Here Is Everything You Need to Know About Blow Molding
In the United States, The plastics industry is the 3rd largest manufacturing industry. Plastics make our lives easier and help us produce things more cost-effectively.
One of the ways we do this is with a process called blow molding. Blow molding is all around you and you don’t even know it. That soda that your drinking has a plastic bottle, which was blow-molded.
But what exactly is blow molding and how does it work? Read on to find out!
What is Blow Molding?
Blow molding is a process used to manufacture plastic products. The process involves heating a plastic tube (known as a preform or parison) to its melting point and then putting that into the cavity of a mold.
They then use compressed air to inflate the molten plastic like a balloon so that it takes the shape of the mold but is hollow inside. The amount of plastic used and the air pressure determines how thick the final product is.
The History of Blow Molding
Blow molding has its roots in glass blowing, where a craftsman would heat the glass to its melting point and then blow through a tube to inflate the glass. Blow molding has been around since as far back as the 1800s. A patent from the time shows the process of blow molding being used with celluloid polymer. These early methods were not suited for mass production.
In the 1930s, they developed commercial machines to manufacture blow molded bottles and made mass production possible. The materials available were too brittle and took too long to produce to effectively utilize the process to make large quantities.
Blow molding exploded into industrial prevalence with the creation of low and high-density polyethylene. This revolutionized many industries including the soft drink bottling industry and the automotive industry.
What Can You Make with Blow Molding?
You can make just about any hollow plastic container with blow molding, but the process isn’t limited solely to bottles. Here are some commonly blow-molded products:
- Construction Barrels and Barriers
- Stadium Seating
- Fan Housing
- Toys and Sporting Goods
- Watering Cans
Blow molding is also widely used in the automotive industry and makes the design and mass production of auto parts simple and cost-effective. Here are some commonly blow-molded automotive parts:
- Automotive Ductwork
- Liquid Reservoirs
- Mud Guards
- Storage Systems
- Electrical Covers
Blow molding has a wide variety of uses and is a great way to produce a large number of parts inexpensively.
The Basics of the Blow Molding Process
There are a few different types of blow molding. Their differences lie mostly in how they form the parison, the size of the parison, and how the parison moves between the molds. The main types of blow molding are:
- Extrusion Blow Molding (EBM)
- Injection Blow Systems (IBS)
- Injection Stretch Blow Molding (ISBM)
Modern blow molding is a largely automated process, allowing for the production of thousands of parts in a short time period. The process of blow molding has the following steps:
- Plastic pellets are fed into the machine via a hopper or screw depending on the machine.
- The plastic then melts and is shaped into a parison, which looks like a tube with a hole at one end.
- The parison is clamped in place inside the mold.
- Compressed air inflates the parison.
- The heated plastic balloons to fill the space of the mold.
- After the plastic cools, the machine opens the mold and removes the part, sending it on to any applicable finishing, if any.
With IBS and ISBM, a preform replaces the parison. A preform is a tube with a single hole made ahead of time through injection molding. A single preform design might be used for several different designs of blow-molded products and is another way to streamline production in some cases.
Blow Molding Materials
There are a variety of plastics that are suited for use in blow-molding:
- Low and High-Density Polyethylene
- COP and COC
The wide variety of materials available for use in blow molding means that you can use the process to develop parts to fit your exact needs.
Advantages of Blow Molding
There are many advantages to the blow molding process over other forms of plastic product manufacturing. Blow molding is a cost-effective alternative to injection molding, with both production and machinery being cheaper typically.
Blow molding works well for products that are one single piece. It can produce objects that do not require assembly or the connecting of halves. Blow molding is particularly effective for containers that require exterior threading.
Blow molding also reduces flash. Flash is the little burs or plastic bleed around seems of products. This excess plastic from the production process requires extra finishing work to sand off or remove it before a part can be shipped. Blow molding techniques create little-to-no flash, resulting in quicker turn around times for blow-molded products.
Your Product’s About to Blow Up!
Choosing blow molding to bring your product to life is a great solution for mass producing simple, effective designs without spending too much money. We have a talented team of trained professionals who can take your product from idea to reality. We’ll work with you throughout the design and production processes to ensure that the end result is a product you can be proud of.
Contact us today so we can assist you in getting your product out of your head and out into the world!