THE FUTURE OF BLOW MOLDING MACHINES AND THE KEY EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE TRANSFORMING THE PLASTICS INDUSTRY
Blow molding manufacturing is a small fraction of the plastics industry compared to injection molding and extrusion, but it is nonetheless a vital part of the industry. The blow molding process manufactures hollow plastic products like bottles, jugs, and drums. The industrial process involves molding molten plastic pellets with compressed air. Blow molding is inexpensive and enables manufacturers to produce their products in large quantities quickly.
Forecasters expect the global blow-molded plastics market to reach 103.4 billion by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5 percent. The construction, automotive, medical, home chemicals, and packaging industries in the United States and Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) are the primary drivers of the plastic-blown products market.
The importance of Plastic Blow Molding
Enoch Ferngren and William Kopitke developed, in 1938, the first plastic blow molding machine. By the 1970s, the need to replace glass, metal, wood, and natural rubber materials, and the booming soft drink industry, turned the sleeping giant, blow molding, into an essential manufacturing process in the plastics industry. Two of the most common blow molding methods are extrusion and injection blow molding (different processes than extrusion and injection molding).
Extrusion Blow Molding
Extrusion blow molding is the most common method of blow molding. In the extrusion blow molding process, plastic pellets go through an extruder, melting them and forming into a parison, a hollow tube of molten plastic. The parison is then clamped into a mold, and compressed air is used to blow the plastic into the shape of the mold. Once the plastic is cool and solidified, the mold opens, and the finished product is removed.
Injection Blow Molding
Injection blow molding allows for greater control over the wall thickness and provides dimensional accuracy for more complex shapes than extrusion blow molding can produce. In the injection blow molding process, the plastic is first injection molded into a preform. The perform is then transferred to a blow mold, stretched, and blown into the final shape using compressed air.
The Advantages of Blow Molding
In addition to producing large quantities of products in a short amount of time and intricate shapes and sizes, blow molding is a cost-effective process, requiring less material and energy than other manufacturing processes. Blow molding also produces products with a high level of consistency and quality. Today’s highly automated computer-controlled blow molding machines ensure that each product is made to the exact specifications every time.
The Future of Blow Molding and Trends that Promote Energy Efficiency
Economics and consumerism have led to growth in the packaging industry, and the industry is the leading user of blow-molded products with over 39 percent revenue share in 2022. The second largest industry is the automotive industry, with a share of over 20 percent. With the rising demand for electric passenger cars and heavy-duty vehicles, the production of blow-molded automotive components will continue to grow.
Post-Consumer Recycled Resin
Post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin pellets are becoming more common in U.S. industrial manufacturing plants per government mandates. The states of California, Washington, and New Jersey, have legislation that requires consumer bottles to contain 10 to 15 percent PCR resin, which is expected to increase.
Reducing Energy Consumption
Reducing energy consumption from equipment is a vital step in manufacturing today. APenergy has the experience to help plastics manufacturers, including blow molders, cut energy usage without sacrificing quality by capitalizing on incentives for equipment upgrades.
Compressed Air Solutions
Utilities, especially compressed air, are one of the most significant costs in blow-molding. APenery partners with utility companies like ComEd to find and implement compressed air solutions like leak protection.
A proper-sized drying system is necessary for PET processing, and desiccant wheel technology has become essential. The wheel has less mass to heat and can be regenerated at a much lower temperature. Additionally, dryer control software combined with a monitor can optimize energy consumption by automatically adjusting drying conditions to the minimum required for every application.
Chiller system designs today can incorporate many energy-saving features, including variable speed drive (VSD) compressors. VSD compressors adjust the speed to match the cooling load to reduce energy waste and use soft-start technology to reduce peak energy demand. VSDs can also extend a compressor motor’s lifespan.
How APenergy Assess Blow Molding Efficiency and Solutions offered
APenergy offers turn-key project solutions to improve line efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Our focus is to provide cost-effective solutions to said efficiencies and improvements by retrofitting existing blow molding production lines. Typically these retrofit applications rest under a four-year payback on energy.
Depending on the utility incentives available, we typically provide engineering support to collect the incentives for verified savings projects we implement. The incentive process is largely overlooked on custom applications but can reduce the payback by a few years.
APenergy has, in many cases, implemented our projects at no cost to the customer. Our approach considers both the blow molding line and the industrial systems that feed into it, like compressed air. By assessing the total consumed energy of the production equipment and its components, we have developed an approach that consistently produces utility-approved projects for retrofit applications.
Contatct APenergy Today
APenergy has 35 years of experience working with industrial manufacturers to identify areas of inefficiency and make data-driven decisions to reduce energy usage and costs by implementing incentive and rebate programs.
APenergy can help companies set energy-saving goals, track progress, and achieve favorable ROIs through our incentive management service. Our expert team is ready to assist companies in becoming energy-efficient. For more information, contact the APenergy team, the leading energy efficiency consultants, at 740-862-4112 or message us at https://apenergy.com/contact/