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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1104

Principle of extrusion

Principle of extrusion bow molding [1] Shiseido URARA extrusion blow molded Ingeo shampoo bottle (photo courtesy of NatureWorks LLC) is retained and utilized to orient the final bottle, thus thicker sections stay hotter and stretch further while thinner, cooler sections will stretch less. In many injection stretch systems, the preform is transferred from the injection mold into a conditioning station that can be used to heat or cool sections of the preform to adjust the final container’s material distribution. Depending upon the system, this conditioning station may include IR reheating lamps or touch-off cores to cool sections. Finally, the preform enters the blow mold and a process similar to reheat stretch blow molding is employed to produce a container. Experience with biopolymers in injection stretch blow molding applications is more limited than RHSB systems. Injection stretch blow molding PLA containers takes advantage of the material’s heat capacity and does not require reheat additives to produce a high quality container. In addition, the stretch ratios for single-stage containers tend to be lower than RHSB containers. Other biopolymers that are capable of producing packages on two-stage equipment would be expected also to be suitable for single-stage blow molding. Extrusion blow molding (EBM) is a process in which polymer is melted and then extruded through an annular die head into an open tube called a parison. The parison is then pinched off as the chilled mold closes around the plastic and then blown into a final container shape. Unlike most RHSB and ISM applications, in EBM, the threaded area forms during blow molding. After blowing, the mold opens and the container is ejected. Frequently, excess plastic in the neck and base requires trimming outside the mold. Extrusion blow molding is commonly used for polyolefin or amorphous materials and requires sufficient melt strength to form the parison without collapse. Both continuous and intermittent EBM systems exist, with the type of system depending upon the equipment supplier and desired throughput rates as well as on melt strength. Lower viscosities (melt strength) may require an accumulator. Ingeo PLA extrusion blow molded containers were introduced in 2010 with a modified PLA blend. The modification provided improved melt strength to the polymer to allow for the parison formation. Bio-based PE and PP are drop-ins for their petrochemical counterparts for extrusion blow molding applications. In addition to these biopolymers, PHA also targets replacement of PE and PP in extrusion blow molding applications. First extrusion blow molded PHA bottles (PHB/PHV copolymer) for shampoo were introduced in Germany and the USA in the mid 1990s. However, they disappeared from the shelves and are now waiting for their renaissance. www. plastictechnologies.com [1] Thielen, M. et.al., Blasformen, Carl Hanser Verlag 50 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/11] Vol. 6

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