Blow molding machines gain ground with speed, conservation, connectivity
Quicker mold changes. Increased flexibility. Reduced energy and material use. Greater connectivity. These were some of the key themes at NPE2018 as makers of blow molding machinery showed off their latest and greatest offerings. The following recaps some of the developments that commanded the spotlight at their booths.
Jomar has expanded its IntelliDrive series of injection blow molding (IBM) machines that incorporate a custom-designed servo-hydraulic system, sales manager Ron Gabriele said.
Jomar introduced the IntelliDrive technology at the K show and now offers the IntelliDrive 135 and the IntelliDrive 175. The numbers designate their clamping forces in tons. Each delivers major improvements in energy consumption, output and performance while maintaining their existing footprint, the company said.
Converting the company’s large machine line to this technology has enabled it to discontinue its standard hydraulic Model 175, Gabriele said in an interview at his company’s NPE2018 booth. He said the IntelliDrive is preferable to all-electric alternatives since users can achieve comparable energy savings, while still benefiting from its “robust and versatile hydraulic system.”
The servo-driven hydraulics of IntelliDrive allow the machines to turn the power on and off as needed, so they consume only the amount of energy they require. These latest models also have a faster cycle time (2.5 seconds vs. 3 seconds for competitive IBM machines), use 40 percent less hydraulic oil and tower water than the standard Model 135 and 175 machines and emit much less heat than standard hydraulic machines — all of which contribute to lower operating costs.
Additionally, the company has added features that enable its IBM machines to extract operational data — such as screw drive pressure (in revolutions per minute) and the output of each valve. The goal is to use such data for predictive maintenance analytics, Gabriele said. “We’re still aggregating data,” he said.
Jomar intends to roll out further data-analyzing enhancements by year’s end. Gabriele stressed customers’ growing desire to be able to monitor and diagnose their machines remotely.
The acquisition of data will facilitate adding predictive maintenance capabilities, which is the next step toward greater uptime and improved machine efficiency, he said. The key is to sort out what is relevant and important in an operational sense, from the huge amounts of available machine data. “You don’t swat a fly with a nuclear bomb,” he said.
Sipa, which makes bottle blow molding machines as well as preform tooling and systems, unveiled a new quick-mold-change system for its ECS SP single-stage injection-stretch-blow molding (ISBM) machines. The
system, which enhances operator safety and user-friendliness, can slash changeover times by roughly 25 percent, the company said.
The ECS SP system is suitable for producing specialty products such as containers for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, personal-care products and spirits, particularly in sizes between 20 milliliters (ml) and 50 ml. Sipa offers two models: the ECS SP 50 with 56 tons of clamping force and the 90-ton ECS SP 80.
The company also touted the recent addition of linear versions of its fully integrated SincroBloc PET bottle blowing/filling/capping systems. All the initial models were based on Sipa’s SFR line of rotary stretch blow molding equipment. But Sipa said it found that some customers, especially those that bottle water and edible oil, needed a compact system that could handle larger bottles up to 12 liters. For this, only linear stretch blow molding machines will do. For molders that also want to produce limited quantities of, say, 2,000 bottles per hour, a linear machine is again more appropriate.
Separately, Sipa noted that its HotLight 38 tooling produces a neck finish for hot-fill bottles that is 10.6 percent lighter than a traditional neck finish. It has the same diameter (38mm) and the same height (17.8mm), but design changes trim the weight to just 6.7 grams from 7.5 grams. As a result, Sipa contends, bottle makers save material and cut running costs, while still being able to use the same closure and obtain the same performance from the bottles.
At NPE2018, Nissei ASB demonstrated what it billed as the world’s first triple-row, one-step injection stretch blow molding machine, producing more than 20,000 miniature liquor bottles an hour in 48 cavities that cycle every 8.6 seconds. It offers triple-row molding of small bottles in 36 or 48 cavities.
Dubbed the ASB-150DPX, the machine molded 50-ml bottles that each weighed 10.5 grams. Nissei ASB said the process begins with a very small preform that would be impossible to handle and reheat in a two-step system. With one-step molding, the container is formed and held by its neck throughout the process; this reduces scuffing and contributes to excellent aesthetics, the company said.
Though introduced at Drinktec last fall in Munich, NPE2018 marked the North American debut for the machine, which also can apply the same triple-row concept to 24- and 36-cavity molds.
The company said the clamping stroke has been reduced to suit shorter containers, which cuts down on overall cycle times. And it optimizes the hydraulic systems for higher speeds and smoother movements, further reducing dry cycle times.
ST BLOW MOULDING
After serving the market for 38 years, Monza, Italy-based S.T. Soffiagio Tecnica srl has rebranded itself. It also used NPE2018 to tout the enhanced versatility and reduced energy use of its big accumulator-head blow molding machines.
At the show, managing partner Martin Graziadei announced the company has adopted the “easier” name of ST Blow Moulding srl while also showcasing the firm’s ASPI 400. This latest-generation machine has 45 tons of clamping force and a 4-liter accumulator head. It can be used to mold pieces in 2-D configurations, such as windshield washer reservoirs, or it can work with parison suction technology to produce 3-D pieces, such as curvy air intake ducts for turbocharged engines.
One enhancement is a new smart heating control that reduces electricity use during machine startup by modulating the power to each heating zone to trim the energy peaks, according to ST. The model also uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to let operators log in easily with a contact-less badge. The machine — which can be monitored remotely — connects to users’ smart factories using the OPC-UA communication protocol and includes predictive tools to schedule maintenance and reduce unplanned downtime.
Hollo Plastics Equipment is the company’s U.S. distributor.
Robert Grace, contributor
Pleasantville, N.J., 609-646-8000,
Nissei ASB Co.,
Smyrna, Ga., 404-699-7755,
Sipa North America,