Injection stretch blow molding process
This has two main different methods, namely Single-stage and two-stage process. Single-stage process is again broken down into 3-station and 4-station machines. In the two-stage injection stretch blow molding process, the plastic is first molded into a "preform" using the injection molding process. These preforms are produced with the necks of the bottles, including threads (the "finish") on one end. These preforms are packaged, and fed later (after cooling) into a reheat stretch blow molding machine. In the ISB process, the preforms are heated (typically using infrared heaters) above their glass transition temperature, then blown using high-pressure air into bottles using metal blow molds. The preform is always stretched with a core rod as part of the process.
Advantages: Very high volumes are produced. Little restriction on bottle design. Preforms can be sold as a completed item for a third party to blow. Is suitable for cylindrical, rectangular or oval bottles. Disadvantages: High capital cost. Floor space required is high, although compact systems have become available.
In the single-stage process both preform manufacture and bottle blowing are performed in the same machine. The older 4-station method of injection, reheat, stretch blow and ejection is more costly than the 3-station machine which eliminates the reheat stage and uses latent heat in the preform, thus saving costs of energy to reheat and 25% reduction in tooling. The process explained: Imagine the molecules are small round balls, when together they have large air gaps and small surface contact, by first stretching the molecules vertically then blowing to stretch horizontally the biaxial stretching makes the molecules a cross shape. These "crosses" fit together leaving little space as more surface area is contacted thus making the material less porous and increasing barrier strength against permeation. This process also increases the strength to be ideal for filling with carbonated drinks.
Advantages: Highly suitable for low volumes and short runs. As the preform is not released during the entire process the preform wall thickness can be shaped to allow even wall thickness when blowing rectangular and non-round shapes.
Disadvantages: Restrictions on bottle design. Only a champagne base can be made for carbonated bottles.