Img preview

Definition and development of functional barriers for the use of recycled materials in multilayer food packaging


Type of information: NEWS

In this section, you can access to the latest technical information related to the BANUS project topic.

Prepared for the future - Intelligent injection stretch blow moulding for high flexibility, productivity and quality

Honey,ketchup, detergent bottles, cosmetic and pill packaging or baby bottles - theproduct variants that are created on the Blowliner of the Kiefel daughtercompany Mould & Matic from the Austrian town of Micheldorf are just asdiverse as their design. With the development of the single-stageinjection-stretch blow moulding machine, the plastics specialist has opened upa new market. Although he was a newcomer in the blow moulding industry, successhas not been slow. Bernhard Hornhuber, sales manager for blow mouldingtechnology, 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". In the cosmetics, themachines are now in use pharmaceutical and food industry, the order books arewell filled and in the halls of the Austrian the technicians are producing moreBlowliners at full speed.

The machineis available in three sizes. The bestseller is the Blowliner Medium with amaterial throughput of up to 130 kg PET per hour. Like its smaller and largersiblings, it also processes PET, PP and HDPE. Thanks to its intelligent concept,it can be upgraded to multilayer applications at any time. Above all, thepremium sector, which attaches great importance to the high quality andtransparency of packaging, and where the quantities are between three and 20million, values the 1-stage system. Hornhuber gets to the heart of the reasons:"Our clients produce sophisticated packaging. They must meet high qualityrequirements regarding transparency and dimensional accuracy. Most customersproduce medium quantities and they want the flexibility to produce differentcontainers with volumes between 10 millilitres and 5 litres on the samemachine. The Blowliner fulfills all of these wishes and thus contributes tosustainable high plant utilization at our customers".


A look at the details

A closerlook at the design of the Blowliner reveals this. The injection moulding unitis at the beginning of the linear machine. This is a vertical hydraulic Engelmachine with up to 4,000 kN clamping force and a clamping surface of up to 800x 1000 mm - depending on the size of the system. The plasticizing unitprocesses PET, PP and HDPE. Here the preforms are created; depending on theproduct these range from eight to 64 cavities. Each machine can be upgradedwith a unit for the production of multi-layer preforms. This permits productionof 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 aretransferred to the stretch-blow unit with a clamping force of up to 400 kN. Themachine works with one to four-rows blow tools that accept preforms withdiameters from 10 to 150 mm. Each series of cavities has its own pre- and mainblow 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. Theentire stretch-blow unit has servo motor drives that provide exactrepeatability, precision and energy efficiency. The valve technology makes itpossible to set the pilot and main blow pressures in increments of 0.1 bar. Acustomer-specific blow study determines the optimal material distribution inthe blow mould during the proving process. Optionally, process monitoring canuse pressure sensors to measure the main blow pressure while it is applied. Ifthe pressure drops unexpectedly, the plastics processor immediately receives analarm message. If a customer wishes, the Blowliner is available as aspray-blower without the stretching component.

At the endof the blowing process, the vacuum gripper of the integrated linear unloadingsystem removes the finished products from the tool and places them precisely ona conveyor belt or directly in boxes.


Smart tool technology

Manyconsiderations flowed into the tool technology during the conception of theBlowliner. Hornhuber recalls: "Our goal was to increase the number ofcavities and thus productivity with additional optimized cycle time forexisting plants. At the same time, we wanted to enable our customers to makeoptimum use of the machine. It should be possible to use the hot side of thetool to manufacture very different products in terms of size and thus number ofcavities. This gives the user a very high level of flexibility in their production".The solution lies in a balanced hot channel tool with a needle lock system. Onequestion is primary to each new order: which products does the customer want tomanufacture on the machine today and what does the future hold? Even if atwo-rows 12-cavity tool is initially used for products with an article weightof 15 g, the same hot side can later be used for products made of PET, PP orHDPE with, for example, 35 g article weight. "The customer is prepared forfuture developments and can react quickly to new challenges", clarifiesHornhuber. Before Mould & Matic manufactures the series tools, the companyfirst builds test tools and optimizes the end product for them.

Thecapacity for different product sizes and tool configurations, however, was byno means everything. Quick tool changes should be included, which can even behandled by a single operator if necessary. An air cushion tool carrier for theinjection mould and one on rollers for the blow moud make the quick changepossible. A hall crane is unnecessary. The tool changes are easy. The operatoruses the equipping carriage to move the tool to the machine and quickly andergonomically changes the injection mould by means of a cable pull and rollerconveyors. Satisfied Hornhuber reports: "A complete tool change from goodpart to good part takes only five to six hours for a trained technician. Ifonly the blow-form is being changed, this can be handled within 30 minutes".


High vertical integration

Inpractice, these many little details are worth gold. One Mould & Maticcustomer produced four different items on his Blowliner M for the first twoyears. Fast tool changes and high flexibility regarding size and design of thepreforming and blowing tools were essential. Then one of the articles was discontinued.He had to change from a 30 ml vial to a five litre container. "No problem",says Hornhuber. "This variety can be realized effortlessly with ourtooling technology".

Except forthe injection moulding machine and the hot channel system, all components of theBlowliners are from Mould & Matic. The entire machine control and softwarecomes from Micheldorf and is programmed in Beckhoff. To optimize processreliability, camera inspection of the containers and a leak test are optionallyavailable. The company advises on the choice of materials and the design ofpreforms and bottles. The preforms determine the cycle times of thestretch-blow process, therefore the material distribution in the final productand thus wall thicknesses. Hornhuber affirms: "Intelligent preform designsaves money because we can realize material savings and higher cycletimes."

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

» More Information

« Go to Technological Watch

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, technological development and demonstration (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [606572].

AIMPLAS Instituto Tecnológico del Plástico
C/ Gustave Eiffel, 4 (Valčncia Parc Tecnolňgic) 46980 - PATERNA (Valencia) - SPAIN
(+34) 96 136 60 40