Film processes IMD und IML cleverly combined
Three at one go at Fakuma

In one of the cavities, a control display is taking shape in what is called the dead-front design with touch sensor. In the adjacent cavity, a component is being made with faux-concrete surface aesthetics that can be lit from behind. At the Fakuma trade show, KraussMaffei and Leonhard Kurz were demonstrating the degree of functional integration made possible by combining the IMD (in-mold decoration) and IML (in-mold labeling) film processes.

Text Petra Rehmet  Photos KraussMaffei

The IMD and IML film processes are indispensable for premium-quality, functionally integrated decoration of plastic surfaces. In combination, they make it possible for the processor to manufacture components with embedded electronics efficiently and flexibly. Thanks to the IMD SI Duo film feed from Kurz, now even multiple-cavity molds can be fed with single-image decors—something that used to be practically impossible.

Initial independent positioning of two IMD strips yields clear benefits

The IMD SI Duo film feed is the world's first-ever solution capable of positioning two film strips running side by side individually in the x and y-directions, and it is accurate down to a few hundredths of a millimeter. As a result, it can supply two-cavity or multiple-cavity molds. This solution makes it possible to use different film designs, combine single-image and continuous decors and manufacture an extremely wide range of articles.

Live demonstration at Fakuma

For the Fakuma application, the two companies were taking functional integration to the next level. In the rear right cavity of the all-electric PX 320, an HMI (human-machine interface) display measuring 100 x 240 mm was being created in the popular dead-front design with a UV-hardened layer of paint for scratch resistance and a touch sensor inserted using IML. The sensor activates a light source when the surface is touched, revealing previously invisible operation icons. At the same time, in the second cavity (front left), the same component is being created with faux-concrete surface aesthetics that can be lit from behind.

Initial use in series production

The IMD SI Duo has already passed its first test in a high-volume automation application on a KraussMaffei machine. The NBHX Trim Group, expert in innovative surfaces for vehicle interiors, uses it for manufacturing decor panels for the A and B classes of Mercedes at its location in Codlea, Romania. For this purpose, the device has been integrated into an injection molding machine of the GX 900 type.


Philipp Lachner

Product and Technology Management Surfaces