22 Juli 2020

Using Existing Injection Blow Moulding Machinery For Bioplastics

As the consumer demand for biodegradable, eco-friendly products increases, the subsequent need for bioplastic packaging will as well

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Bioplastic processing procedures are constantly evolving. As the consumer demand for biodegradable, eco-friendly products increases, the subsequent need for bioplastic packaging will as well. Although not all bioplastics are suitable for injection blow moulding, there are a number that are.

Bioplastics have a long and illustrious history, dating as far back as the end of the 19th century when Parkesine and Galalith were invented. Bioplastics were not always as popular as they are now due to their hefty price tags and incompatibility with current production processes. Where they were once mainly used in sheet extrusion markets, they can now readily be found in anything from disposable cutlery and rigid packaging to medical applications and an increasing range of consumer products. Thanks to the constant technological advances made in plastic manufacturing, bioplastics are also being utilised in a number of injection moulding processes. A number of bioplastics can even be used alongside traditional injection blow moulding machines to produce an expanding range of products.

An injection blow moulding machine serves many purposes

Injection blow moulding is one of the most efficient manufacturing processes currently in use. A typical injection blow moulding machine consists of three stations, each of which performs a very important task. Once all the required processes have been completed, the finished moulded item can be removed from the third station. Although not all bioplastics are suitable for injection blow moulding, there are a number that are. These include the polyhydroxyalkanoate-based biodegradable Mirel, as well as Floreon, which has been hailed as the king of biopolymer plastics.

The process is not without obstacles

Although many doors can be opened by using bioplastics in injection moulding processes, there are a number of obstacles to overcome. The most prevalent concerns include heat, moisture and degradation, which is caused not only by temperature but by processing time as well. Machine breakdowns are another concern that the production team needs to contend with. For this reason, it is essential to service the machines on a regular basis to keep them functioning at optimal levels and minimise downtime. Thankfully, there is a range of useful tools, such as borescopes and oscilloscopes, that make it increasingly easy to service equipment on-site. In instances where a maintenance team is not familiar with these technologies, a free borescope demo can be requested, which will showcase all the functions of these tools and enable engineers to work with them in the future.

The pros outweigh the cons

Despite there still being a number of limitations to contend with, bioplastics remain a good choice for injection blow moulding processes. Among the most popular bioplastic items currently produced using this process are baby bottles, packaging for the health and beauty industry, reusable water bottles, and bottles for detergents and other cleaning products. The use of bioplastics is especially popular among manufacturers of eco-friendly consumables and those simply wanting to reduce their carbon footprint to an extent.

Bioplastic processing procedures are constantly evolving. As the consumer demand for biodegradable, eco-friendly products increases, the subsequent need for bioplastic packaging will as well.

Source: Bioplastics Magazine, 2020-06-25.

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