PatentDe  


Dokumentenidentifikation EP0872329 23.01.2003
EP-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0872329
Titel VORRICHTUNG UND VERFAHREN ZUM SPRITZGIESS-BLASEN
Anmelder Nissei ASB Machine Co., Ltd., Komoro, Nagano, JP
Erfinder TAKADA, Minoru, Ueda-shi, Nagano 386, JP;
SATO, Koichi, Ueda-shi, Nagano 386, JP;
SAKURAI, Atsushi, Saku-shi, Nagano 385, JP;
NETSU, Yoichi, Saku-shi, Nagano 385, JP;
TSUCHIYA, Yoichi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano 389-01, JP
Vertreter derzeit kein Vertreter bestellt
DE-Aktenzeichen 69717787
Vertragsstaaten DE, ES, FR, GB, IT
Sprache des Dokument EN
EP-Anmeldetag 02.09.1997
EP-Aktenzeichen 979378734
WO-Anmeldetag 02.09.1997
PCT-Aktenzeichen PCT/JP97/03064
WO-Veröffentlichungsnummer 0098009793
WO-Veröffentlichungsdatum 12.03.1998
EP-Offenlegungsdatum 21.10.1998
EP date of grant 11.12.2002
Veröffentlichungstag im Patentblatt 23.01.2003
IPC-Hauptklasse B29C 49/06
IPC-Nebenklasse B29C 49/30   B29C 49/64   

Beschreibung[en]
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to an injection blow molding system according to the preamble of claim 1. Furthermore, it relates to an injection blow molding method according to the preamble of claim 18.

2. Description of the Prior Art

One of the injection blow molding systems for molding containers is described in Japanese Patent Publication No. 3-45692, for example.

The injection blcw molding system described in this Japanese Patent Publication No. 3-45692 is shown in Fig. 15 of the accompany drawings and comprises an injection molding station 2, a first temperature regulating station 4, a second temperature regulating station 6, a blow molding station 8 and a removing station 10, all of which are arranged in a line.

The injection molding station 2 simultaneously injection molds two rows of four preforms 12 arranged in a direction perpendicular to a preform carrying direction shown by an arrow in this figure. The pitch P1 between two rows of the injection molded preforms 12 (which will be referred to "the injection molding pitch P1") is then changed to a larger pitch P2 for blow molding in the blow molding station 8(which will be referred to "the blow molding pitch P2"). The preforms 12 are then carried through the first and second temperature regulating stations 4, 6, blow molding station 8 and removing station 10 while the blow molding pitch P2 is maintained.

In the injection molding station 2, the preforms 12 are injection molded and carried in their upright state.

Since the injection blow molding system of Japanese Patent Publication No. 3-45692 is designed to change the injection molding pitch P1 to the blow molding pitch P2 immediately after the preforms 12 have been injection molded, the preforms 12 will be carried with this larger pitch P2 from the injection molding station 2 through the first and second temperature regulating stations 4, 6 to the blow molding station 8. This causes a waste of space in the first and second temperature regulating stations 4, 6, resulting in increase of the entire system size and manufacturing cost.

When beverage containers or the like are to be molded by such a system, it is desired to maintain the molding room clean. When such a clean atmosphere is to be maintained in the larger area, the installation and maintenance costs will be increased. To avoid this, it is important to reduce the area of installation as small as possible.

Furthermore, such an injection blow molding system is designed to carry the upright preforms 12. When the preforms 12 are heated, the necks of the erected preforms 12 may be excessively heated to be undesirably deformed because the necks of the preforms 12 are topped and the heat moves upward. In this case, further, carrying members used to carry the preforms may also be adversely affected by the heat.

Since the preforms 12 are blow molded by the blow molding station 8 in their upright state, the necessary parts for blow molding the preforms 12 such as stretching rods and others must be placed above the preforms 12. This will increase the entire height of the system and raise a problem in the installation space and maintenance.

From EP-A 0 534 367 an injection blow molding system is known which comprises an injection molding station for injection molding preforms, a carrying path, a heating station and a blow molding station for blow molding the preforms into containers.

In this known system the preforms are injection molded while being arranged in a M x N matrix. After injection molding the preforms are transported in this matrix-arrangement from the injection molding station to the heating station and from there to the blow molding station.

Due to the matrix-arrangement of the preforms during the transportation and the heating process also the blow molding station is adapted to blow mold the preforms while they are arranged in the M x N matrix.

Since, however, it takes more time to blow mold the preforms into containers than to injection mold the preforms the injection molding station always has to interrupt the injection molding process in order to give the blow molding station sufficient time to blow mold the containers.

It is an object of the present invention to provide an injection blow molding system and an injection blow molding method by the use of which a flexible production of the containers is possible.

This object is achieved by a system according to claim 1. Further, this object is achieved by a method according to claim 18.

Moreover in the arrangement according to claim 1, the removing rails are fixedly mounted between the lower mold portion and the four tie-bars. Thus, the removing plates can be stably advanced or retreated by advancing/retreating members which can be reduced in weight. In addition, their associated components can be omitted.

It is further preferred that the first carrying path has separate rotation mechanisms for rotating the preforms about their longitudinal axes in the cooling and heating stations and that a non-rotation area is provided between the rotation mechanism wherein at least one row of preforms are stopped. Thus, the non-rotation area may include a gate cutting mechanism for cutting the gates of the preforms. Such a gate cutting mechanism can cut the gates of the cooled preforms before they are re-heated. This is because preforms can be more easily and reliably cut at their gates if they are not rotated and also heated.

In the system and the method according to the present invention any wasteful use of space is prevented when the preforms are carried and the efficiency on molding is improved.

Furthermore, the installation area of the system is reduced to be as small as possible.

Additionally, in the system and the method according to the present invention it is prevented that the necks of the preforms are excessively heated and it is also avoided that the preform carrying members are adversely affected by the heat.

Also due to the present invention the entire height of the system and also the installation. space is reduced and the maintenance is facilitated.

According to a further embodiment of the present invention, the injection blow molding system further comprises:

  • a cooling station for cooling the preforms while being carried in said first direction;
  • wherein said first delivering section for receiving the preforms from the injection molding station delivers the preforms to the cooling station;
  • wherein said heating station heats the preforms cooled by the cooling station while the preforms being carried in the first direction; and
  • a second delivering section for receiving the preforms from the heating station and delivering the preforms to the blow molding stations;
  • wherein the first delivering section has a removing mechanism for removing the M × N matrix of the preforms in a state of upright out of the injection molding station, and an inverting mechanism for inverting the preforms to deliver to the cooling station;
  • wherein the cooling station and the heating station have a first carrying path in common for intermittently carrying one row of N preforms at a time in a state of inversion;
  • wherein the second delivering section has a transfer mechanism for receiving the one row of N preforms heated by the heating station from the first carrying path to transfer to the blow molding stations in a state of inversion; and
  • wherein each of the blow molding stations includes:
  • a second carrying path having a substantially rectangular shape with two shorter sides and two longer sides;
  • a receiving section located on one of the shorter sides in the second carrying path for receiving the preforms from the second delivering section in a state of inversion;
  • a blow molding section located on one of the longer sides in the second carrying path for simultaneously stretch blow molding the preforms received by the receiving section into containers; and
  • a removing section located on the other shorter side opposite to the receiving section for removing the containers molded by the blow molding section.

According to this embodiment of the present invention, the system will not be spread in a direction perpendicular to the first direction because the injection molding station, first delivering section, cooling station, heating station, second delivering section and blow molding station are arranged linearly in the first direction. This can minimize the installation area and save the space. Particularly, the area of the clean room in which the beverage containers are molded can be more effectively used.

Since the injection molding station simultaneously injection molds M×N preforms, the number of preforms for blow molding time can be secured to improve the efficiency in the molding cycle.

At the first delivering section, M rows of preforms are preferably delivered to the cooling station after the row pitch between M rows has been changed. By additionally cooling the preforms at the cooling station, the temperature in the injection molded preforms can be uniformly lowered so that the influence of the temperature control at the re-heating step will be increase to improve the stability on molding.

By heating the preforms cooled by the cooling station at the heating station in their inverted state, the necks of the preforms as well as the carrying members supporting the preforms in their inverted state will not be excessively heated. This can reliably prevent any deformation of the preform necks and the adverse affection of heat to the carrying members. In the cooling and heating stations, it is preferred that the preforms are rotated about their longitudinal axes by a rotation mechanism to cool and heat the preforms uniformly around their circumferences.

The inverted preforms are delivered from the second receiving section to the blow molding stations arranged parallel to one another. In each of the blow molding stations, the preforms are received by the receiving section located on the one shorter side of the second carrying path. The received preforms are simultaneously stretch blow molded by the blow molding section located on the longer side of the second carrying path. The molded containers are then removed by the removing section located on the other shorter side of the second carrying path. By blow molding the preforms in their inverted state, any elevator devices such as stretching rods and others are not required above the preforms. This can reduce the entire height and space required by the system and facilitate the maintenance. Since the blow molding section are located on the one longer side of the second carrying path, a blow clamping mechanism may be placed within the space between the longer sides of the second carrying path. This means that such a space can be more effectively utilized.

In another embodiment of the present invention it is preferred, that

   the delivering section includes:

  • M rows of removing plates each of which moves between the upper and lower mold portions in the injection molding station to receive N preforms; and
  • a removing mechanism which makes the M rows of removing plates advance toward and retreat from the injection molding station to remove the M × N preforms, and which has a pitch changing mechanism for increasing a row pitch in the M rows of removing plates when advancing and for decreasing the row pitch when retreating.

According to this embodiment of the present invention, the first delivering section delivers a plurality of injection molded preform rows to the heating station while reducing the row pitch between the injection molded preform rows in the preform carrying direction. Thus, time required to deliver the preforms can be reduced. The space required to carry and heat the preforms in the heating station can be reduced. This means that more preforms can be carried and heated within the same space and that the efficiency on molding can be improved. Furthermore, the entire length of the heating station can be reduced to save the space more. In addition, each of the removing and inverting mechanisms may be of a separate structure that can be reduced in weight and improved in operational speed.

In the above arrangement, it is preferred that the inverting mechanism may change the column pitch in the preforms while being inverted.

Each of the M rows of removing plates may have N cylindrical receiving members, each of which receives N preforms at a time with the portion thereof to be held by the holding members being exposed. In such a case, four holding members must be provided at four different heights. If the heights of these four holding members are also changed during the inverting step, time required to change these heights may be included in the inverting time. This means that the molding cycle can be reduced.

The present invention further provides an injection blow molding method according to claim 18. In a preferred embodiment the method further comprises

  • a cooling step for cooling the delivered preforms while being carried in the first direction in a state of inversion;
   wherein:
  • in the removing step, a row pitch in the M rows is changed while the preforms are being removed;
  • in the first delivering step, a column pitch of the N columns is changed while the preforms are being inverted; and
  • in the cooling and heating steps, the one row of N preforms are carried at a time in the first direction.

According to this embodiment of the method of the present invention, the carrying space can be reduced by delivering the preforms to the cooling step while decreasing the row pitch in the preforms injection molded at the injection molding step. Since the preforms are inverted while changing the column pitch in the delivering step and also M rows of preforms are simultaneously delivered to the cooling step, time required to deliver-the preforms can be reduced to shorten the molding cycle.

The preforms may be grouped into N/2 which are heated by two heating stations. The N/2 preforms heated by the respective heating station may be blow molded by each of two blow molding stations. Thus, the preforms simultaneously heated by each of the heating stations can be simultaneously blow molded by the respective one of the blow molding stations. This can equalize the quality of product in the blow molding step. Even if the number of preforms in one row increases, this can be treated without increasing the blow molding station in size.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig. 1 is a plan view of one embodiment of an injection blow molding system constructed in accordance with the present invention.

Fig. 2 is a side view of the injection molding station as viewed from the side of the injection device in Fig. 1.

Fig. 3 is an enlarged view of the injection molding station and first delivering section of the injection blow molding system shown in Fig. 1, with the upper mold clamping plate being omitted.

Fig. 4 is a plan view of a column pitch change in the inverting mechanism on the first delivering section of Fig. 3.

Fig. 5 is a side view of the first delivering section of Fig. 1.

Fig. 6 is a partial enlarged plan view of the holding members of the inverting mechanism.

Fig. 7 is a front view of the cooling mechanisms and first carrying paths in Fig. 1.

Fig. 8 is a front view of the gate cutting mechanism in Fig. 1.

Fig. 9 is a cross-sectional view illustrating the heating boxes in the heating station of Fig. 1.

Fig. 10 is a schematic plan view of the rotation mechanism in the cooling and heating stations.

Fig. 11 is an enlarged plan view of the second delivering section of Fig. 2.

Fig. 12 is a partially cut-away side view of Fig. 11.

Fig. 13 is a fragmentary front view of the gripping members of Fig. 11.

Fig. 14 is a side view of the removing section in the blow molding station of Fig. 1.

Fig. 15 is a plan view of an injection blow molding system according to the prior art.

Fig. 16 is a schematic plan view of another embodiment of an injection blow molding system constructed in accordance with the present invention.

Fig. 17 is a side view of the injection molding station in the system of Fig. 16.

Fig. 18 is a schematic plan view of the first delivering section and cooling station in the system of Fig. 16.

