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New IML Process Lessens PP Shortage and Price Rising

The new IML process, which uses thick paper labels as most of the structure of plastic containers, can greatly reduce the amount of resin used and alleviate the impact of resin supply shortage.  

Prices of PP and other resins have skyrocketed due to the tight supply of chemicals and plastics production in the Gulf Coast due to winter storms. This may be the best time to adopt a new injection-molded packaging concept. New IML technology can reduce plastic usage by 76%.

Muller Group, Swiss thin-wall packaging and In-mold Labeling (IML) mold and automation specialist, collaborated with Sweden's Artsplast on mold and IML automation technology, which replaces up to 76% of PP in dairy cups by injection molding a thin skeleton on two sides of IML thick paper labels covered with PP. Artplast calls it the "fiber cup" concept, which has been applied to cheese and yogurt containers in Europe.

Muller sales and marketing director Taras Konowal says more and more applications are emerging, including 1-liter dairy containers. The north American market is also beginning to show interest in the resin due to tight industrial molding supplies. At present, German coated paper labels are provided by Europe, but Muller Group is exploring supply sources from the North American , Muller’s mold in the North America is still manufactured in Europe.

Konowall explains that these tools add complexity because each flow channel is strictly closed when it is not needed. So far, Muller has made up to molds with eight cavity for the technology. Konowal added that due to the small amount of the plastic moulding supplies, injection was required to be very precise. So far, Netstal and Husky machines have been used successfully.

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