An Ohio company that offers document services is entering the in-mold labeling market with what might be a major technology play. Competitive in-mold offerings generally use identical materials such as polycarbonate label with a polycarbonate part or a polystyrene label with polystyrene part. Compatible melt indexes are critical, creating complications when a plastic is highly filled. “A lot of work goes into matching the like label with a part to insure it bonds well and looks good,” says David Coughlin, director of operations of Industramark, which is being introduced at the National Plastics Exposition this week in Chicago. “This truly is a challenge and a good part of the reason why in-mold labels have not taken off outside of prime labeling applications that are typically only polypropylene.” Working with Fusion Graphics, also of Dayton, OH, Industramark has developed a 7 mil micro porous film. “We do not depend on like chemistries for bonding but rather the plastic (any thermoplastic) being molded flows into the micro bonds and makes a permanent bond to the label. Based on our relationship with Fusion Graphics and their patent position, we have a novel solution that makes other in-mold products obsolete and very complex.”
Labels are not new to Industramark’s parent, Standard Register. They accounted for 13 percent of revenues last year. In response to a question from Design News, Industramark did not provide information on the material used for its in mold labels. A patent awarded to Robert Freund of Waynesville, OH in 2007 describes a new IML technique based on a precipitated silica-filled microporous sheet material. If properly coated, the material is well suited to the IML task, according to the patent. The novel system also requires special inks. The technique is said to not only to improve quality of graphic images, but also to cost less. A wide range of materials, including thermosets, can be used.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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