Paul Atkin: The newly developed PF36 Series is an expansion to ASB's lineup of machines that mould PET bottles using our pioneering 1.5-step process. Bottles are moulded within one machine directly from PET resin so, unlike two-step moulding, there is no preform storage or handling. Floor space requirements are reduced - the compact nature of the PF Series means that it can produce an equivalent output to a two-step system in around 30% of the room normally required - superior container quality is achieved and there is a dramatically reduced risk of contamination.
The PF36 Series is currently made up of four models suitable for a range of bottle capacities, ranging 100ml-5L. The PF36/36- 600 we're currently featuring is capable of moulding containers of up to 600ml capacity and uses 36 injection cavities to mould preforms, which are then transferred through post-moulding cooling, temperature adjustment and on to a 12-cavity blow mould. Blow moulding requires much less time than preform injection, so in ASB's 1.5-step system the blow mould operates three times per injection cycle. Because it is built on the same platform as its siblings, the machine is identical externally to all of them, and a vast majority of the internal parts are common. This means that operator training and maintenance is simplified, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership.
The PF36 Series is dedicated to moulding PET bottles in a variety of shapes with high efficiency. This makes it a perfect choice for typical beverage-style containers of all types. The PF36/36-600 is capable of moulding up to 18,000bph, making a single unit compatible for in-line use with a 300bpm filling line. It is also capable of moulding a wide range of other bottle types for markets such as edible oil and household products. Since the machine produces its own preform, neck designs and preform specifications can be perfectly customised to specialised products - something that is difficult to do when buying preforms for a two-step blowing system.
The PF36 Series makes full use of ASB's newly introduced Vision1 control system, which is currently being phased in over ASB's entire product range. This system offers faster machine response together with improved information and operator feedback to allow faster fault finding and higher productivity. The system is designed to be fully compatible with industry 4.0, the standard communication protocol for the industrial IoT. Furthermore, with the PF36 using several high-speed servo drives, the advanced features of the control system allows smooth synchronised movements that reduce vibration and, most significantly, much-faster indexing for higher productivity.
The 1.5-step process has a natural energy advantage over two-step systems. Rather than completely cooling and reheating the preforms, some of the heat from the injection process is retained, so less cooling and reheating energy is required. Hybrid operation is achieved from a hydraulically driven injection unit and injection-mould clamping, using lowenergy- consumption variable displacement pumps, coupled with all downstream major movements being driven by energy-saving servo motors, including the blow-mould clamp and stretching, while pneumatic operation is reserved for the small and simple motions.
The result is a remarkably low actual energy consumption of just 66kW to mould a 500ml bottle at an output of more than 14,500bph, which makes it highly economical considering that this is the total power requirement for full conversion from raw material to finished product. Further energy savings are achievable at the air compressors with an optional blowair recovery system.