When TH Plastics was faced with a confusing and difficult in-mold labeling challenge, they needed a cost-effective solution, and quickly.
“They had a very, very small processing window,” said BJ Tully, account manager at DuraTech. “We needed to find a solution that could keep the program on schedule.”
A long-time DuraTech partner and collaborator, TH Plastics is a custom injection molder based in Michigan, with facilities in Ohio. The two companies have worked together many times to create in-mold labels (IMLs) for backsplash assemblies used in GE appliances. DuraTech prints the labels and TH Plastics handles the molding process.
In 2022, GE was looking to launch a new washer and dryer program and wanted to use a different finish in the printed label. They worked with DuraTech’s team to create a custom label which was tested and went through a trial production run before moving to larger scale production.
The problem came during downstream assembly when GE engineers noticed the ink was cracking on the IMLs. Engineers and quality technicians didn’t see any sort of ink cracking in the IML itself before it was molded, and then once it was molded, the ink cracking would appear.
Part of the problem was that black ink shows more stress than some other colors. It is also harder to cure black ink in the printing process, which can affect flexibility. If the printed ink isn’t flexible enough, it can crack or present other issues. Because the project had a short timeline and TH Plastics wanted to avoid making any process changes in their production line, they needed a cost-effective solution that wouldn’t significantly delay production.