Fig. 19 is a schematic side view of the first delivering section and cooling station in the system of Fig. 16.

Fig. 20 is a schematic plan view of the intermediate delivering section in the system of Fig. 16.

Fig. 21 is a schematic side view of the heating station and second delivering section in the system of Fig. 16.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Several preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described in detail with respect to the drawings.

Figs. 1 to 14 show one embodiment of an injection blow molding system constructed in accordance with the present invention.

Fig. 1 is a plan view showing the entire layout of the injection blow molding system 20.

The injection blow molding system 20 comprises an injection molding station 22, a first delivering section 24, a cooling station 26, a heating station 30, a second delivering section 32 and a blow molding station 34, all of which are arranged linearly in a first direction A in which preforms 36 are carried.

The injection molding station 22 includes an injection molding device 42 connected to an injection device 40 wherein an M rows (M≧2) × N columns (N≧2) matrix of preforms 36 is simultaneously injection molded with one row extending in a second direction B perpendicular to the first or preform carrying direction A (also see Figs. 2, 3 and 5). In this embodiment, N is equal to 8 while M is equal to 4. Thus, the M×N matrix includes 32 preforms 36.

As shown in Fig 2 (in which the first delivering section is omitted) and Fig. 5, the injection molding device 42 comprises a lower mold clamping plate 46, an upper mold clamping plate 50 connected to the lower mold clamping plate 46 by a clamping cylinder (not shown) through four tie-bars 48, the clamping cylinder being capable of driving the upper mold clamping plate 50 toward or away from the lower mold clamping plate 46, and an injection mold device 52 mounted between the lower and upper mold clamping plates 50, 46.

The injection mold unit 52 comprises an injection cavity mold 54, injection core molds 56, an injection core mold fixing plate 58, an injection core mold holding plate 60, split neck cavity molds 62, a neck mold fixing plate 64, a stripper plate 66 and a neck mold fixing plate guide rails 68.

The injection cavity mold 54 includes 32 cavities for simultaneously molding four rows of eight preforms 36 and is mounted on the stationary or lower mold clamping plate 46 through a hot runner 70 which communicates with the injection device 40.

The number of the injection core molds 56 is equal to that of the cavities in the injection cavity mold 54. These injection core molds 56 are mounted on the injection core mold fixing plate 58 for movement relative to the injection cavity mold 54.

The injection core mold fixing plate 58 is mounted on the movable or upper mold clamping plate 50.

The injection core mold holding plate 60 is mounted on the injection core mold fixing plate 58 between the injection core mold fixing plate 58 and the upper mold clamping plate 50.

The number of the split neck cavity molds 62 is equal to that of the injection core molds 56. Each of the split neck cavity molds 62 is of a split type which can be closed relative to the corresponding injection core mold 56.

The neck mold fixing plate 64 includes divided plates each of which holds the respective split mold portion of eight split neck cavity molds 62 in one row.

The stripper plate 66 is located between the neck mold fixing plate 64 and the injection core mold fixing plate 58 for movement relative to the injection core mold fixing plate 58. More particularly, the stripper plate 66 is connected to the bottom end of a stripper plate elevating rod (not show) in a stripper plate elevating cylinder 72 which is mounted on the upper mold clamping plate 50. When this stripper plate elevating rod is actuated, the stripper plate 66 can be moved toward or away from the injection core mold fixing plate 58. The stripper plate 66 includes an engagement portion 82 which can the bottom end of a releasing rod 80 in a hydraulic releasing cylinder 64 on the upper mold clamping plate 50. When the stripper plate 66 is moved downward relative to the neck mold fixing plate 64, the stripper plate 66 can release the preforms 36 out of the injection core molds 56. Bores 84 and 86 are formed through the injection core mold holding and fixing plates 60, 58 for slidably receiving the stripper plate elevating and releasing rods 80. The downward movement of the stripper plate 66 is limited by stopper rods (not shown) mounted on the underside of the upper fixing plate 50 so that the preforms 36 will not be completely drawn out of the injection core molds 56. Bores for receiving the stopper rods are formed through the injection core mold holding plate 60, injection core mold fixing plate 58 and stripper plate 66.

Each of the neck mold fixing plate guide rails 68 comprises divided members which are mounted on the respective divided plates forming the neck mold fixing plate 64. The neck mold fixing plate guide rails 68 are slidably engaged by the stripper plate 66 so that the neck mold fixing plate 64 can be slidably moved to open the injection core molds 62. The divided members in the neck mold fixing plate 68 are biased to close the injection core molds 62 through biasing means 92 such as springs. The top of each of the divided members includes a wedge bore (not shown) formed therein to receive a corresponding neck mold opening cam (not shown) which is connected to a neck mold opening cylinder 94 on the upper mold clamping plate 50. When these neck mold opening cams are inserted into the respective wedge bores to open the neck mold fixing plate guide rails, the split neck cavity molds 62 can be opened. Bores for receiving the neck mold opening cams are formed through the injection core mold holding and fixing plates 60, 58.

When in the injection molding station 22 a mold clamping/driving cylinder within the bed is actuated to move the upper mold clamping plate 50 of the injection molding device 42 downward through the tie-bars 48, the neck mold fixing plate 64, stripper plate 66, injection core mold fixing plate 58 and injection core mold holding plate 60 are moved to be stacked on the injection cavity mold 54 so that the injection cavity molds 54, injection core molds 56 and split neck cavity molds 62 are closed. When a resin material is injected from the injection device 40 into the cavities of the injection cavity mold 54, four rows of eight preforms in the direction B perpendicular to the preform carrying direction A can be simultaneously injection molded.

After the injection molded preforms 36 have been cooled for a given time, a mold clamping/driving cylinder (not shown) is then actuated to move the upper mold clamping plate 50 upward to release the preforms 36 out of the injection cavity mold 54.

The hydraulic releasing cylinder 78 is then actuated to engage the bottom end of the releasing rod 80 with the stripper plate 66. Thus, the stripper plate 66 is slightly downward moved relative to the injection core mold fixing plate 58 to form a gap between each preform 36 and the corresponding injection core mold 56. Therefore, the preforms 36 can be released while the necks thereof are being held relative to the injection core molds 56 by the split neck cavity molds 62.

When the stripper plate elevating cylinder 72 is actuated while the preforms 36 are in their released state out of the injection core molds 56, the bottom end of the stripper plate elevating rod is downward moved to lower the stripper plate 66.

It is preferred that the stripper plate 66 is stopped at its lowermost limit by the stopper rods 88 so that the preforms 36 will not be completely drawn out of the injection core molds 56.

At the lowermost limit of the stripper plate 66, the neck mold opening cylinder 94 is actuated to lower the neck mold opening cams so that they will be inserted into the wedge bores in the top of the neck mold fixing plate guide rails 68 to open the guide rails 68. Thus, the neck mold fixing plate 64 then opens the split neck cavity molds 62. At this time, the necks of the preforms 36 will be released from the split neck cavity molds 62. As a result, the molded preforms will fall down and be removed out of the system.

Since the injection core molds 56 remain within the respective preforms 36, the latter can fall down without maintaining their centered position.

As shown in Figs. 3-6, the first delivering section 24 is designed to receive plural rows of upright preforms 36 from the injection molding station 22 and to deliver the inverted preforms 36 to the cooling station 26. The first delivering section 24 comprises a removing mechanism 102 and an inverting mechanism 104.

The removing mechanism 102 comprises four removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d extending in the direction B perpendicular to the preform carrying direction A, and a row pitch changing mechanism 108 for reducing the row pitch between the respective row of preforms that have been removed by, the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d.

Each of the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d has eight cylindrical receiving members 112 which can receive and hold parts of the preforms with a spacing corresponding to the spacing between the preforms 36 of one row in the injection molding station 22.

Each of the receiving members 112 has its height sufficient to move into the injection molding station 22 without interference with the preforms 36 at least on the mold opening stage and to receive the parts of the preforms 36 when the neck molds are downward moved. When the receiving members 112 are retracted from the injection molding station 22, thus, the inverting mechanism 104 can easily and reliably hold the parts of the preforms 36 adjacent to their necks while exposing them and can also support at least parts of the preform bottom and barrel portions so that the preforms will not be inclined or the necks thereof will be changed in position. It is also preferred that each of the receiving members 112 is in the form of a cylinder having the same internal diameter as the barrel diameter of the preforms 36.

When the preforms 36 are released and fall out of the split neck cavity molds 62, they will be received simultaneously by the receiving members 112.

Removing rails 134 are disposed on the opposite sides of the injection cavity mold 54 and between the tie-bars 48 and extend from the injection molding station 22 to the first delivering section 24. A pair of support plates 132 for supporting the removing rails 134 are fixedly mounted on the lower mold clamping plate 46 between the tie-bars 48.

The row pitch changing mechanism 108 includes a removing mechanism support base 130 located between the injection molding station 22 and the cooling station 26. Two pairs of upper and lower removing rails 134 are mounted between the removing mechanism support base 130 and the removing rail supporting plates 132. The removing rails 134 slidably support the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d at their opposite ends.

The removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d can be stopped and engaged by stopper rods 136 with the row pitch in the injection molded preforms.

A rodless type removing cylinder 138 is disposed between the upper and lower removing rails 134 and is connected to the removing plate 106a. When the removing cylinder 138 is actuated to move the removing plate 106a in the direction opposite to the direction A, the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d are arranged to have their pitch equal to that of the injection molded preforms 36 through the stopper rods 136. When the removing plate 106a is moved in the direction A by the removing cylinder 138, the removing plate 106a is urged against the removing plates 106b, 106c and 106d so that the row pitch therein will be reduced.

The inverting mechanism 104 is designed to invert four rows of eight preforms 36 simultaneously removed by the removing mechanism 102 by inverting 32 holding members 140 holding these preforms when an inverting motor 142 on the removing mechanism support base 130 is actuated to rotate inverting arms 110 from the side of the removing mechanism 102 to the side of the cooling station 26 about an inverting shaft 144.

The inverting mechanism 104 comprises a column pitch changing mechanism 146 for moving the holding members 140 to change the column pitch in the direction B perpendicular to the direction A, and an elevator mechanism 148 for elevating the holding members 140 for delivery of the preforms 36.

Each of the holding members 140 comprises a set of two preform holding plates 114 each of which includes notches for holding one preform 36 at the opposed positions. These preform holding plates 114 are supported by four opening/closing rods 116a and 116b extending in the direction A.

More particularly, one of the preform holding plates 114 is supported by the opening/closing rod 116a, the other preform holding plate 114 being supported by the other opening/closing rod 116b. A spring 150 between the holding members 140 of the opening/closing rods 116a and 116b biases the corresponding set of preform holding plates 114 to close them.

When a holding member opening/closing cylinder 118 is actuated to urge an urging plate 120 against the end of the opening/closing rod 116a, the other opening/closing rod 116b is moved in the opposite direction to open the four holding members 140 at the same time. If the urging force is released, the holding members 140 will be closed.

The column pitch changing mechanism 146 is designed to move a set of four holding members 140 arranged in the preform carrying direction A as a unit along a plurality of guide rails 152 extended parallel to the inverting arms 110 in the direction B perpendicular to the preform carrying direction A.

The holding members 140 are grouped into two sets of four holding members 140 about the center. Each set of four adjacent holding members 140 are connected to one another through guide rods 154 so that the holding members 140 will be positioned with a given pitch.

When two sets of four holding members 140 are moved outward away from each other by actuation of two rodless type column pitch changing cylinders 155 provided for each set, the column pitch in the holding members 140 can be changed to another column pitch in the cooling station 26 through the guide rods 154 (the right-hand portion of Fig. 3 showing the row pitch changing state). Thus, the outer set of two leftward and rightward holding members 140 are inward moved and engaged by the inner set of four holding members 140 (the left-hand portion of Fig. 3 showing such an engagement state). The inner set of four holding members 140 is adapted to be positioned in place by engaging them with stopper means 154 on the column pitch changing stage. The column pitch changing or returning operation is adapted to be performed during the inverting or returning operation in the inverting mechanism 104.

The elevator mechanism 148 comprises elevator guide rods 156 for elevatingly supporting the inverting arms 110 and an elevator cylinder 158 for elevating the inverting arms 110 along the elevator guide rods 156.

As will be apparent from Fig. 5, the elevator mechanism 148 is designed to move up or down the holding members 140 between a position C in which the holding members 140 hold the preforms 36 on the receiving members 112 and another position D in which the preforms 36 are removed out of the receiving members 112 and also between an after-inversion delivery stand-by position E and a delivery position F.

When the holding members 140 are in the position D in which the preforms 36 are removed while being held and if the inverting mechanism 104 is actuated to invert the holding members 140, the holding members 140 will be positioned directly at the delivery position F. On the way of the inverting step, therefore, the holding members 140 are moved upward to position at the delivery stand-by position E through the elevator mechanism 148. On the way of the returning step, contrarily, the holding members 140 are moved to the removing position D to avoid any interference so that the holding members 140 will not be moved directly to the holding position C from the delivery stand-by position E during the returning step.

Because the removing mechanism 102 receives the injection molded preforms 36 after the row pitch thereof has been reduced by the row pitch changing mechanism 108 and because the inverting mechanism 104 inverts and delivers the preforms 36 to the cooling station 26 after the column pitch in the inverted preforms 36 has been changed to the carrying pitch in the cooling station 26 while maintaining the reduced row pitch therein, the pitch of the preforms 36 in the direction in which they are carried in the cooling station 26 can be reduced to improve the efficiency on carrying.

