Anaheim, Calif. — The blow molding process netted three awards during the Society of Plastics Engineers' annual Plastics for Life competition, held at the Antec conference in Anaheim.
A panel of judges picked the winners of five awards, from parts that had already won in competitions at previous SPE conferences throughout the past year.
The Grand Prize Award winner went to the extrusion blow molded PET PleurX drainage bottle, used by patients at home to drain fluid from the lungs and for malignant ascites.
Another part, a big underfloor duct for a John Deere backhoe, won two awards: Improving Life and the People's Choice.
FGH Systems Inc., a maker of blow molded tooling in Denville, N.J., won the Grand Prize for the thick-wall bottle. The bottle is being molded with a FGH mold, on a Uniloy shuttle blow molding machine, with a W. Müller accumulator head. An even wall thickness was important because the bottle is hooked up to a vacuum system to remove liquids.
The Improving Life and attendee-voted People's Choice awards went to Deere & Co. for an extrusion blow molded duct that moves heating, ventilating and air conditioning to the cab in a backhoe.
A foam additive is used to create a large bubble structure, making an insulation barrier. "This sits above the transmission, so there is a lot of heat," said Ken Carter, a staff materials engineer at Deere's technology and innovation center in Moline, Ill.
In an interview on the parts competition floor at Antec, Carter said Deere developed the foaming process and the molds. Adopting blow molding brought the duct from 43 pieces — four rotomolded parts and a lot of assembly components — down to two pieces.
Carter said Regency Plastics Inc. of Ubly, Mich., extrusion blow molds two pieces and them infrared welds them together.
Deere worked with Agri-Industrial Plastics Co., a blow molder in Fairfield, Iowa, to develop the foaming process, Carter said.
"We made the process so we can take it to any molder," Carter said. "It's not something where they have to buy special equipment. All they have to do is buy a vacuum pump."
John Ratzlaff, who coordinates the Plastics for Life parts competition, announced the winners at the Antec news conference on May 9. Other award winners are: