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The brand new quality in packaging: 3D design by IML

Сase studies

Bogdan Zabrzewski, the Managing Director of WITTMANN BATTENFELD Polska. based in Grodzisk Mazowiecki, Poland.

The production of packaging by IML ranks among one of the most challenging tasks for plastics processors. The Polish company VERTEX based in Ozorków (north of Lód´z) is one of the most innovative companies in this area. VERTEX started in 2012 with the production of IML packages featuring a 3D effect, achievable by a special process.

1

Packaging element made by VERTEX with 3D effect, produced with IML technology.

Until recently, a 3D effect on printed material invariably required special (relatively expensive), thicker 3D labels, plus a special printing technique. VERTEX has now succeeded in developing a process which makes it possible to achieve a 3D effect with one-dimensional standard labels.

On conventional IML containers, the labels are attached to the outside of the packages. With the IML technology used by VERTEX, the label is affixed to the inside of the package. The 3D effect is then generated on the outside, which faces the viewer, and in this way the effect can be achieved with conventional standard labels.
The production costs of these very special IML packages are directly comparable with those for packages produced by traditional methods. The advantage of this approach is that the additional costs for this type of 3D effect are hardly noticeable.

How the 3D effect is created
If a conventional IML label is used, as is done at VERTEX, the 3D effect is generated by the special structure of the injection-molded part itself. This special structure is created directly on the surface of the plastic part by the injection molding process. This requires a special mold with the necessary structure incorporated in its cavity walls. From there, it is transferred onto the plastic part during injection molding.

VERTEX has already been using this technology successfully for some time in actual production and is continuously improving the process. Now applications for flat plates have become available, but achieving a 3D effect on curved surfaces is still a major challenge.

The use of this advanced technology, however, is not limited to food packaging only. VERTEX is constantly on the lookout for new applications. Meanwhile, a great variety of plastic products are being manufactured with a 3D effect generated by this method, such as DVD and CD packages, toys (e.g. 3D puzzles) and costume jewelry.

2

VERTEX production line at the plant in Konstantynów Lódzki.

The VERTEX injection molding equipment
To make these special 3D packaging products, twelve injection molding machines from WITTMANN BATTENFELD are operating at the VERTEX production plant. The clamping forces of these injection molding machines are ranging from 180 to 240 t. All these machines are equipped with laterally operating single-axis W737 servo robots from WITTMANN; moreover with auxiliary equipment – machine and mold cooling equipment as well as FEEDMAX material loaders – also designed, built and delivered by the WITTMANN Group.

The processing machines are toggle machines from the WITTMANN BATTENFELD TM series. To produce the package lids, a TM 180/750 UNILOG B6 with 180 t clamping force is used; the tubs are injection molded on a TM 240/750 UNILOG B6 with 240 t clamping force. The IML systems are fitted with label magazines which can be exchanged between the individual production lines, and the manual mold height adjustment facility allows for extremely fast and flexible product changeovers.
For WITTMANN BATTENFELD, the cooperation with VERTEX is an outstanding example of realizing a comprehensive system solution, entirely true to the motto of “everything from a single source”.

Constructed in 2012, the VERTEX production plant in Konstantynów Łódzki was completely equipped by WITTMANN BATTENFELD with injection molding machines, automation systems, peripheral equipment and machine cooling systems.

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