Since the simultaneously molded preforms are simultaneously delivered from one station to another station while the column pitch changing and elevating operations are simultaneously performed during the inverting operation, time required to deliver the preforms and thus the molding cycle can be reduced.

As shown in Fig. 1, the cooling station 26 is designed to cool four rows of 32 inverted preforms 36 received from the first delivery section 24 with their reduced row pitch while intermittently carrying the preforms 36. Thus, the cooling station 26 comprises a plurality (e.g., four) of first carrying paths 200, a cooling mechanism 168 located on the middle of each of the first carrying paths 200 and a rotation mechanism 176.

The first carrying paths 200 are shared by the heating station 30 and extend between the first delivery section 24 and the second delivery section 32. Each of the carrying paths 200 includes a plurality of first carrying members 206 each for supporting an inverted preform 36 from the first delivery section 24, and a first carrying mechanism 208 for intermittently carrying the first carrying members 206 to the second delivery section 32 in the preform carrying direction A.

There are a plurality of first carrying member pairs 206 which are spaced away from one another with a given spacing in the preform carrying direction A. In each of the first carrying member pairs, two carrying members 206 are spaced away from each other on the respective first carrying path 200 in the preform carrying direction A.

As shown in Fig. 7, each of the first carrying member pairs 206 is rotatably mounted on a bracket 212. Each first carrying member 206 includes a preform supporting portion 214 extended outward from the top thereof. The preform supporting portion 214 is designed to be inserted into the neck of a corresponding preform 36 so that it can be supported in its inverted state. Each of the first carrying members 206 includes a rotation sprocket 216 mounted thereon at the bottom end, the rotation sprocket 216 forming part of the rotation mechanism. When a first carrying member 206 is in the first delivery position of the preforms 36, that first carrying members 206 can be positioned to receive the preforms 36 by a positioning side plate 180. Thus, the preforms 36 can be reliably delivered to the respective carrying members 206.

Each of the first carrying mechanisms 208 comprises a first carrying chain 218 and a first carrying actuator (not shown).

Each of the carrying chains 218 is disposed between two first carrying members 206 to extend in the preform carrying direction A. The carrying chain 218 is supported by a driven sprocket 222 on the side of the cooling station 26 and also supported by a drive sprocket (not shown) connected to the first carrying actuator on the side of the second delivery section 32. The first carrying chain 218 is fixedly connected to the middle of each of the bracket 212 on which the first carrying member pair is mounted. Each of the brackets 212 is guided by first carrying rails 224 which are disposed to extend in the respective first carrying paths 200.

The rotation mechanism 176 is designed to rotate the preforms 36 about their longitudinally axes so that they can be uniformly cooled around the circumference thereof. The details thereof will be described together with a rotation mechanism in the heating station 30 later.

As shown in Fig. 7 (in which only the cooling mechanisms in two first carrying paths are shown), each of the cooling mechanism 168 includes a cross-flow type cooling fan 172 which is located above the corresponding first carrying path 200 and extends in the preform carrying direction A, and a guide plate 174 located below the cooling fan 172 for conducting a cooling air toward the preforms 36 on two rows of first carrying members 206. This guide plate 174 is also located between two rows of preforms 36 to direct the cooling air from the cooling fan 172 toward the side walls of each of the preform rows.

As shown in Figs. 1 and 9, the heating station 30 is designed to heat the preforms 36 after they have been cooled by the cooling station 26 and comprises two heating station units 30 disposed parallel to each other.

Each of the heating station units 30 comprises a first carrying path 200 shared by the cooling station 26, heating boxes 202 and a rotation mechanism 204.

There are two sets of two heating boxes 202 which are disposed on the opposite sides of the first carrying path 200 and upstream and downstream in the preform carrying direction A.

A gap corresponding to one row of the preforms 36 is provided between the upstream and downstream heating boxes 202. At this gap, one row of the preforms 36 is temporarily stopped to reduce any difference of temperature between the inner and outer walls of the preform 36 after it has been heated by the upstream heating box 202 and before it is supplied to the downstream heating box 202.

The spacing between the upstream and downstream heating boxes 202 may be varied depending on the wall-thickness in the preforms 36.

Each set of two heating boxes 202 includes a reflecting or shielding plate 236 extending therebetween in the preform carrying direction A for shielding two preforms 36 from each other.

Each of the heating boxes 202 includes a plurality of heaters 238 which extend in the preform carrying direction A and are arranged vertically in the axial direction of the preforms 36. Each of these heaters 238 is supported for forward and backward movement relative to the preforms 36, as shown in the second heating box 202 counted from the left end of Fig. 14. Thus, the temperature profile along the length of the preforms 36 can be regulated.

Each heating box 202 includes a reflecting plate 240 behind the heaters 238 and a terminal base 242 provided on the top thereof. The bottom of the heating box 202 is supported on a bed 246 through a hollow support leg 244 which communicates with the interior of the heating box 202. The support leg 244 is also connected to a blower 248 which is mounted within the bed 246.

A cooling air is supplied from the blowers 248 to the interior of the heating boxes 202 behind the reflecting plates 240 through the support legs 244, the cooling air being then moved to the upper parts of the heating boxes 202. Thus, the reflecting plates 240 can be prevented from being overheated resulting in prolongment of the service life in the reflecting plates 240. The cooling air can cool the terminal bases 242 and also the opposite supported ends of the heaters 238 extending in the preform carrying direction A. This can further prolong the service life in the heaters.

The rotation mechanism 204 is designed to heat the preforms 36 uniformly around the circumference thereof and independent of the rotation mechanism 176 in the cooling station 26.

The rotation mechanisms 176 and 204 in the cooling and heating stations 26, 30 are of a structure similar to each other as shown in Fig. 10. Fig. 10 shows only two first carrying paths 200, but it will be apparent that the other two first carrying paths 200 are of the same structure.

Each of the rotation mechanisms 176 and 204 comprises a first rotation chain 250 shared by two first carrying paths 200 and two second rotation chains 252 extending on each first carrying path 200 in the preform carrying direction A.

The first rotation chain 250 is spanned between two first carrying paths 200 and passed around four driven sprockets 254, 270, a drive sprocket 258 operatively connected to a rotation motor (not shown) and a biasing sprocket 260. Each of the two driven sprockets 270 includes a cooperative sprocket 270a integrally formed thereon.

Each of the second rotation chains 252 is spanned between and passed around two sprockets 262a and 262b and in operative engagement with rotation sprockets 216 on the first carrying members which are being carried in one line on each of two first carrying paths 200.

The sprocket 262a in one of two second rotation chains 252 on each of the first carrying paths 200 is operatively connected to the respective cooperative sprocket 264 through a gearing (not shown). The cooperative sprocket 264 is further operatively connected to the sprocket 262a in the other second rotation chain 252 through a cooperative gear 268.

The cooperative sprocket 270a on each of the driven sprockets 270 is operatively coupled to each of the cooperative sprockets 264 in each first carrying path 200 through a cooperative chain 266.

When the rotation motor is initiated to rotate each of the drive sprockets 258 clockwise, the two sprockets 262a in each first carrying path 200 are rotated through the first rotation chain 250, driven sprocket 270, cooperative sprocket 264, cooperative gear 268 and others. Thus, each of the second rotation chains 252 is moved in a direction as shown by arrow to rotate the first carrying member rotating sprockets 216 engaging the second rotation chain 252 in the opposite direction to the preform carrying direction A. As a result, the preforms will be rotated about their longitudinal axes.

A non-rotation area 272 is formed between the cooling and heating stations 26, 30 in each of the carrying paths 200. Each of the non-rotation areas 272 includes a gate cutting mechanism 170.

Each of the gate cutting mechanisms 170 comprises four gate cutters 186 located above the corresponding first carrying path 200 and a gate cutter elevator mechanism 188 for elevating these gate cutters 186, as shown in Fig. 8 which only shows the gate cutter mechanisms corresponding to two of the four first carrying paths).

When the preforms 36 intermittently carried by the first carrying members 206 are stopped at the position of the gate cutters 186, the gate cutter elevator mechanism 188 is actuated to lower the gate cutters 186 for cutting the bottom gates of the preforms 36 from above the performs 36. The height of the gate cutters 186 may be suitably adjusted by an adjustment mechanism 190 depending on the size of the preforms 36.

As shown in Fig. 1, there are two second delivery sections 32 which are disposed parallel to each other in the heating stations 26. Each of the second delivery sections 32 is designed to deliver the preforms 36 from the corresponding heating station 26 to the corresponding blow molding station 34.

As shown in Figs. 11 to 13, each of the delivery sections 32 comprises a transfer mechanism 502 for transferring four preforms 32 heated by the corresponding heating station 30 to the corresponding blow molding station 34 in their inverted state, and a pitch changing mechanism 504 for changing the pitch in the inner two preforms 36 in one row of four preforms 36 on the corresponding first carrying path 200 to a blow molding pitch in the corresponding blow molding station 34 without changing the pitch between the preforms 36 on two first carrying paths within the corresponding heating station 30.

The transfer and pitch changing mechanisms 502, 504 are mounted on a frame 508 which is supported by supports 506 above the transfer area.

Each of the transfer mechanism 502 comprises gripping members 510 for gripping the necks of the preforms 36, a gripping member opening/closing mechanism 512 for opening/closing the gripping members 510 to grip/release the preforms 36, an elevator mechanism 514 for elevating the gripping members 510, and a movement mechanism 516 for moving the gripping members 510 from the gripping position adjacent to the corresponding heating station 510 to the receiving position adjacent to the corresponding blow molding station 34.

Each of the gripping members 510 comprises a pair of gripping arms 510a and 510b which are disposed opposed to each other for gripping the neck of a preform 36. There are two pairs of such gripping members 510 which are provided for the preforms 36 carried along the two carrying paths 200. The pair of gripping arms 510a and 510b in each of the gripping members 510 are disposed spaced away from each other in the vertical direction. The lower ends of each of the gripping arm pairs 510a and 510b are designed to grip the neck of a preform 36.

There are a pair of the gripping member opening/closing mechanisms 512 which can open/close two sets of gripping members 510 corresponding to the preforms 36 carried along each of the first carrying paths 200.

Each of the gripping member opening/closing mechanisms 512 is designed to open/close the gripping arms 510a and 510b in each of the gripping members 510 for griping/releasing the preforms 36 and thus comprises a pair of slide rods 518a and 518b disposed parallel to each other in the vertical direction and a gripping member opening/closing cylinder 520.

One of the slide rods 518a fixedly supports one of the gripping arms 510a ana slidably extends through the other gripping arm 510b. The other slide rod 518b slidably extends through the one gripping arm 510a and fixedly supports the other gripping arm 510b. Each of the slide rods 518a and 518b includes a rack portion 522 formed therein adjacent to one end and located opposed to that of the other slide rod. A pinion 524 is located to engage in between these rack portions 522.

The gripping member opening/closing cylinder 520 is connected to the one slide rod 518a. When the cylinder 520 is actuated to slidably move the one slide rod 518a, the other slide rod 518b is moved in the opposite direction through the pinion 524. Thus, the gripping arms 510a and 510b in the gripping member 510 car be opened or closed.

The elevator mechanism 514 is designed to move the gripping members 510 in the vertical direction for removing and delivering the preforms 36 and comprises a support bracket 526 for elevatingly supporting the corresponding gripping member opening/closing mechanism 512 and an elevator cylinder 530 including an elevator rod 528 connected to the support bracket 526. When the gripping member opening/closing mechanism 512 is moved upward, the .gripping members 510 are also elevated in the upward direction.

The movement mechanism 516 is designed to move the gripping members 510 from the preform removal position in the respective heating station 30 to the delivery position in the respective blow molding station 34. Thus, the movement mechanism 516 comprises a rodless cylinder 532, movement guide rods 534, movement members 536, a contacting/separating movement guide rod 538 and contacting/separating movement members 540.

The rodless cylinder 532 is located in the frame 508 substantially at the center thereof and extends in the preform carrying direction A.

There are a pair of such movement guide rods 534 which are disposed parallel to each other on the opposite sides of the rodless cylinder 532.

Each of the movement member 536 is connected to the rodless cylinder 532 and slidably engaged by the corresponding movement guide rod 534 for movement in the preform carrying direction A.

The contacting/separating movement guide rod 538 is located to extend in the direction B perpendicular to the preform carrying direction A and mounted at its middle on the movement members 536 for movement in the preform carrying direction A.

There are a pair of contacting/separating movement members 540 which are slidably supported by the contacting/separating guide rod 538 at the opposite ends about the movement guide rods 534.

Each of the contacting/separating movement members 540 is operatively mounted on the corresponding elevator cylinder 530.

When the rodless cylinder 532 is actuated to move the movement members 536 along the respective movement guide rods 534 in the preform carrying direction A, the elevator mechanisms 514 are respectively moved through the contacting/separating movement guide rods 538 and contacting/separating movement members 540. Thus, two gripping members 510 connected to each of the elevator mechanisms 514 through the respective gripping member opening/closing mechanism 512 will also be moved outside of the respective movement guide rod 534 in the preform carrying direction A.

Each of the pitch changing mechanisms 504 comprises a pitch changing guide rod 542 which gradually approaches the corresponding movement guide rod 534 going from the corresponding heating station 30 to the corresponding blow molding station 34. Each of the pitch changing guide rods 542 is connected to the corresponding contacting/separating movement member 540 through a bracket 544 and movably supports this contacting/separating movement member 540.

As each of the movement members 536 is moved in the preform carrying direction A, the corresponding contacting/separating movement guide rod 538 is also moved to move the corresponding contacting/separating movement member 540 while being guided by the corresponding pitch changing guide rod 542. Thus, the contacting/separating movement members 540 are gradually slidably moved toward each other on the respective contacting/separating guide rods 538. As the gripping members 510 reach the delivery position in the respective blow molding station 34, the pitch between the inner gripping members 510 mounted on the gripping member opening/closing mechanisms 512 is changed to the blow molding pitch.

The blow molding station 34 includes two blow molding station units which can simultaneously blow mold two groups of four preforms 36 heated by the heating station units 26.

Each of the blow molding station units 34 comprises a second carrying path 400, a receiving section 402, a blow molding section 404 and a removing section 406, as shown in Figs. 1 and 14.

The second carrying path 400 is of a substantially rectangular configuration which has one side disposed opposed to the corresponding second delivering section 410. The second carrying path 400 thus comprises second carrying members 408 and a second carrying mechanism 410.

Each of the second carrying members 408 is designed to support and carry an inverted preform 36 and supported by a bracket 414 with a preform supporting portion 412 extending upward therefrom.

The second carrying mechanism 410 is designed to carry the second carrying members 408 intermittently and comprises a substantially rectangularly disposed second carrying chain 418 which are passed around four sprockets 416 on the corresponding second carrying path 400 at the respective corners. The second carrying chain 418 is guided by a second carrying rail 420 which is disposed along the second carrying path 400. Each group of four second carrying members 408 with the blow molding pitch is connected to the second carrying chain 418 through the bracket 414.

Any one of the four sprockets 416 is operatively connected to an intermittently carrying motor (not shown) which can be actuated to carry each group of four second carrying members 408 in the intermittent manner.

The receiving section 402 is located adjacent to the second delivering section 32 in the respective second carrying path 400 for receiving four preforms 36 from the second delivering section 32 at a time. The four second carrying members 408 are intermittently stopped a position corresponding to the four gripping members 510 in the second delivering section 32.

Each of the blow molding sections 404 is located on one side of the respective second carrying path 400 downstream in the preform carrying direction and designed to simultaneously stretch blow mold the preforms 36 received by the receiving section into containers. The blow molding section 404 thus comprises a stretch blow molding device 422 for simultaneously stretch blow molding four preforms 36 received by the receiving section 402 into containers. The stretch blow molding device 422 is designed to open/close its mold halves in the direction perpendicular to the preform carrying direction along the second carrying path 400 in the respective blow molding section 404. Thus, the stretch blow molding device 422 comprises a mold clamping mechanism 424 located within a space between the opposite sides of the second carrying path 400.

A stand-by section 426 for receiving the preforms 36 to be blow molded by one shot is located between the receiving section 402 and the stretch blow molding device 422 of the blow molding section 404. At the stand-by section 426, the difference of temperature in the preforms 36 heated by the heating station 30 can be reduced. The stand-by section 426 may be provided with a temperature regulating section for flat containers.

The removing section 406 is located on one side of the second carrying path 400 opposed to the receiving section 402 and designed to remove the containers from the stretch blow molding device 422 of the blow molding section 404 after the containers have been stretch blow molded by the stretch blow molding device 422. For such a purpose, the removing section 406 includes a removing device 430 which is located on the second carrying path 400 at a position opposed to the removing position and which can remove four containers 428 at the removing section 406.

As shown in Fig. 14, the removing device 430 comprises four gripping members 432 disposed at a position opposed to the necks of the containers 428, an opening/closing mechanism 436 having an opening/closing cylinder 434 for opening/closing the gripping members 432, an inverting mechanism 440 having an inverting actuator 438 for inverting the gripping members 432, an elevator mechanism 444 having an elevator cylinder 442 for elevating the opening/closing and inverting mechanisms 436, 440 as well as the gripping members 432, and an advancing/retracting mechanism 448 having an advancing/retracting cylinder 446.

When the advancing/retracting cylinder 446 is actuated to retract the opening/closing and inverting mechanisms 436, 440 and gripping members 432 out of the removing section 406 on the second carrying path 400, the gripping members 432 are waited being opened toward the second carrying path 400. As the containers 428 are stopped on the second carrying path 400, the advancing/retracting cylinder 446 is actuated to advance the gripping members 432. The opening/closing cylinder 434 is then actuated to close the gripping members 432 for gripping the necks of the containers 428. The elevator cylinder 442 is then actuated to move the gripping members 432 in the upward direction so that the necks of the containers 428 will be removed out of the second carrying members 408. Thereafter, the advancing/retracting cylinder 446 is actuated to retract the gripping members 432. The elevator cylinder 442 is lowered while the inverting actuator 438 is actuated to invert the gripping members 432. At this time, the opening/closing cylinder 434 is actuated to open the gripping members 432. As a result, the necks of the containers 428 will be released. The containers will fall and be removed out of the system.

Each of the blow molding station units 34 includes a plurality of bases (not shown) on the machine base 450. One of the bases adjacent to the removing section 106 is a movable base that can be moved relative to the stationary base along the longer sides of the second carrying path 400. The movable base includes two of the sprockets 416 for the second carrying mechanism 410.

The movable base 452 also includes a biasing mechanism for biasing the movable base 452 in a direction in which the opposite sides of the second carrying path 400 are separated away from each other to bias the second carrying chain 418.

The removing device 430 is integrally mounted on the movable base. Thus, it is not required to center the removing device 430 after the tension in the second carrying chain 418 has been adjusted.

An injection blow molding method using the aforementioned injection blow molding system 20 will now be described.

In the injection molding step, the injection molding station 22 first moves the upper mold clamping plate 50 of the injection molding device 42 in the downward direction to close the injection cavity mold 54, injection core molds 56 and split neck cavity molds 62. When the resin material is injected into the cavities of the injection cavity mold 54, four rows of eight preforms arranged in the direction B perpendicular to the preform carrying direction A are simultaneously injection molded.

After the injection molded preforms 36 have been cooled for a given time, the clamping/driving cylinder (not shown) is actuated to move the upper mold clamping plate 50 in the upward direction for releasing the preforms 36 out of the injection cavity mold 54. The hydraulic releasing cylinder 78 is then actuated to slightly move the stripper plate 66 relative to the injection core mold fixing plate 58 in the downward direction. Thus, gaps are formed between the injection core molds 56 and the preforms 36. Therefore, the preforms 36 can be released out of the injection core mold 56 while the split neck cavity molds 62 hold the necks of the preforms 36 relative to the injection core molds 56.

When the preforms 36 are in their released position out of the injection core molds 56, the stripper plate elevator cylinder 72 is actuated to move the bottom end of the stripper plate elevator rod in the downward direction. As a result, the stripper plate will be moved in the downward direction.

It is preferred that the stripper plate 66 is stopped at its lowermost limit so that the preforms 36 will not be completely drawn out through the stopper rods (not shown).

At this lowermost limit position, the neck mold opening cylinder 94 is actuated to move the neck mold opening cams in the downward direction. The neck mold opening cams then open the neck mold fixing plate guide rails 68. Thus, the neck mold fixing plate 64 opens the split neck cavity molds 62 wherein the necks of the preforms 36 are released. As a result, the preforms 36 will fall and be removed out of the system.

Since the injection core molds 56 remain within the respective preforms 36 at this time, the preforms 36 can fall while substantially maintaining their centers under the control of the injection core molds 56.

In the first delivering step, the removing cylinder 138 in the first delivering section 24 is actuated to move the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d of the removing mechanism 102 rightward as viewed in Figs. 3 and 4 from the position in which the removing plates have been reduced in pitch along the removing rails 134. The pitch in the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d is changed to the larger row pitch in the injection molded preforms 36 through the stopper rods 136. The receiving members 112 on the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d will be positioned below the respective preforms 36. As the preforms 36 are released from the split neck cavity molds 62 and then fall onto the receiving members 112, parts of the bottoms and barrels of the preforms 35 will be housed and held with the portions of the preforms 36 adjacent to the necks thereof being outward exposed. In such a manner, the preforms 36 simultaneously injection molded will be simultaneously received by the receiving members 112.

The removing cylinder 138 is then actuated to move the removing plate 106a leftward as viewed in Figs. 3 and 4. This causes the row pitch changing mechanism 108 to urge the removing plate 106a against the other removing plates 106b, 106c and 106d. The engagement between the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d reduces the row pitch in the injection molded preforms 36 which are in turn positioned on the side of the inverting mechanism 104.

In such a case, the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d can be stably moved since they are moved on the removing rails 134 which are supported by the removing rail support plates 132 between the tie-bars 48.

The inverting mechanism 104 is placed at the removing position D after the removing mechanism 102 has removed the preforms 36 with the changed column pitch and when the holding members 140 are matched to the column and row pitches in the removing mechanism. At this time, the holding member opening/closing cylinder 118 is actuated to open the holding members 140. The elevator cylinder 158 in the elevator mechanism 148 is then actuated to move the holding members 140 downward to the holding position C. The holding members 140 are then closed to hold the portions of the preforms 36 adjacent to the necks thereof.

At this time, the portions of the preforms 36 adjacent to the necks thereof can be easily and reliably held by the holding members 140 since they are exposed out of the receiving members 112.

The elevator cylirder 158 is again actuated to move the holding members 140 upward to the removing position D. As a result, the preforms 33 will be drawn out of the receiving members 112.

The inverting motor 142 is then actuated to rotate the inverting arms 110 toward the cooling station 26 about the inverting shaft 144 for inverting the preforms 36.

On the way of this inverting step, the column pitch changing cylinder 155 in the column pitch changing mechanism 146 is actuated to move a set of four left- and right-hand holding members 140 outward so that the column pitch in the holding members 140 is changed to the preform carrying pitch required by the cooling station 26 through the guide rods 154.

On the way of the inverting step, further, the elevator cylinder 158 is also actuated to move the inverting arms 110 toward the delivery/stand-by position E, so that any interference between the inverting arms 110 and the cooling station 26 can be avoided.

As the inverting step terminates, the holding members 140 are in the delivery/stand-by position E.

After it has been confirmed that all the four preforms had been carried out, the elevator cylinder 158 is actuated to move the inverting arms 110 in the downward direction so that the holding members 140 will be moved to the delivery position F wherein the inverted preforms 36 are received by the first carrying members 206 in the cooling station 26.

Since the first carrying members 206 have been positioned by the positioning plate 180 at the receiving position, the preforms 36 can be reliably inserted into the first carrying members 206.

The holding members opening/closing cylinder 118 is then actuated to open the holding members 140 which are in turn elevated to the delivery/stand-by position E by the elevator cylinder 158. Thus, the simultaneously molded preforms 36 will be simultaneously delivered.

After termination of the delivery, the inverting mechanism 104 returns the inverting arms 110 to their original position. On the way of this returning step, the column pitch changing mechanism 146 is returned to its original position while at the same time the first carrying members 206 are returned to the removing position D wherein they are placed in their stand-by position.

In such a manner, the removing mechanism 102 can remove the injection molded preforms 36 after the row pitch in these preforms 36 has been reduced by the row pitch changing mechanism 108. The inverting mechanism 104 can deliver the inverted preforms 36 to the cooling station 26 after the column pitch in the inverted preforms 36 has been changed to the carrying pitch required by the cooling station 26 while maintaining the reduced row pitch. Thus, the preforms can be more effectively carried in the cooling station 26 with the reduced carrying pitch.

The simultaneously molded preforms can be simultaneously delivered from one station to the other station. The column pitch changing operation as well as the elevating operations can be simultaneously performed during the inverting operation. Thus, time required to make the delivery can be reduced to decrease the molding cycle. Since the removing mechanism is separated from the inverting mechanism, further, each of these mechanisms can be reduced in weight. This can improve the operational speed of the entire system.

In the cooling step, the inverted preforms 36 are intermittently carried along the first carrying path 200 while they are held by the first carrying members 206 and rotated about their longitudinal axes by the rotation mechanism 176. The cooling air is conducted from the cooling fan 172 to the preforms 36 through the guide plate 174 to additionally cool the preforms 36. This can increase the heating influence in the heating station 30.

At this time, the preforms 36 can be uniformly cooled around their circumferences since they are rotated about their axes by the rotation mechanism

After the cooling step and before the heating step, the gate in each of the preforms 36 can be easily and reliably cut away by the gate cutting mechanism 170 while being not rotated.

In the heating step, the preforms 36 cooled by the cooling station 26 are intermittently carried along the first carrying path 200. The preforms 36 are heated by the heating boxes 202 on the middle of each first carrying path 200 up to an appropriate blow molding temperature while the first carrying members 206 are being rotated about their axes by the rotation mechanism 204. Thereafter, the preforms 32 are moved to the second delivery section 32.

The preforms 36 can be uniformly heated around their circumferences since they are rotated by the rotation mechanism 204.

In each of the first carrying paths 200, the preform necks and first carrying members 206 will not be excessively heated with any adverse affection since the preforms 36 are heated which they are being carried by the first carrying members 206 in their inverted state.

Each of the first carrying paths 200 includes a gap corresponding to a space of one row of the preforms 36 provided between the upstream and downstream heating boxes 202. When one row of the preforms 36 are rested within such a gap, the difference of temperature between the inner and outer walls of that preforms after they have been heated by the upstream heating box 202 can be reduced before they are moved into the downstream heating box 202.

As shown in Fig. 9, the cooling air can be supplied into the interior of the heating boxes 202 by the blowers 348. This can prolong the service life in the reflectors 240 as well as the service life in the internal heaters 238 by cooling the terminal bases 204 and the opposite supported ends of the heaters 238. The heaters 238 can be moved toward or away from the preforms 36 within the heating boxes 202. Thus, the temperature profile in the preforms 36 along their longitudinal axes can be easily regulated.

In the second delivering step, the gripping members 510 are first positioned at the preform removing position in each of the heating stations 30. The elevator mechanism 514 is then actuated to move the gripping members 510 to the preform gripping position while at the same time the gripping member opening/closing mechanism 512 is actuated to open the gripping members 510. Thus, the preforms 36 will be placed in their stand-by position.

In each of the heating stations 30, the gripping members 510 are closed after the inverted and heated preforms 36 have been carried to and stopped at the preform receiving position. Thus, the necks of the preforms 36 are gripped by the gripping members 510. Thereafter, the gripping members 510 are moved in the upward direction to draw the necks of the preforms 36 out of the first carrying members 206.

As the movement members 536 are then moved along in the preform carrying direction A along the movement guide rods 534, the elevator mechanisms 514 are also moved through the contacting/separating movement guide rods 538 and contacting/separating movement members 540. Two gripping members 510 are thus moved outside of the respective movement guide rods 534 in the preform carrying direction A.

As the contacting/separating movement guide rods 538 are moved with the movement of the movement members 536 in the preform carrying direction A, the contacting/separating movement members 540 are moved toward each other being guided by the pitch changing guide rods 542. As the gripping members 510 reach the receiving position in each of the blow molding stations 34, the pitch in the inner gripping members 510 mounted on the pair of gripping member opening/closing mechanisms 512 is changed to the blow molding pitch.

As the intermittently carried second carrying members 408 are stopped at each of the receiving sections 402, each of the elevator mechanisms 514 is then actuated to move the gripping members 510 in the downward direction. Each of the gripping member opening/closing mechanisms 512 is then actuated to open the gripping members 510, so that the preforms 36 gripped by the gripping members 510 can be delivered to the respective second carrying members 408 in each of the blow molding stations 34.

When the elevator mechanism 514 is again actuated to move the gripping members 510 in the upward direction so that the gripping members 510 are retracted from the corresponding second carrying path 400, the preforms 36 can be carried along the second carrying path 400. The rodless cylinder 532 is then actuated to move the movement members 536 toward each of the heating stations 30. When the elevator mechanism 514 is then actuated to move the gripping members 510 in the downward direction, the stand-by state for the next removing step can be attained.

In the blow molding step, every four inverted preforms 36 are intermittently carried by the second carrying chains 418 of the second carrying mechanisms 410 while their necks are supported by the second carrying members 408 after the inverted preforms have been received by the receiving section 402 from the second delivery section 32 in each of the blow molding stations 34, as shown in Figs. 1 and 14. At the beginning of the intermittently carrying step, the preforms 35 are placed in the stand-by section 426 between the receiving section 402 and the blow molding section 404. During the stand-by state, the temperature in the preforms 36 heated by the heating station 30 is moderated.

After the temperature in the four preforms 36 has been moderated in the stand-by section 426, they are intermittently carried to the blow molding section 404. After the blow molds have been closed by the mold clamping mechanism 424 or the like, the four simultaneously heated preforms 36 are stretch blow molded into containers 428.

Since the simultaneously heated preforms 36 are blow molded into containers at the same time, the quality of blow molding can be maintained regular.

The blow molded containers 428 are then intermittently carried to the removing device 430 in the removing section 406.

When the advancing/retracting cylinder 446 of the advancing/retracting mechanism 448 is actuated to retract the removing device 430 from the second carrying path 400, the gripping members 432 are placed in their stand-by position in which they are opened to the second carrying path 400. As the containers 428 are carried, the gripping members 432 are advanced and closed to grip the necks of the containers 428. The elevator cylinder 442 is then actuated to move the gripping members 432 in the upward direction so that the necks of the containers 428 will be drawn out of the second carrying members 408. The advancing/retracting cylinder 446 is then actuated to retract the gripping members 432 and the elevator cylinder 442 are lowered. The inverting actuator 438 is thereafter actuated to invert the gripping members 432. If the gripping members 432 are opened at this time, the necks of the containers 428 will be released with the containers falling and being removed. Since the removing device 430 is mounted on the movable base used to tension the second carrying chains 418, it is not required to center the removing device 430 relative to the second carrying members 408 after adjustment of the tension.

The present invention is not limited to the aforementioned embodiment, but may be applied to various other forms within the scope of the invention.

For example, the number of preforms in one row and the number of preforms to be simultaneously molded may be suitably varied, although the aforementioned embodiment has been described as to four rows of eight preforms simultaneously injection molded in the injection molding station.

In the aforementioned embodiment, each of two heating stations heats four preforms and each of the blow molding stations blow molds four preforms. However, the present invention is not limited to such an arrangement, but the number of preforms to be carried may be optionally varied.

In the aforementioned embodiment, the pitch in the injection molded preforms is changed to the blow molding pitch required by the blow molding station when the preforms are to be carried from the heating station to the blow molding station. However, the present invention is not limited to such an arrangement, but may be applied to another form in which the carrying pitch in the preforms at the heating station has been preset to the blow molding pitch. Thus, it is not required to change the pitch in the second delivery section.

Another embodiment of an injection blow molding system constructed in accordance with the present invention will be described with reference to Figs. 16-21.

Fig. 16 is a plan view showing the entire layout of the injection blow molding system, in which the components having the same functions as in the system of Figs. 1-14 are designated by the same reference numerals, the detailed description thereof being omitted.

The injection blow molding system shown in Figs. 16-19 is substantially different from the system of Fig. 1 only in that the former includes first delivery sections 1000 and first carrying paths 2000.

As shown in Fig. 19, each of the first delivery sections 1000 comprises a removing mechanism 1001 having substantially the same function as in the system of Fig. 1, and a delivering mechanism 1002 for delivering the removed preforms to the corresponding first carrying path 2000 in their upright state.

As shown in Fig. 16, each of the first carrying paths 2000 comprises a primary carrying path 2110 including a cooling station 2100 disposed therein and a secondary carrying path 2210 including a heating station 2200 disposed therein. The primary carrying path 2110 is designed to parallel carry one row of N preforms in their upright state while the secondary carrying path 2210 is designed to parallel carry one row of N preforms in their inverted state. The first carrying path 2000 includes an intermediate delivery section 2300 located between the primary and secondary carrying paths 2110, 2210 for inverting and delivering the preforms.

In this embodiment, the delivering mechanism 1002 of the first delivery section 1000 must deliver a N×M matrix of injection molded preforms to the primary carrying path 2110 in their upright state since the upright preforms are carried along the upstream or primary carrying path 2110 in the first direction A.

The structure and function of such a delivering mechanism 1002 will be described with reference to Figs. 18 and 19.

Fig. 18 is a plan view showing the preforms 36 held by the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d while Fig. 19 is a side view showing the preforms removed from the injection molding station 22 after the row pitch in the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d shown in Fig. 18 has been reduced.

As shown in Fig. 19, there are receiving plates 1146a, 1146b, 1146c and 1146d that are placed in the stand-by position D. In such a situation, a first elevator cylinder 1156 is upward actuated to move the receiving plates 1146a, 1146b, 1146c and 1146d by a distance H and directly below the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d which are placed at the preform receiving position.

Thereafter, the preforms 36 held by the removing plates 106a, 106b, 106c and 106d are caused to fall and to be supportingly inserted into the respective bores in the receiving plates 1146a, 1146b, 1146c and 1146d.

The first and second elevator cylinders 1156, 1158 are then actuated to move the receiving plates 1146a, 1146b, 1146c and 1146d downward to the delivering position E through the stand-by position D. A receiving plate opening/closing cylinder (not shown) is actuated to deliver the preforms 36 from the receiving plates 1146a, 1146b, 1146c and 1146d to the cooling station 2100.

The structure and function of the cooling station 2100 will be described.

In the cooling station 2100, one row of eight upright preforms 36 are cooled by blower means while they are supported and intermittently carried from the injection molding station 22 toward the intermediate delivery section 2300 along the primary carrying path 2110 by a carrying belt 1176 with a row pitch smaller than the row pitch in the injection molding step. If each of the preforms is of a relatively thin wall-thickness, the preforms may be spontaneously cooled without use of any blower means.

As one row of eight preforms 36 are intermittently carried to and stopped at a position corresponding to centering cores 1182 shown in Fig. 19, a row correcting mechanism 1168 actuates a centering core elevator mechanism 1184 to downward move and insert the centering cores into the mouths of the preforms 36. As a result, the preforms 36 are correctly arranged into one row.

When the row correction is performed by the row correcting mechanism 1168 inserting the centering cores 1182 into the mouths of the preforms 36, a gate cutting mechanism 1170 actuates a gate cutter elevator mechanism 1188 to upward move gate cutters 1186 for cutting the bottom gates of the preforms 36.

When the corrected row of preforms 36 are stopped at the final end of the primary carrying path 2110, an ejecting mechanism 1172 is then actuated to move ejecting plates 1190 behind one row of preforms 36 at the final end of the primary carrying path 2110. While maintaining such a state, an ejecting cylinder 1192 is actuated to move the ejecting plates 1190 in the forward direction. As a result, one row of preforms 36 will be moved into the intermediate delivery section 2300.

In the intermediate delivery, one row of eight preforms 36 are slidably moved on a slide base 1280 in the intermediate delivery section 2300 after the preforms 36 have been ejected out of the primary carrying path 2110 by the ejecting mechanism 1172. Thereafter, the preforms 36 will be held by two sets of receiving members 1270a, 1270b, 1270c and 1270d shown in Fig. 20.

As shown in Fig. 20, thereafter, the pitch in the receiving members 1270a, 1270b, 1270c and 1270d (i.e., a smaller pitch on the right-hand half of Fig. 20) is changed to a pitch in the preforms 36 at the heating station 2200 (i.e., a larger pitch on the left-hand half of Fig. 20) by a pitch changing mechanism 1264. This changes the column pitch in one row of eight preforms 36.

After the preforms 36 held by the two sets of receiving members 1270a, 1270b, 1270c and 1270d has been positioned at the delivering position, first gripping members 1282 are opened to the neck sides of the preforms 36. Under such a situation, an opening/closing cylinder 1284 is actuated to close the first gripping members 1282 for gripping the necks of the preforms 36.

An inverting actuator 1288 is then actuated to invert the first gripping members 1282 from the side of the cooling station 2100 toward the side of the heating station 2200. As a result, the preforms are inverted.

The elevator mechanism is then actuated to move the first gripping members 1282 downward. The opening/closing cylinder 1284 is then actuated to open the first gripping members 1282 so that the necks of the preforms 36 will be released. Thus, the inverted preforms 36 can be delivered to the heating station 2200.

In the heating step, one row of eight inverted preforms 36 are heated while being parallel carried therethrough, as in the system of Fig. 1.

In the second delivery step, as shown in Fig. 21, four sets of second gripping members 1306 in the second delivery section 32 are placed in a stand-by position having the same height as the necks of the preforms 36 being carried along the secondary carrying path 2210. As the preforms intermittently carried by the carrying members 206 are stopped at the transferring/removing position, the necks of the preforms 36 are gripped by the second gripping members 1306. As the second gripping members 1306 are upward moved by a given distance under such a situation, the preforms 36 are drawn out of the carrying members 206 on the secondary carrying path 2210.

As shown by chain line in Fig. 21, the second gripping members 1306 are then translated toward the blow molding station 34. Therefore, the preforms 36 can be transferred to the blow molding station 34 while they are maintained in their inverted state.

Fig. 17 shows the other components (not shown in Fig. 2) in the injection molds disposed within the injection molding station 22. The other components will be supplementarily described below.

Fig. 17 shows a stripper plate elevator rod 74 that is moved up and down by a stripper plate elevator cylinder 72. The stripper plate 66 includes a connection 76 to the stripper plate elevator rod 74. The injection core mold holding plate 60, injection core mold fixing plate 58 and stripper plate 66 are formed with bores 90 through which the stopper rods 88 extend. Fig. 17 further shows neck mold opening cams 96 each connected to the corresponding neck mold opening cylinder 94. A bore 100 receiving each of the neck mold opening cams 96 is formed in each of the divided plates that define the neck mold fixing plate guide rails 68. The injection core mold holding plate 60 and injection core mold fixing plate 58 are formed with bores 98 through which the neck mold opening cams 96 are inserted.


