ENGEL AUSTRIA and CANTONI have set a new standard for process integration. The inject2blow method, which the two companies developed together, combines the injection moulding and blow moulding processes in one mould on one injection moulding machine and significantly reduces time and costs in the manufacture of cosmetic, drug, and food containers by doing so.
With a cycle time of under 14 seconds for the manufacture of wide-necked jars on a 90-tonne clamping force ENGEL victory injection moulding machine in a 2+2-cavity mould produced by CANTONI, which is based in Abbadia Lariana, Italy, traditional methods simply cannot match the production efficiency of inject2blow. Preforms normally have to be made using injection moulding first and then subjected to a second process on a blow moulding machine before they become a final product, but the new method allows small ready-to-use containers to be manufactured in one process. This combination method is the first of its kind available on the market.
Other benefits of integrating the processes include lower system investment costs, a smaller system footprint, higher system availability, simpler quality control, and no maximum clamping force. The inject2blow method can be used to process a wide range of thermoplastics from polyethylene, polypropylene and polycarbonates to PET.
Benefits of no tie bar fully exploited
ENGEL and CANTONI supply the integrated production systems from one source. In addition to the ENGEL injection moulding machine, they include a CANTONI sliding table mould and an ENGEL viper linear robot which removes finished parts from the mould. Both the injection moulding and blow moulding processes are visualised, monitored, and controlled via the ENGEL injection moulding machine CC 200 control unit. This means that injection moulding machine operators don't have to learn how to use new technology; they will simply be guided intuitively through the integrated injection and blow moulding process by the ENGEL control unit which they are already familiar with.
Injection moulding machines from the ENGEL victory and ENGEL e-victory series, which are adapted to the individual requirements of the application, can be used in the manufacturing cells. These machines offer plenty of free space for the sliding table mould because their clamping unit does not have a tie bar. As the mould clamping platens of tie-bar-less machines can be used up to their edges or even beyond, large moulds can fit on comparatively small injection moulding machines. Machine size can therefore now be decided according to the required clamping force instead of the size and movement radius of the mould, which keeps investment and operating costs low. The barrier-free mould area also simplifies the automation process, because the robot can access the mould from the side without being hindered.
Minimal energy consumption, maximum flexibility
A high degree of energy efficiency sets this new integrated process apart from older methods. There are two main factors responsible for this. Firstly, unlike traditional two-stage methods, preforms do not have to be heated up again before the blow moulding part of the process, and secondly, ecodrive – the energy saving option for hydraulic ENGEL machines, which is offered by the ENGEL victory and e-victory machines – matches consumption levels achieved by fully electric machines. Hydraulic injection moulding machines equipped with the servo-hydraulic system ecodrive consume between 30 and 70% less energy than comparable machines which don't have this energy saving option, depending on the specific machine and use.
Despite the high degree of process integration and automation, manufacturing cells are very flexible when they are in operation. Cavity inserts make it easier to change from one product to another, and the production of small batches economical. As the inject2blow process is based on standard injection moulding machines, the system can be used with moulds for classic injection moulding products too.