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 hot runner manifold where it is injected through nozzles into a heated cavity and core pin. The cavity mold forms the external shape and is clamped around a 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. similar in appearance to a test tube with a threaded neck.
The preform mold opens and the core rod is rotated and clamped into the hollow, chilled blow mold. The end of 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 as an option can be 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.
Advantages: It produces an injection moulded neck for accuracy.
Disadvantages: only suits small capacity bottles as it is difficult to control the base centre during blowing. No increase in barrier strength as the material is not biaxially stretched. Handles can't be incorporated.