Anspruch[de]
  1. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen, mit:
    • einer Spritzgießstation (22) zum Spritzgießen von Vorformlingen (36);
    • einer ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) zum Transport der Vorformlinge (36) in eine erste Richtung (A);
    • einem ersten Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000), welcher einen Entnahmemechanismus (102, 1001) zum Entnehmen der Vorformlinge (36) aus der Spritzgießstation (22) and einen Zuführmechanismus (1002) zum zuführen der entnommenen Vorformlinge (36) zu der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) umfasst;
    • einer auf der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) angeordneten Heizstation (30, 2200) zum Erwärmen der transportierten Vorformlinge (36) auf eine Temperatur, welche gleich oder höher als eine geeignete Strecktemperatur ist; und
    • mindestens einer Blasformstation (34) zum Streckblasformen der durch die Heizstation (30, 2200) erwärmten Vorformlinge (36) in Behälter (428);
    • wobei die Spritzgießstation (22) eine Spritzform (52) zum gleichzeitigen Spritzgießen der Vorformlinge (36) aufweist, wenn die Vorformlinge (36) in einer M x N Matrix (M ≥ 2, N ≥ 2) angeordnet sind, welche sich parallel zu einer rechtwinklig zur ersten Richtung (A) verlaufenden zweiten Richtung erstreckende M Reihen, sowie N Spalten in jeder Reihe hat;
    dadurch gekennzeichnet,
    • dass die erste Transportbahn (200, 2000) parallel angeordnete Transportglieder (206) zum gleichzeitigen Transport der einen Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) in einem umgekehrten Zustand durch die Heizstation (30, 2200) aufweist;
    • dass die Spritzform (52) obere und untere Formabschnitte zum gleichzeitigen Spritzgießen der Vorformlinge (36) in einem aufrechten Zustand aufweist;
    • dass die Spritzgießstation (22) ferner umfasst:
      • eine Klemmplatte (50) für die obere Form, an der der obere Formabschnitt befestigt ist;
      • eine Klemmplatte (46) für die untere Form, an der der untere Formabschnitt befestigt ist; und
      • einen Klemmplattenstellmechanismus mit vier Führungssäulen (48) zum Bewegen der Klemmplatte (50) für die obere Form in einer vertikalen Richtung; und
    • dass der Entnahmemechanismus (102) des ersten Zuführabschnitts (24) aufweist:
      • mindestens eine Entnahmeplatte (106), welche zur Aufnahme der Vorformlinge (36) in Richtung der Spritzgießstation (22) ausfährt und sich von dieser zurückzieht;
      • mehrere Entnahmeschienen (134), welche die mindestens eine Entnahmeplatte (106) an ihren entgegengesetzten Enden zwischen die Klemmplatten (46, 50) für die obere und untere Form führen;
    • wobei die Entnahmeschienen (134) fest zwischen dem unteren Formabschnitt (46) und den vier Führungssäulen (48) befestigt sind und sich ausgehend von der Spritzgießstation (22) in Richtung des Zuführabschnitts (24) erstrecken.
  2. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspuch 1,

    wobei die zumindest eine Entnahmeplatte (106) zylindrische Aufnahmeteile (112) zum Aufnehmen der Vorformlinge (36) aufweist, wobei deren Abschnitt, der durch Halteelemente (140) zu halten ist, frei liegt.
  3. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 1 oder 2,

    wobei der Entnahmemechanismus (102) in dem ersten Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) M Reihen der Entnahmeplatten (106) sowie einen Reihenabstand-Änderungsmechanismus (108) aufweist, welcher einen Reihenabstand der M Reihen von Entnahmeplatten (106) erhöht, wenn diese ausfahren, and den Reihenabstand verringert, wenn sich diese zurückziehen; und

    die Klemmplatte (46) für die untere Form Stützplatten (132) für die Entnahmeschienen zum festen Abstützen der Entnahmeschienen (134) aufweist.
  4. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei

    auf der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) in der ersten Richtung (A) gesehen vor der Heizstation (30) eine Kühlstation (26) angeordnet ist, um die Vorformlinge (36) von dem ersten Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) zu kühlen;

    die erste Transportbahn (200, 2000) mehrere Drehmechanismen (176, 204) zum unabhängigen Drehen der Vorformlinge (36) in der Kühlstation (26) and der Heizstation (30) sowie auch einen Nichtrotations-Bereich (272) aufweist, in welchem die Drehung zumindest einer Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) zwischen den Drehmechanismen (176, 204) gestoppt ist; und

    ein Anguss-Schneidemechanismus (170) zum Schneiden der Angüsse der zumindest einen Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) in dem Nichtrotations-Bereich (272) vorgesehen ist.
  5. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 4, wobei

    die zumindest eine Blasformstation (34) eine zweite Endlos-Transportbahn (400) aufweist; und zwischen der Heizstation (30) und der mindestens einen Blasformstation (34) ein zweiter Zuführabschnitt (32) zum Zuführen der erwärmten Vorformlinge (36) zu der zweiten Transportbahn (400) vorgesehen ist.
  6. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 1,

    wobei:
    • eine Kühlstation (26) zum Kühlen der Vorformlinge (36) vorgesehen ist, während die Vorformlinge (36) in die erste Richtung (A) transportiert werden;
    • der erste Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) zum Aufnehmen der Vorformlinge (36) aus der Spritzgießstation (22) die Vorformlinge (36) der Kühlstation (26) zuführt;
    • die Heizstation (30) die durch die Kühlstation (26) gekühlten Vorformlinge (36) erwärmt, während die Vorformlinge (36) in die erste Richtung (A) transportiert werden;
    • ein zweiter Zuführabschnitt (32) zum Aufnehmen der Vorformlinge (36) von der Heizstation (30) und zum Zuführen der Vorformlinge (36) zu den Blasformstationen (34) vorgesehen ist;
    • der erste Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) einen Entnahmemechanismus (102) zum Entnehmen der M x N Matrix der Vorformlinge (36) in einem aufrechten Zustand aus der Spritzgießstation (22) sowie einen Umkehrmechanismus (104) zum Umkehren der der Kühlstation (26) zuzuführenden Vorformlinge (36) aufweist;
    • die Kühlstation (26) and die Heizstation (30) die erste Transportbahn (200, 2000) für einen intermittierenden, gleichzeitigen Transport einer Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) in einem umgekehrten Zustand gemeinsam haben;
    • der zweite Zuführabschnitt (32) einen Übergabemechanismus (502) zur Aufnahme der einen Reihe von durch die Heizstation (30) erwärmten N Vorformlingen von der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) aufweist, um diese in einem umgekehrten Zustand an die Blasformstationen (34) zu übergeben; und
    • jede der Blasformstationen (36) aufweist:
      • eine zweite Transportbahn (400) von im Wesentlichen rechteckiger Form mit zwei kürzeren Seiten und zwei längeren Seiten;
      • einen an einer der kürzeren Seiten der zweiten Transportbahn (400) angeordneten Aufnahmeabschnitt (402) zum Aufnehmen der Vorformlinge (36) von dem zweiten Zuführabschnitt (32) in einem umgekehrten Zustand; einen an einer der längeren Seiten der zweiten Transportbahn (400) angeordneten Blasformabschnitt (404) zum gleichzeitigen Streckblasformen der von dem Aufnahmeabschnitt (402) aufgenommenen Vorformlingen (36) in Behälter (428); sowie
      • einen an der anderen kürzeren Seite gegenüber dem Aufnahmeabschnitt (402) angeordneten Entnahmeabschnitt (406) zum Entnehmen der durch den Blasformabschnitt (404) geformten Behälter (428).
  7. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 6,

    wobei der Entnahmemechanismus (102) im ersten Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) einen Reihenabstand-Änderungsmechanismus (108) zum Ändern des Abstandes zwischen den M Reihen aufweist; und

    der Umkehrmechanismus (104) in dem ersten Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) einen Spaltenabstand-Änderungsmechanismus (146) zum Ändern des Abstandes zwischen den N Spalten der vom Entnahmemechanismus (102) entnommenen Vorformlinge (36) aufweist.
  8. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 6 oder 7,

    wobei die Kühlstation (26) einen entlang der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) angeordneten Kühlventilator (172) und einen ersten Drehmechanismus (176) zum Drehen der Vorformlinge (36) an einer Position gegenüber dem Kühlventilator (172) umfasst; und

    die Heizstation (30) eine entlang der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) angeordnete Heizzelle (202) und einen zweiten Drehmechanismus (204) zum Drehen der Vorformlinge (36) in der Heizzelle (202) umfasst.
  9. Anordnung zum Streckblasformen nach Anspruch 1,

    wobei:
    • der Zuführabschnitt (24, 1000) umfasst:
      • M Reihen von Entnahmeplatten (106), von denen sich jede zur Aufnahme von N Vorformlingen (36) zwischen die oberen- und unteren Formabschnitte in der Spritzgießstation (22) bewegt; und
      • einen Entnahmemechanismus (102), welcher die M Reihen der Entnahmeplatten (106) in Richtung der Spritzgießstation (22) ausfährt und von dieser zurückzieht, um die M x N Vorformlinge (36) zu entnehmen, und der einen Abstandsänderungsmechanismus (108) aufweist, der zum Erhöhen des Reihenabstandes zwischen den M Reihen von Entnahmeplatten (106) dient, wenn diese ausgefahren werden, und zum Verringern des Reihenabstandes dient, wenn diese zurückgezogen werden.
  10. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 9,

    wobei der Zuführabschnitt (24, 100) Halteelemente (104) zum Halten der von dem Entnahmemechanismus (102) entnommenen M x N Vorformlinge (36) und einen Umkehrmechanismus (104) zum Umkehren der den Transportgliedern (206) zuzuführenden Vorformlinge (36) aufweist.
  11. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 10,

    wobei der Umkehrmechanismus (104) einen Spaltenabstand-Änderungsmechanismus (146) zum Ändern des Spaltenabstandes zwischen den N Spalten der durch den Entnahmemechanismus (102) entnommenen Vorformlinge (36) aufweist.
  12. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 11,

    wobei der Spaltenabstand-Änderungsmechanismus (146) den Spaltenabstand im Verlauf des Umkehrschritts im Umkehrmechanismus (104) ändert.
  13. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach einem der Ansprüche 9 bis 12,

    wobei jede der M Reihen an Entnahmeplatten (106) N zylindrische Aufnahmeteile (112) zum Aufnehmen von N Vorformlingen (36) aufweist, wobei deren Abschnitt, der durch Halteelemente (104) zu halten ist, frei liegt;

    und der Umkehrmechanimus (104) einen Hebemechanismus (148) aufweist, der die Halteelemente (140) zwischen der ersten Höhe, bei der die Vorformlinge (36) an den Aufnahmeteilen (112) von den Halteelementen (140) gehalten sind, einer zweiten Höhe, bei der die Vorformlinge (36) aus den Aufnahmeteilen (112) durch die Halteelemente (140) entfernt werden, einer dritten Höhe, bei der Halteelemente (140) in ihrer Wartestellung angeordnet sind, nachdem die Vorformlinge (36) umgedreht wurden, oder einer vierten Höhe bewegt, bei der die Vorformlinge (36) von den Halteelementen (140) der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) zugeführt werden; und

    der Hebemechanismus (148) dazu ausgelegt ist, den Hebebetrieb zwischen der ersten and der zweiten Höhe während des Umkehrschrittes des Umkehrmechanismus (104) auszuführen.
  14. Anordnung zum Streckblasformen nach einem der Ansprüche 9 bis 13,

    wobei die erste Transportbahn (200, 2000) einen Mechanismus (180) zum Positionieren der Transportglieder (206) aufweist, welche die Vorformlinge (36) von dem Umkehrmechanismus (104) aufnehmen.
  15. Anordnung zum Streckblasformen nach Anspruch 9,

    die ferner eine in der ersten Richtung (A) gesehen der Heizstation (30) vorgeordnete Kühlstation (26) zum gleichzeitigen Kühlen einer Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) aufweist.
  16. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 15,

    wobei die erste Transportbahn (200, 2000) eine Primär-Transportbahn (2110) auf der die Kühlstation (26) angeordnet ist, eine Sekundär-Transportbahn (2210), auf der die Heizstation (30) angeordnet ist, sowie einen Zwischenzuführabschnitt (2300) aufweist, der zum gleichzeitigen Zuführen einer Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) von der Primär-Transportbahn (2110) zu der Sekundär-Transportbahn (2210) dient.
  17. Anordnung zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 16,

