need a rather large production run for investments to be amortized.||The problem:
High quantities and simple standardized shapes are required for project to be feasible.
API’s automation department has developed a series of modular automation cells that can be set up to run shapes of various geometries with minimal investment cost ( 1/10th of a purpose built cell). Because of our modular design, we are able to provide IML to items for complex shapes and short run production of even 5000 pcs.
The Tooling process
|Moulds that are used for IML applications are required to be very precise and stable. This is because of performance requirement that must ensure steady cycles to work harmoniously with the automation cell and therefore reduce amount of rejects. loss of calibration due unstable production results in machine down time and wastage of material.||The problem:
Precise and accurate moulds for short run production are expensive.
API’s utilizes a variety of standard 1 cavity mould blocks and systems that allow for interchangeable core and cavity inserts. This allows us to make short run inserts from soft steel at economic prices and at very fast lead times.
|The Label||IML labels can be made from a variety of substrates depending on application requirements, shapes and sizes are set by article surface area and are cut based on dimensions and final label layout.||The problem:
IML labels have generally been mass produced to offset the cost of screens and plates. some label manufacturers have MOQ ‘s and may not be willing to produce less than a certain quantity, thus making labels for short runs very expensive or hard to come by.
API and partners routinely keep stock of IML substrates that allow for digital printing, therefore providing cost effective labels for shorter runs.
Functional IML solutions
As coating, laminating and printing technologies have advanced, so have the abilities to manufacture function specific labels. API is now able to offer custom engineered IML labels that can serve an aesthetic purpose and also a function.
- Function specific labels
- Non slip surfaces
- Scented labels
- Security labels
- Barrier labels
- Peel off labels
- Scratch-able labels
- RFID labels
- Gas sensitive labels