R&D/Leverage aims to bring injection blow tooling design into modern era

R&D/Leverage (Lee's Summit, MO) filed its 15th patent related to injection blow mold (IBM) tooling this year, the latest milestone in a years-long project to identify and resolve problems related to traditional injection blow tooling.

“When we got into the IBM tooling business, we recognized there were many problems inherent in the traditional design that were not conducive to cost-effective manufacturing and productivity that today’s injection blowmolders need to be competitive in their markets,” said Jeff Chen, Director of Research & Simulation. “Now, after much research, development and testing, we have a proven IBM tool that really works.” 

Some of the problems inherent in a conventionally designed injection blow mold tool that the Liberty IBM system solves include:

  • Elimination of the ill effect of thermal expansion–related problems like bowing of the die-set;
  • ability to do “cold starts” without having to torch the nozzles;
  • reduction of thermal expansion–induced wear at the nozzle tip and gate area;
  • elimination of the need to engage and disengage the manifold from the injection cavity for startup and shutdown;
  • a high degree of manifold balance;
  • reduction in temperature bleed-over between neck insert and cavity;
  • a unique retract system that minimizes galling and wear of traditional bottom mold retract components;
  • reduction in parting line mismatches.

“We took our scientific approach in injection stretch blow and converted it to innovating tooling for the injection blow process to resolve the inherent issues in IBM tooling, perform root cause analysis and develop new technologies to solve these problems,” explained Bruce Wardlow, Director of Product Development.

The responsibility to make the product easy to process is with the person designing the preform, said R&D/Leverage in a press release. A key part of that is applying consistent standards to the preform and tool design, which the technician processes under strict guidelines during single cavity development. This way the molder can ensure going into production without delays.

The Liberty IBM system has several attributes designed for optimal performance, said Wardlow. One is the temperature spread that can be achieved between the neck insert, which contains the threads for the cap, and the shoulder of the bottle. “In a traditional tool, a process technician might think the shoulder temperature is running at a 250-degree set point and the neck is running at an 80-degree set point, for example,” said Wardlow. “However, there is so much temperature bleed in the shoulder, between the shoulder and neck insert, that you’re not running either one.

“Through thermal isolation in our Liberty IBM system, we can achieve appropriate process temperatures without having to excessively run the thermolator only to achieve a lesser result,” Wardlow added. “With superior isolation in those areas, you can achieve appropriate temperatures easier and without as much strain on your equipment. A thermolator is expensive to operate and requires a lot of maintenance, so the Liberty IBM system reduces maintenance costs,” said Wardlow.

R&D/Leverage currently has 16 Liberty IBM systems running in the field with cavitation as high as 38. “The higher cavitation tools will have the highest return for our customers based on ease of start-up and tool maintenance,” commented Wardlow.

Another benefit of the Liberty IBM system is that it helps with the skills gap. “By making the tool more predictable, a process technician with less experience can run the system,” said Wardlow. “A lot of advancements have been made in IBM machines and bottles, but few advancements in the preform/tooling technology, as we discovered when we began researching patents. We’re very proud of the technology advancements we’ve made in IBM tooling.”

R&D/Leverage is hosting its tri-annual Open House on September 20 to 22, where many new innovations will be presented and demonstrated during plant tours and presentations.  Click here for more information and to register to attend.

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