    wobei:
    • die Primär-Transportbahn (2110) die eine Reihe N Vorformlinge (36) gleichzeitig in einem aufrechten Zustand transportiert;
    • die Sekundär-Transportbahn (2210) die eine Reihe N Vorformlinge (36) gleichzeitig in einem umgekehrten Zustand transportiert; und
    • der Zwischenzuführabschnitt (2300) die Vorformlinge (36) der Primär-Transportbahn (2210) umkehrt und die umgekehrten Vorformlinge (36) der Sekundär-Transportbahn (2210) zuführt.
  18. Verfahren zum Spritzblasformen, mit:
    • einem Spritzgießschritt zum gleichzeitigen Spritzgießen von Vorformlingen (36) in einer Spritzgießstation (22);
    • einem Entnahmeschritt zum Entnehmen der Vorformlinge (36) aus der Spritzgießstation (22);
    • einem ersten Zuführschritt zum Zuführen der entnommenen Vorformlinge (36) zu einer ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000);
    • einem Transportschritt zum Transport der Vorformlinge (36) entlang der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) in eine erste Richtung (A);
    • einem Erwärmungsschritt zum Erwärmen der Vorformlinge (36);
    • einem zweiten Zuführschritt zum Zuführen der erwärmten Vorformlinge (36) zu einer Blasformstation (34); und
    • einem Blasformschritt in der Blasformstation (34) zum Streckblasformen der zugeführten Vorformlinge (36) in Behälter (438);
    • wobei beim Spritzgießschritt die Vorformlinge (36) gleichzeitig spritzgegossen werden, während die Vorformlinge (36) in einer M x N (M≥2, N ≥2) Matrix angeordnet sind, welche sich parallel zu einer rechtwinklig zur ersten Richtung (A) verlaufenden zweiten Richtung erstreckende M Reihen, sowie N Spalten für jede Reihe aufweist;
    dadurch gekennzeichnet,
    • dass bei dem Spritzgießschritt die Vorformlinge (36) in einem aufrechten Zustand spritzgegossen werden;
    • dass bei dem Spritzgießschritt die spritzgegossenen Vorformlinge (36) für den Entnahmeschritt vertikal angeordnet werden;
    • dass bei dem Entnahmeschritt zumindest eine Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) durch zumindest eine Entnahmeplatte (106) in die erste Richtung (A) entnommen wird;
    • dass bei dem Transportschritt eine Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) durch parallel angeordnete Transportglieder (206) entlang der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) in einem umgekehrten Zustand transportiert werden; und
    • dass die Vorformlinge (36) während des Erwärmungsschrittes entlang der ersten Transportbahn (200, 2000) transportiert werden.
  19. Verfahren zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 18, das ferner umfasst:
    • einen Kühlschritt zum Kühlen der zugeführten Vorformlinge (36), während diese in einem umgekehrten Zustand in die erste Richtung transportiert werden;
    wobei:
    • während des Entnahmeschrittes ein Reihenabstand zwischen den M Reihen verändert wird, während die Vorformlinge (36) entnommen werden;
    • während des ersten Zuführschrittes ein Spaltenabstand zwischen den N Spalten verändert wird,
    • während die Vorformlinge (36) umgekehrt werden; und
    • während der Kühl- und Erwärmungsschritte gleichzeitig die eine Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) in die erste Richtung (A) transportiert wird.
  20. Verfahren zum Spritzblasformen nach Anspruch 18 oder 19, wobei:
    • der Erwärmungsschritt einen Schritt des gleichzeitigen Erwärmens einer Reihe mit N/2 Vorformlingen (36) durch zwei Heizstationen (30, 2200) aufweist, während eine Reihe von N Vorformlingen (36) gleichzeitig transportiert wird; und
    • der Blasformschritt einen Schritt des gleichzeitigen Streckblasformens der einen Reihe mit N/2 Vorformlingen (36) durch zwei Blasformstationen (34) umfasst, welche den Heizstationen (30, 2200) entsprechen.
Anspruch[en]
  1. An injection blow molding system comprising:
    • an injection molding station (22) for injection molding preforms (36);
    • a first carrying path (200, 2000) for carrying said preforms (36) in a first direction (A);
    • a first delivering section (24, 1000) which includes a removing mechanism (102, 1001) for removing said preforms (36) from said injection molding station (22) and a delivering mechanism (1002) for delivering said removed preforms (36) to said first carrying path (200, 2000);
    • a heating station (30, 2200) located on said first carrying path (200, 2000) for heating said carried preforms (36) to a temperature equal to or higher then a proper stretching temperature; and
    • at least one blow molding station (34) for stretch blow molding said preforms (36) heated by said heating station (30, 2200) into containers (428);
    • wherein said injection molding station (22) includes an injection mold (52) for simultaneously injection molding said preforms (36), when said preforms (36) are arranged, in a M x N matrix (M ≥ 2, N ≥ 2) having M rows extending parallel to a second direction which is perpendicular to said first direction (A) and N columns in each row;
    characterized in that
    • said first carrying path (200, 2000) includes carrying members (206) arranged in parallel to carry said one row of N preforms (36) at a time in a state of inversion through the heating station (30, 2200);
    • said injection mold (52) has upper and lower mold portions for simultaneousely injection molding said preforms (36) in a state of upright;
    • said injection molding station (22) further includes:
      • an upper mold clamping plate (50) on which said upper mold portion is mounted;
      • a lower mold clamping plate (46) on which said lower mold portion is mounted; and
      • a clamping plate driving mechanism which has four tie-bars (48) to move said upper mold clamping plate (50) in a vertical direction; and
    • said removing mechanism (102) of said first delivering section (24) includes:
      • at least one removing plate (106) which advances toward and retreat from said injections-molding station (22) to receive said preforms (36); and
      • a plurality of removing rails (134) which conducts said at least one removing plate (106) at its opposite ends into between said upper and lower mold clamping plates (46, 50);
    • wherein said removing rails (134) are fixedly mounted between said lower mold portion (46) and said four tie-bars (48), and extend from said injection molding station (22) toward said delivering section (24).
  2. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 1, wherein said at least one removing plate (106) includes cylindrical receiving members (112) for receiving said preforms (36) with the portion thereof to be held by holding members (140) being exposed.
  3. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 1 or 2, wherein said removing mechanism (102) in said first delivering section (24, 1000) includes M rows of said removing plates (106) and a row pitch changing mechanism (108) which increases a row pitch in M rows of said removing plates (106) when advancing and decreases the row pitch when retreating; and

       said lower mold clamping plate (46) includes removing rail support plates (132) for fixedly supporting said removing rails (134).
  4. The injection blow molding system as defined in any one of claims 1 to 3, wherein:
    • on said first carrying path (200, 2000), a cooling station (26) is located upstream of said heating station (30) in said first direction (A) to cool said preforms (36) from said first delivering section (24, 1000);
    • said first carrying path (200,2000) includes a plurality of rotation mechanisms (176, 204) for rotating said preforms (36) independently in said cooling station (26) and heating station (30), and also includes a non-rotation area (272) in which rotation of at least one row of N preforms (36) is stopped between said rotation mechanisms (176, 204); and
    • a gate cutting mechanism (170) for cutting gates of said at least one row of N preforms (36) is provided in said non-rotation area (272).
  5. The injection blow molding system as defined in any one of claims 1 to 4, wherein said at least one blow molding station (34) has a second endless carrying path (400); and

       a second delivering section (32) for delivering said heated preforms (36) to said second carrying path (400) is provided between said heating station (30) and said at least one blow molding station (34).
  6. The injection blow molding system according to claim 1, wherein:
    • a cooling station (26) is provided for cooling said preforms (36) while said preforms (36) being carried in said first direction (A);
    • said first delivering section (24, 1000) for receiving said preforms (36) from said injection molding station (22) delivers said preforms (36) to said cooling station (26);
    • said heating station (30) heats said preforms (36) cooled by said cooling station (26) while said preforms (36) being carried in said first direction (A);
    • a second delivering section (32) for receiving said preforms (36) from said heating station (30) and delivering said preforms (36) to said blow molding stations (34) is provided;
    • said first delivering section (24, 1000) has a removing mechanism (102) for removing said M × N matrix of said preforms (36) in a state of upright out of said injection molding station (22), and an inverting mechanism (104) for inverting said preforms (36) to deliver to said cooling station (26);
    • said cooling station (26) and said heating station (30) have said first carrying path (200, 2000) in common for intermittently carrying one row of N preforms (36) at a time in a state of inversion;
    • said second delivering section (32) has a transfer mechanism (502) for receiving said one row of N preforms heated by said heating station (30) from said first carrying path (200, 2000) to transfer to said blow molding stations (34) in a state of inversion; and
    • each of said blow molding stations (36) includes:
      • a second carrying path (400) having a substantially rectangular shape with two shorter sides and two longer sides;
      • a receiving section (402) located on one of said shorter sides in said second carrying path (400) for receiving said preforms (36) from said second delivering section (32) in a state of inversion;
      • a blow molding section (404) located on one of said longer sides in said second carrying path (400) for simultaneously stretch blow molding said preforms (36) received by said receiving section (402) into containers (428); and
      • a removing section (406) located on the other shorter side opposite to said receiving (402) for removing said containers (428) molded by said blow molding section (404).
  7. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 6, wherein said removing mechanism (102) in said first delivery section (24, 1000) has a row pitch changing mechanism (108) for changing a pitch between said M rows; and

       said inverting mechanism (104) in said first delivery section (24, 1000) has a column pitch changing mechanism (146) for changing a pitch between said N columns of preforms (36) removed by said removing mechanism (102).
  8. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 6 or 7, wherein said cooling station (26) includes a cooling fan (172) disposed along said first carrying path (200, 2000) and a first rotation mechanism (176) for rotating said preforms (36) at a position opposed to said cooling fan (172); and

       said heating station (30) includes a heating box (202) disposed along said first carrying path (200, 2000) and a second rotation mechanism (204) for rotating said preforms (36) within said heating box (202).
  9. The injection blow molding system according to claim 1, wherein:
    • said delivering section (24, 1000) includes:
      • M rows of removing plates (106) each of which moves between said upper and lower mold portions in said injection molding station (22) to receive N preforms (36); and
      • a removing mechanism (102) which makes said M rows of removing plates (106) advance toward and retreat from said injection molding station (22) to remove said M × N preforms (36), and which has a pitch changing mechanism (108) for increasing a row pitch in said M rows of removing plates (106) when advancing and for decreasing said row pitch when retreating.
  10. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 9, wherein said delivery section (24, 1000) includes holding members (140) for holding said M×N preforms (36) removed by said removing mechanism (102) and an inverting mechanism (104) for inverting said preforms (36) to deliver to said carrying members (206).
  11. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 10, wherein said inverting mechanism (104) includes a column pitch changing mechanism (146) for changing a column pitch between said N columns of preforms (36) removed by said removing mechanism (102).
  12. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 11, wherein said column pitch changing mechanism (146) changes the column pitch on the way of the inverting step in said inverting mechanism (104).
  13. The injection blow molding system as defined in any one of claims 9 to 12, wherein each of said M rows of the removing plates (106) includes N cylindrical receiving members (112) for receiving N preforms (36) with the portion thereof to be held by said holding members (140) being exposed;

       and said inverting mechanism (104) includes an elevator mechanism (148) for moving said holding members (140) to one of a first level at which said preforms (36) on said receiving members (112) are held by said holding members (140), a second level at which said preforms (36) are removed out of said receiving members (112) by said holding members (140), a third level at which said holding members (140) are placed in their stand-by position after said preforms (36) have been inverted and a fourth level at which said preforms (36) are delivered to said first carrying path (200, 2000) by said holding members (140); and

       said elevator mechanism (148) is adapted to perform the elevating operation between said second and third levels on the way of the inverting step of said inverting mechanism (104).
  14. The injection blow molding system as defined in any one of claims 9 to 13 wherein said first carrying path (200, 2000) includes a mechanism (180) for positioning said carrying members (206) which receive said preforms (36) from said inverting mechanism (104).
  15. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 9, further comprising a cooling station (26) located upstream of said heating station (30) in said first direction (A) to cool one row of N preforms (36) at a time.
  16. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 15, wherein said first carrying path (200, 2000) includes a primary carrying path (2110) on which said cooling station (26) is disposed, a secondary carrying path (2210) on which said heating station (30) is disposed and an intermediate delivery section (2300) for delivering said one row of N preforms (36) at a time from said primary carrying path (2110) to said secondary carrying path (2210).
  17. The injection blow molding system as defined in claim 16, wherein:
    • said primary carrying path (2110) carries said one row of N preforms (36) at a time in a state of upright;
    • said secondary carrying path (2210) carries said one row of N preforms (36) at a time in a state of inversion; and
    • said intermediate delivery section (2300) inverts said preforms (36) from said primary carrying path (2110) and delivers inverted preforms (36) to said secondary carrying path (2210).
  18. An injection blow molding method comprising:
    • an injection molding step for simultaneously injection molding preforms (36) in an injection molding station (22);
    • a removing step for removing said preforms (36) from said injection molding station (22);
    • a first delivering step for delivering said removed preforms (36) to a first carrying path (200, 2000);
    • a carrying step for carrying said preforms (36) along said first carrying path (200, 2000) in a first direction (A);
    • a heating step for heating said preforms (36);
    • a second delivering step for delivering said heated preforms (36) to a blow molding station (34); and
    • a blow molding step in said blow molding station (34) for stretch blow molding said delivered preforms (36) into containers (438);
    • wherein in said injection molding step, said preforms (36) are simultaneously injection-molded when said preforms (36) are arranged in a M x N (M 2 2, N 2 2) matrix having M-rows extending parallel to a second direction which is perpendicular to said first direction (A) and N columns in each row;
       characterized in that,
    • in said injection molding step the preforms (36) are
    • injection molded in a state of upright;
    • in said injection molding step the injection molded preforms (36) are vertically positioned for the removing step;
    • in said removing step at least one row of N preforms (36) is removed in said first direction (A) by at least one removing plate (106);
    • in said carrying step one row of N preforms (36) is carried along said first carrying path (200, 2000) in a state of inversion by carrying members (206) arranged in parallel; and
    • the preforms (36) are carried along said first carrying path (200, 2000) during the heating step.
  19. The injection blow molding method according to claim 18 further comprises

       a cooling step for cooling said delivered preforms (36) while being carryied in said first direction in a state of inversion;

