Muller Technology’s in-mold labeling (IML) automation system for the production of 5-gal pails is designed to reduce cost, improve productivity, and enhance graphics and product appearance. The company says its new IML system offers improvements over standard pressure-sensitive and printed systems that can be time-consuming and require double handling of parts.

Unlike Europe, where IML has gained strong penetration in a range of packaging applications, Muller notes that the technology has been slower to develop in North America. However, label suppliers are predicting 40% growth in North America this year for industrial pail IML with brand owners and molders driving the demand, according to Taras Konowal, Muller’s North America director of sales and marketing.

“Our IML technology enables pail manufacturers to add to their product offering without any infrastructure changes, enabling them to maintain a small footprint and limiting costly scrap,” says Konowal.

The one-piece IML system is less than 8 ft wide compared to competitive IML systems that are 12-14 ft wide. It is designed to fit conveniently into non-IML production lines, require no adjustment in floor layout and fit any injection molding machine height. The IML system places the wraparound polypropylene (PP) label into the mold, removes the pail after molding and transports it to a visual inspection station. The pail is then directed to stacking and handle assembly. Systems can be converted from 1-cavity to two-cavity to enable the production of 1- to 5-gal pails.

A key feature of Muller’s IML system is digital label placement positioning which provides precision and detailed label placement. The system also reportedly has quick changeout capability from pail size to pail size and label to label. Rotating dummy mandrels allow label seams in different locations.

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