Technological watch

All-round innovation in blow moulding

Since the last edition of NPE in 2018, the plastics industry has undergone drastic changes to meet new challenges in the global climate, economy and politics. With this in mind, ST BlowMoulding has always been committed and focused on innovation and the development of new solutions in terms of sustainability, recyclability, carbon footprint and climate protection. In addition, ST BlowMoulding continues to invest the majority of its profits in research and development in order to continuously develop high quality equipment capable of delivering high efficiency, reliability and innovation in the world of technical blow moulding.

The North American market is crucial for the company, where the company has experienced tremendous growth and market appreciation over the past decade. ST BlowMoulding's market development will benefit from the newly established subsidiary ST BlowMoulding USA in Norwalk, Ohio. The business has established a large workshop for machine repair, a full team of engineers able to respond quickly and effectively to customer needs, and a stock of the most common spare parts for rapid delivery.

At NPE 2024, the company will be showcasing its innovative solutions in this machine segment, capitalising on its 40 years of experience and expertise in accumulator head technology. New solutions have been implemented to develop a new product line of dual head machines: highly automated and intelligent control panel, optimised material usage, the lowest energy consumption on the market and the highest possible OEE (Overall Equipment Efficiency) take the new dual head machines to the highest level of quality and maximise profit for ST's customers.

The ST team in the USA focuses on machine retrofits. This activity has already been very successful, with major electronic and software upgrades carried out on both ST BlowMoulding and competitor machines, both single and dual head. The new electric clamping unit, to be launched in 2022 for machines up to 120 tonnes, takes ST to new heights. Together with ST's own adiabatic extruders and all other energy saving solutions, ST is now the benchmark in the blow moulding industry when it comes to energy consumption of machines. In fact, ST BlowMoulding is at the forefront of this trend: since 2012, it has been the only blow-moulding machine manufacturer to use adiabatic extruders on a large scale. Their special screw and barrel design ensures gentle plasticising without overheating the melt. In addition, a double layer of barrel insulation reduces heat dissipation by up to 10 times compared to a conventional extruder. Today, ST machines exceed the maximum energy efficiency according to Euromap 46.1 (class 10: < 0.13 kWh/lbs), even for large extrusion blow moulding machines for industrial applications. 

Indeed, industrial packaging is becoming a major business area for the company. New concepts in continuous extrusion technology and highly productive machines were implemented and sold for large containers, in particular L-ring drums and IBCs. New multilayer solutions are part of ST's major development, looking to the future of recycled plastics and the use of PCR and PIR. Multilayer technologies are now available in either continuous extrusion or accumulator head processes.

For continuous extrusion, the company continues to work closely with W. Müller. For discontinuous extrusion, the new accumulator heads are equipped with two (or optionally three) extruders, each feeding a separate melt channel. A new design of the flow channels significantly improves the balance of the layers, resulting in a viable solution for many two-layer (or either three-layer) applications. And if an extra layer is required, Outer Coating Technology - with a separate accumulator chamber - is also available. 

As well as saving energy and recycling plastic, using less raw material is a key benefit for both the environment and customers. This is where foam technology comes in. This technology creates a foamed structure in the blown part using a neutral gas (N2 or CO2) and a nucleating agent. The density reduction results in lighter parts, raw material savings and better thermal and acoustic insulation. ST adiabatic extruders can be pre-arranged to supply the gas for material foaming.

New frontiers are also being explored in the development of advanced solutions for composite pressure vessels, including LPG, CNG and hydrogen. The future of climate protection is moving towards hydrogen as an energy source. ST BlowMoulding is committed to playing a leading role in this challenge by developing technologies for blow moulding hydrogen liners: a perfect match between expertise and market needs.

Not to mention that ST continues to maintain its market and technology leadership in the suction blow moulding segment with new and advanced solutions specifically designed for the automotive industry, especially in the area of coolant lines for electric vehicles. Finally, ST has always paid great attention to machine ergonomics and operator friendliness. This also goes hand in hand with the need to reduce overall machine downtime. That's why the company has developed several solutions for fast head and mould changeover, including the advanced and patented hands-free AHC (Automatic Head-tooling Changeover) and other innovative solutions for small and large accumulator heads.

Publication date: 08/05/2024


This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31