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Keywords of this article:  injection molding 
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injection mold 
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Blowliner Medium with a material throughput of up to 130 kg PET per hour.
Blowliner Medium with a material throughput of up to 130 kg PET per hour.
Photo: 1234

With the development of the single-stage injection stretch blow-molding machine Blowliner, the Kiefel daughter company, Mould & Matic, has opened up a new market. The machine is now in use in the pharmaceutical and food industry.

It is available in three sizes. The bestseller is the Blowliner Medium with a material throughput of up to 130 kg PET per hour. Like its smaller and larger siblings, it also processes PET, PP and HDPE. Thanks to its intelligent concept, it can be upgraded to multi-layer applications at any time.

Above all, the premium sector, which attaches great importance to the high quality and transparency of packaging, and where the quantities are between three and 20 million, values the 1-stage system.

Bernhard Hornhuber, sales manager for blow-molding technology, developed the Blowliner and is rightly proud of his baby: "Customers really appreciate the fact that they get the complete line - from granulate to packaging - from a single source."

A look at the details

The injection molding unit is at the beginning of the linear machine. This is a vertical hydraulic Engel machine with up to 4,000 kN clamping force and a clamping surface of up to 800 x 1000 mm - depending on the size of the system. The plasticizing unit processes PET, PP and HDPE. Here the preforms are created; depending on the product these range from eight to 64 cavities.

Each machine can be upgraded with a unit for the production of multi-layer preforms. This permits production of preforms made of PP with barrier layers of EVOH or PET with PA. Still warm, they are removed by a linear robot with a gripping mandrel and the preforms are transferred to the stretch-blow unit with a clamping force of up to 400 kN.

The machine works with one to four-rows blow tools that accept preforms with diameters from 10 to 150 mm. Each series of cavities has its own pre- and main blow valve so that the pre- and main blow pressures can be set individually. This makes it possible to run different product variants on one tool.

The entire stretch-blow unit has servo motor drives that provide exact repeatability, precision and energy efficiency. The valve technology makes it possible to set the pilot and main blow pressures in increments of 0.1 bar. A customer-specific blow study determines the optimal material distribution in the blow mold during the proving process.

Optionally, process monitoring can use pressure sensors to measure the main blow pressure while it is applied. If the pressure drops unexpectedly, the plastics processor immediately receives an alarm message. If a customer wishes, the Blowliner is available as a spray-blower without the stretching component.

At the end of the blowing process, the vacuum gripper of the integrated linear unloading system removes the finished products from the tool and places them precisely on a conveyor belt or directly in boxes.

Smart tool technology

Many considerations flowed into the tool technology during the conception of the Blowliner. The solution lies in a balanced hot channel tool with a needle lock system.

The capacity for different product sizes and tool configurations, however, was by no means everything. Quick tool changes should be included, which can even be handled by a single operator if necessary. An air cushion tool carrier for the injection mold and one on rollers for the blow mold make the quick change possible while a hall crane is unnecessary.

The tool changes are easy and the operator uses the equipping carriage to move the tool to the machine and quickly and ergonomically changes the injection mold by means of a cable pull and roller conveyors. 

High vertical integration

One Mould & Matic customer produced four different items on his Blowliner M for the first two years. Fast tool changes and high flexibility regarding size and design of the preforming and blowing tools were essential. Then one of the articles was discontinued. He had to change from a 30 ml vial to a five liter container. This variety was realized with the company’s tooling technology.

Except for the injection molding machine and the hot channel system, all components of the Blowliners are from Mould & Matic. The entire machine control and software comes from Micheldorf and is programmed in Beckhoff.

To optimize process reliability, camera inspection of the containers and a leak test are optionally available. The company advises on the choice of materials and the design of preforms and bottles. The preforms determine the cycle times of the stretch-blow process, therefore the material distribution in the final product and thus wall thicknesses. In other words, intelligent preform design realizes material savings and higher cycle times.

The Blowliner M permits cycle times of ten seconds, the little brother Blowliner S can even manage less than eight seconds. This gives the market a spray-stretch-blow technology that plays in premiere league when it comes to top league quality, flexibility and productivity.

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