The injection molding phase consists of injection molding a thermoplastic material into a hollow, tube-shaped article called a preform. The preform is transferred on a metal shank, called the core rod, into a blow mold.
The process of injection blow molding (IBM) is used for the production of hollow glass and plastic objects in large quantities. In the IBM process, the polymer is injection molded onto a core pin; then the core pin is rotated to a blow molding station to be inflated and cooled. This is the least-used of the three blow molding processes, and is typically used to make small medical and single serve bottles. The process is divided into three steps: injection, blowing and ejection.
The injection blow molding machine is based on an extruder barrel and screw assembly which melts the polymer. The molten polymer is fed into a manifold where it is injected through nozzles into a hollow, heated preform mold. The preform mold forms the external shape and is clamped around a mandrel (the core rod) which forms the internal shape of the preform. The preform consists of a fully formed bottle/jar neck with a thick tube of polymer attached, which will form the body.
The preform mold opens and the core rod is rotated and clamped into the hollow, chilled blow mold. The core rod opens and allows compressed air into the preform, which inflates it to the finished article shape.
After a cooling period the blow mold opens and the core rod is rotated to the ejection position. The finished article is stripped off the core rod and leak-tested prior to packing. The preform and blow mold can have many cavities, typically three to sixteen depending on the article size and the required output. There are three sets of core rods, which allow concurrent preform injection, blow molding and ejection.
Each thermoplastic resin has its own set of tooling design parameters. Hot melt density, shrink factors, stretch ratios, blow pressure, venting criteria, and surface area of the tooling must all be known prior to designing any tooling.