Stretch blow molding

Stretch blow molding produces a part with biaxial molecular alignment. In the process a preform, or parison, elongated mechanically in the mold and than expanded radially in a blowing process. A desirable resulting molecular orientation yields a material with increased strength. This means that products that are strength-based designs can be produced using less material than if they were to be produced using simpler blow molding techniques.
A goal in stretch blow molding is a designed work material developed by producing desirable molecular orientation. In order to produce and retain desired structure and specified properties the stretching and blowing processes need to be carried out at temperature lower than in other blow molding processes and the allowable temperature range will be smaller and so more difficult to control. A temperature conditioning station in-line is required, or a re-heating operation needed for preforms allowed to cool before use or for purchased preforms. This increased the difficulty of process design and operation and material specification since polymer properties depend on temperature history, e.g., on temperature, time at temperature and number of temperature cycles.
Important polymer properties to be considered:
Tensile strenth and yield above Tg
Effect of orientation on gas permeability through the polymer
In the Stretch Blow Molding (SBM) process, the plastic is first molded into a "preform" using the Injection Molded Process. These preforms are produced with the necks of the
bottles, including threads (the "finish") on one end. These preforms are packaged, and fed later (after cooling) into an EBM blow molding machine. In the SBM process, the preforms are heated (typically using infrared heaters) above their glass transition temperature, then blown using high pressure air into bottles using metal blow molds. Usually the preform is stretched with a core rod as part of the process. The stretching of some polymers, such as PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) results in strain hardening of the resin, allowing the bottles to resist deforming under the pressures formed by carbonated beverages, which typically approach 60 psi.
The main applications are bottles, jars and other containers. The Injection blow molding process produces
bottles of superior visual and dimensional quality compared to extrusion blow molding. The process is ideal for both narrow and wide-mouthed containers and produces them fully finished with no flash. A sign of injection blow molding is the seam where the two halves of the mold meet.
This picture shows what happens inside the blow mold. The preform is first stretched mechanically with a stretch rod. As the rod travels down low-pressure air of 5 to 25 bar (70 to 350 psi) is introduced blowing a 'bubble'. Once the stretch rod is fully extended, high-pressure air of up to 40 bar (580 psi) blows the expanded bubble into the shape of the blow mold.