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In-mold labeling makes the rounds.

One of the last frontiers for in-mold labeling (IML) in blow molding is its use with round bottles. The challenges have been placing the label in the cavity accurately enough for precise registration and keeping the cycle-time penalty to a minimum. Those challenges have been overcome, says Gary Carr, product manager for container machinery at Bekum America Corp., Williamston, Mich. Through a joint marketing agreement with Autotec Inc., a Toledo-based maker of IML insertion robotics, and MultiColor Corp., a Cincinnati producer of PE and PP film labels, Bekum now offers a turnkey IML system for round and oval bottles, as well as handleware. The system is offered fully integrated with Bekum's new double-sided shuttle machines, either the BM-505D or higher-cavitation BM-705D. These units are built with the electronics for IML integration.

Newly commercial this year, one IML-equipped machine system has already been sold to a U.S. processor. The process was demonstrated in prototype form at the NPE show in Chicago last year, where an eight-cavity mold with 100-mm centerline spacing produced 2100 bottles/hr.


Personal-care items are the initial market targeted for round bottles with IML, where the label's seamless incorporation into the bottle and non-peeling performance are its main attractions. "We want to achieve almost full wraparound of the label to the bottle," says Carr. Label edges can be as close as 3 mm on either side of the parting line. Label registration is accurate to [+ or -]2 mm, slightly better than is achieved with other IML units for flat bottles, says Carr. An added benefit of IML is the ability to reduce bottle weight by thin-walling. "You obtain bottle strengthening with the label," says Carr.

IML may require that the cycle be run up to 1 sec slower to get proper cooling of the bottle and label, though in some commercial applications no extra cooling time is needed. In addition, there is a penalty of 1.0-1.5 sec for insertion and retraction of the label robot. So a round bottle could take up to 12.5 sec/cycle with IML versus 10 sec without it, according to Carr.

The label-insertion system, designed by Autotec expressly for these Bekum machines, features a four-magazine assembly, each with four lanes - i.e., a front and a back label magazine for each end of the double-sided machine and one lane per cavity in each magazine. Each label position is independently adjustable vertically and horizontally. A magazine can hold 6-8 hours' worth of production capacity.

The IML technology is part of the bottle takeout system and has placer arms that pick up the labels and position them in the mold. The IML system, though integrated with the machine, is operated through a stand-alone console next to the machine control, so a processor has the option of running with or without IML.

The printed labels, manufactured by Multi-Color, use a PE or PP substrate and proprietary adhesive that doesn't blister, shrink, or cause other problems when the cold label is put in contact with the hot parison prior to blowing. The labels are readily recyclable with the bottle.
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Title Annotation:use of in-mold labels in round bottles
Author:Knights, Mikell
Publication:Plastics Technology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 1998
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