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MuCell technology for packaging
Trexel, Inc has introduced its MuCell 3D In-Mold-Labeling (IML) process for packaging applications. This process creates the look of embossed labeling on the package without any need for additional tooling costs. Instead the “embossed” look comes from the enablement of 3D labels.
The 3D IML combines MuCell technology with IML label technology to offer a special visual appearance and soft touch effect to packages, providing differentiation without changing the container shape. The 3D in-mold label is processed with an injection-molded tub made of expanded polypropylene to incorporate selective masking, creating areas without adhesion. The MuCell process controls the introduction of nitrogen into the polymer. Where there is adhesion between the label and the polymer, the nitrogen migrates through both structures. Where there is no adhesion (by design behind the blue lettering), the nitrogen accumulates between the polymer substrate and the label. The process creates bubble patterns or Braille for a multi-sensory experience.
An application using this process, the Paccor/Unilever 500g polypropylene Margarine Tub with 3D IML, won the DuPont Packaging Silver Award in 2013. This application also featured 6% material reduction, 40% clamp tonnage reduction and 15% cavity pressure reduction.
FFS line with in-mold labeling for dairy packs
At the upcoming Interpack in May, company Illig will launch its newly designed FSL 48 form, fill and seal line with integrated IML (in-mold labeling) to meet the demands of the food industry, and especially the dairy industry.
The IML is employed to decorate packs directly in the thermoforming process. Most conventional cup geometries which can be produced on form, fill and seal lines can be realized. The FSL 48 can be equipped to meet a variety of different hygiene requirements by the food industry through to hygiene class IV according to VDMA (hygienic filling machines). The thermoformer’s format area of 480 mm x 320 mm is designed in such a way that, for example, 12 standard dairy packs can be manufactured. A working speed of up to 30 cycles per minute can be achieved. The IML unit, integrated in the forming station, works with printed blanks from the magazine. Therefore different decoration options can be realized: one-sided, two-sided, three-sided (for example U-shape), four-sided or even five-sided (including bottom decoration, for example, with integrated barcode). A wide variety of cup shapes can be decorated as in IML walls to be decorated do not have to be vertical.
All conventional materials suitable for processing on FFS lines can be processed on the FSL 48, including PS, PP, multilayer materials (e.g. PS/EVOH/PE), APET and even foils made of PLA biopolymer (polylactic acid). This also applies to the heat-sealable lid materials.
Combination of IML and oxygen absorber technology in thermoforming
The presence of oxygen reduces the shelf life of packaged products. A new oxygen scavenger solution combines in-mould labelling and oxygen absorber technology in a thermoforming process. This 'active packaging' solution for the pet food segment was jointly developed by the companies Albis Plastic GmbH and RPC Bebo Plastik.
Due to the employment of the additive batch Shelfplus O2 both the oxygen that penetrates the packaging from outside and the oxygen within the head room is absorbed. The additive batch offers protection for sensitive contents such as dye stuffs, vitamins, grease or oils, whilst maintain the taste and quality. Dimensional stability after mechanical stress, the low CO2 balance along the entire product lifecycle and the variety of possible shapes are further features of the new packaging over previous solutions, according to Albis Plastic.
A high-barrier thermoforming mould with sterilization-resistant in-mould label and oxygen absorber as active components attracted great interest at the recent Fachpack in Nuremberg where the packaging solution was presented for the first time.
Verstraete: 16 live demonstrations of IML systems
Verstraete in-mould labels partnered with 34 companies at the K, running 16 live IML systems showing solutions for Oxygen and Light Barrier IML, MockUp IML, DoubleSided IML, Metallic IML and Peelable IML.
Roboplas produced a 200ml rectangular container with Metallic IML, based on the combination of Arburg’s injection moulding machine and Erkoc’s IML mould. The use of Metallic IML preserves a metallic look, even when a producer moves from metal packaging to plastics, and gives the product a high-end quality look.
Automation producer Well-Lih demonstrated the production of a 200ml yoghurt cup, using Pass Card’s mould and an Arburg injection moulding machine. Wittmann produced three IML products: a 300ml cup and a 13l container, both with Verstraete’s Metallic IML as well as a hockey stick. Italian automation producer Campetella produced a 5l container with Metallic IML labels in close collaboration with BMB and Top Grade Molds. Swiss mould producer Müller showed a rectangular lid with metallic IML, resulting from its collaboration with Ferromatik.
Wetec’s automation capabilities were seen at four different partners’ booths, for example, the company was producing a 700ml container with lid, using Metallic IML on a combination of Jon Wai Machinery and Nypro Tool.
BMB was partnering with Star Automation and Collomb, showcasing a 5l container with a Wrap Around IML label. Machine producer Tederic produced a 1l pail in collaboration with Campetella and Tecnopool.
Stork and Brink teamed up to demonstrate two IML products together: a 150ml container with a three-sided IML label and a 2.5l paint container. Automation producer Polymac presented a 4l container in collaboration with Stork. Interestingly, the container was produced with Peelable DoubleSided IML labels. These labels are printed on both sides, offering space for extra information, such as suggestions on how to use the product, an incentive to participate in a competition, or legally required labelling information, and more.