Extrusion blow molding
In Extrusion Blow Molding (EBM), plastic is melted and extruded into a hollow tube (a parison). This parison is then captured by closing it into a cooled metal mold. Air is then blown into the parison, inflating it into the shape of the hollow bottle, container or part. After the plastic has cooled sufficiently, the mold is opened and the part is ejected.
EBM processes may be either continuous (constant extrusion of the parison) or intermittent. Types of EBM equipment may be categorized as follows:
1. Continuous Extrusion Equipment
- Rotary wheel blow molding systems
- Shuttle machinery
2. Intermittent Extrusion Machinery
- Reciprocating screw machinery
- Accumulator head machinery
Examples of parts made by the EBM process include dairy containers, shampoo bottles, and hollow industrial parts such as drums.
Basic polymers, such as PP, HDPE, PVC and PET are increasingly being co-extruded with high barrier resins, such as EVOH or Nylon, to provide permeation resistance to water, oxygen, CO2 or other substances. In dairy applications, it is possible to extrude a black light-blocking layer in the center layer of containers, with opaque white resin used in the inner and outer layers.
Compared to injection molding, blow molding is a low pressure process, with typical blow air pressures of 25 to 150 psi. This low pressure process allows the production of economical low-force clamping stations, while parts can still be produced with surface finishes ranging from high gloss to textured. The resulting low stresses in the molded parts also help make the containers resistant to strain and environmental stress cracking.
Accumulator Head Machinery is used for the extrusion blow molding of large industrial hollow parts. Examples of parts produced on this machinery include drums, trash cans, automotive panels, playground equipment, and large containers, such as Jerry Cans, for liquid storage. Most parts produced on accumulator head machinery are single layer; however, specialized machinery is capable of producing parts with up to seven unique layers of plastic - these machines are used primarily to manufacture automotive gasoline tanks with barrier layers.