    wherein:
    • in said removing step, a row pitch in said M rows is changed while said preforms (36) are being removed;
    • in said first delivering step, a column pitch of said N columns is changed while said preforms (36) are being inverted; and
    • in said cooling and heating steps, said one row of N preforms (36) is carried at a time in said first direction (A).
  20. The injection blow molding method as defined in claim 18 or 19, wherein:
    • said heating step includes a step of simultaneously heating one row of N/2 preforms (36) by each of two heating stations (30, 2200) when one row of N preforms (36) is carried at a time; and
    • said blow molding step includes a step of simultaneously stretch blow molding said one row of N/2 preforms (36) by each of two blow molding stations (34) which correspond to said two heating stations (30, 2200).
Anspruch[fr]
  1. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage, comprenant :
    • un poste (22) de moulage par injection pour le moulage par injection de préformes (36) ;
    • un premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) pour transporter lesdites préformes (36) dans une première direction (A) ;
    • une première section distributrice (24, 1000) qui comprend un mécanisme d'enlèvement (102, 1001) pour enlever lesdites préformes (36) dudit poste (22) de moulage par injection et un mécanisme distributeur (1002) pour livrer lesdites préformes enlevées (36) audit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) ;
    • un poste de chauffage (30, 2200) situé sur ledit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) pour chauffer lesdites préformes transportées (36) à une température égale ou supérieure à une température d'étirage appropriée ; et
    • au moins un poste (34) de moulage par soufflage pour le moulage par soufflage avec étirage desdites préformes (36) chauffées par ledit poste de chauffage (30, 2200) en récipients (428);
    • dans lequel ledit poste (22) de moulage par injection comprend un moule pour injection (52) pour mouler simultanément par injection lesdites préformes (36), lorsque lesdites préformes (36) sont disposées selon une matrice M x N (M ≥ 2, N ≥ 2) ayant M rangées orientées patallèlement à une seconde direction qui est perpendiculaire à ladite première direction (A) et N colonnes dans chaque rangée ;
       caractérisé en ce que
    • ledit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) comporte des éléments transporteurs (206) disposés parallèlement pour transporter ladite une rangée de N préformes (36) à la fois dans un état d'inversion, à travers ledit poste de chauffage (30, 2200);
    • ledit moule (52) pour injection a des portions de moule supérieure et inférieure pour mouler simultanément par injection lesdites préformes (36) dans un état dressé ;
    • ledit poste (22) de moulage par injection comprend de plus
      • une plaque supérieure (50) de serrage du moule sur laquelle est montée ladite portion supérieure du moule ;
      • une plaque inférieure (46) de serrage du moule sur laquelle est montée ladite portion inférieure du moule ; et
      • un mécanisme d'entraînement de plaque de serrage qui a quatre tiges de raccordement (48) pour déplacer ladite plaque supérieure (50) de serrage du moule dans une direction verticale ; et
    • ledit mécanisme d'enlèvement (102) de ladite première section distributrice (24) comprend :
      • au moins une plaque d'enlèvement (106) qui avance vers, et s'éloigne dudit poste (22) de moulage par injection pour recevoir lesdites préformes (36) ; et
      • une pluralité de rails d'enlèvement (134) qui conduisent ladite au moins une plaque d'enlèvement (106) jusqu'à ses extrémités opposées placées entre lesdites plaques supérieure et inférieure (46, 50) de serrage du moule ;
    • dans lequel lesdits rails d'enlèvement (134) sont montés de manière fixe entre ladite portion inférieure (46) du moule et lesdites quatre tiges de raccordement (48), et s'étendent à partir dudit poste (22) de moulage par injection vers ladite section distributrice (24).
  2. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 1, dans lequel au moins une plaque d'enlèvement (106) comporte des éléments récepteurs cylindriques (112) destinés à recevoir lesdites préformes (36), la portion de celles-ci devant être tenue par des éléments de serrage (140) étant exposée.
  3. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel ledit mécanisme d'enlèvement (102) dans ladite première section distributrice (24, 1000) comprend M rangées de dites plaques d'enlèvement (106) et un mécanisme (108) de changement d'espacements des rangées qui augmente un espacement des rangées dans M rangées desdites plaques d'enlèvement (106) lors de l'avancée et diminue l'espacement des rangées lors du recul ; et

       ladite plaque inférieure (46) de serrage du moule comprend des plaques (132) de support de rails d'enlèvement destinées à supporter de manière fixe lesdits rails d'enlèvement (134).
  4. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon l'une quelconque des Revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel :
    • sur ledit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000), un poste de refroidissement (26) est situé en amont dudit poste de chauffage (30) dans ladite première direction (A) pour refroidir lesdites préformes (36) venant de ladite première section distributrice (24, 1000) ;
    • ledit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) comprend une pluralité de mécanismes de rotation (176, 204) pour entraîner en rotation lesdites préformes (36) de manière indépendante dans ledit poste de refroidissement (26) et ledit poste de chauffage (30), et comprend aussi une zone de non rotation (272) dans laquelle la rotation d'au moins une rangée de N préformes (36) est interrompue entre lesdits mécanismes de rotation (176, 204) ; et
    • un mécanisme (170) coupe-entrée pour couper les entrées de ladite au moins une rangée de N préformes (36) est prévu dans ladite zone de non rotation (272).
  5. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon l'une quelconque des Revendications 1 à 4, dans lequel ledit au moins un poste (34) de moulage par soufflage a un second circuit (400) de transport sans fin ; et

       une seconde section distributrice (32) pour livrer lesdites préformes chauffées (36) audit second circuit de transport (400) est prévue entre ledit poste de chauffage (30) et ledit au moins un poste (34) de moulage par soufflage.
  6. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 1, dans lequel
    • un poste de refroidissement (26) est prévu pour refroidir lesdites préformes (36) pendant que lesdites préformes (36) sont transportées dans ladite première direction (A) ;
    • ladite première section distributrice (24, 1000) pour recevoir lesdites préformes (36) dudit poste (22) de moulage par injection délivre lesdites préformes (36) audit poste de refroidissement (26) ;
    • ledit poste de chauffage (30) chauffe lesdites préformes (36) refroidies par ledit poste de refroidissement (26) pendant que lesdites préformes (36) sont transportées dans ladite première direction (A) ;
    • une seconde section distributrice (32) pour recevoir lesdites préformes (36) dudit poste de chauffage (30) et livrer lesdites préformes (36) auxdits postes (34) de moulage par soufflage est prévue ;
    • ladite première section distributrice (24, 1000) a un mécanisme d'enlèvement (102) pour enlever ladite M x N matrice de dites préformes (36) dans un état dressé hors du poste (22) de moulage par injection, et un mécanisme inverseur (104) pour inverser lesdites préformes (36) à livrer audit poste de refroidissement (26) ;
    • ledit poste de refroidissement (26) et ledit poste de chauffage (30) ont ledit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) en commun pour transporter de manière intermittente une rangée de N préformes (36) à la fois dans un état d'inversion ;
    • ladite seconde section distributrice (32) a un mécanisme de transfert (502) pour recevoir ladite une rangée de N préformes chauffées par ledit poste de chauffage (30) venant dudit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) à transférer auxdits postes (34) de moulage par soufflage dans un état d'inversion ; et
    • chacun desdits postes (36) de moulage par soufflage comprend :
      • un second circuit de transport (400) ayant une forme essentiellement rectangulaire avec deux côtés plus courts et deux côtés plus longs ;
      • une section réceptrice (402) située sur l'un desdits côtés plus courts dans ledit second circuit de transport (400) pour recevoir lesdites préformes (36) de ladite seconde section distributrice (32) dans un état d'inversion ;
      • une section (404) de moulage par soufflage située sur l'un des côtés plus longs dans ledit second circuit de transport (400) pour le moulage par soufflage avec étirage, simultanément, desdites préformes (36) reçues par ladite section réceptrice (402) en récipients (428); et
      • une section d'enlèvement (406) située sur l'autre côté plus court opposé à ladite section réceptrice (402) pour enlever lesdits récipients (428) moulés par ladite section (404) de moulage par soufflage.
  7. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 6, dans lequel ledit mécanisme d'enlèvement (102) dans ladite première section distributrice (24, 1000) a un mécanisme (108) de changement d'espacement des rangées pour changer un espacement entre lesdites M rangées ; et

       ledit mécanisme inverseur (104) dans ladite première section distributrice (24, 1000) a un mécanisme (146) de changement d'espacement des colonnes pour changer un espacement entre lesdites N colonnes de préformes (36) enlevées par ledit mécanisme d'enlèvement (102).
  8. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 6 ou 7, dans lequel ledit poste de refroidissement (26) comprend un ventilateur de refroidissement (172) disposé le long dudit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) et un premier mécanisme de rotation (176) pour entraîner en rotation lesdites préformes (36) dans une position opposée audit ventilateur de refroidissement (172) ; et

       ledit poste de chauffage (30) comprend une boîte chauffante (202) disposée le long dudit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) et un second mécanisme de rotation (204) pour entraîner en rotation lesdites préformes (36) dans ladite boîte chauffante (202).
  9. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 1, dans lequel :
    • ladite section distributrice (24, 1000) comprend :
      • M rangées de plaques d'enlèvement (106), chacune se déplaçant entre lesdites portions de moule supérieure et inférieure dans ledit poste (22) de moulage par injection pour recevoir N préformes (36) ; et
      • un mécanisme d'enlèvement (102) qui fait s'avancer et se reculer lesdites M rangées de plaques d'enlèvement (106) par rapport audit poste (22) de moulage par injection pour enlever lesdites M x N préformes (36), et qui a un mécanisme (108) de changement d'espacement pour augmenter un espacement des rangées daps lesdites M rangées des plaques d'enlèvement (106) lors de l'avancée et pour diminuer ledit espacement des rangées lors du recul.
  10. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 9, dans lequel ladite section distributrice (24, 1000) comprend des éléments de serrage (140) pour tenir lesdites M x N préformes (36) enlevées par ledit mécanisme d'enlèvement (102) et un mécanisme inverseur (104) pour inverser lesdites préformes (36) à livrer auxdits éléments transporteurs (206).
  11. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 10, dans lequel ledit mécanisme inverseur (104) comprend un mécanisme (146) de changement d'espacement des colonnes pour changer un espacement des colonnes entre lesdites N colonnes de préformes (36) enlevées par ledit mécanisme d'enlèvement (102).
  12. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 11, dans lequel ledit mécanisme (146) de changement d'espacement des colonnes change l'espacement des colonnes en cours d'étape d'inversion dans ledit mécanisme inverseur (104).
  13. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon l'une quelconque des Revendications 9 à 12, dans lequel chacune desdites M rangées des plaques d'enlèvement (106) comprend N éléments récepteurs cylindriques (112) pour recevoir N préformes (36), la portion de celles-ci devant être tenue par lesdits éléments de serrage (140) étant exposée ;

       et ledit mécanisme inverseur (104) comprend un mécanisme élévateur (148) pour déplacer lesdits éléments de serrage (140) jusqu'à l'un d'un premier niveau auquel lesdites préformes (36) sur lesdits éléments récepteurs (112) sont tenus par lesdits éléments de serrage (140), d'un second niveau auquel lesdites préformes (36) sont retirées desdits éléments récepteurs (112) par lesdits éléments de serrage (140), d'un troisième niveau auquel lesdits éléments de serrage (140) sont placés dans leur position d'attente après que lesdites préformes (36) aient été inversées et d'un quatrième niveau auquel lesdites préformes (36) sont livrées audit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) par lesdits éléments de serrage (140); et

       ledit mécanisme élévateur (148) est adapté pour réaliser l'opération de levage entre lesdits second et troisième niveaux au cours de l'étape d'inversion dudit mécanisme inverseur (104).
  14. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon l'une quelconque des Revendications 9 à 13, dans lequel ledit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) comprend un mécanisme (180) pour le positionnement desdits éléments transporteurs (206) qui reçoivent lesdites préformes (36) dudit mécanisme inverseur (104).
  15. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 9, comprenant de plus un poste de refroidissement (26) situé en amont dudit poste de chauffage (30) dans ladite première direction (A) pour refroidir une rangée de N préformes (36) à la fois.
  16. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 15, dans lequel ledit premier trajet de transport (200, 2000) comprend un circuit de transport primaire (2110) sur lequel se trouve ledit poste de refroidissement (26), un circuit de transport secondaire (2210) sur lequel se trouve ledit poste de chauffage (30) et une section distributrice intermédiaire (2300) pour livrer ladite une rangée de N préformes (36) à la fois dudit circuit de transport primaire (2110) audit circuit de transport secondaire (2210).
  17. Système de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 16, dans lequel :
    • ledit circuit de transport primaire (2110) transporte ladite une rangée de N préformes (36) à la fois dans un état dressé ;
    • ledit circuit de transport secondaire (2210) transporte ladite une rangée de N préformes (36) à la fois dans un état inversé ; et
    • ladite section distributrice intermédiaire (2300) inverse lesdites préformes (36) venant dudit circuit de transport primaire (2110) et livre les préformes inversées (36) audit circuit de transport secondaire (2210).
  18. Procédé de moulage par injection-soufflage comprenant :
    • une étape de moulage par injection pour mouler simultanément par injection des préformes (36) dans un poste (22) de moulage par injection ;
    • une étape d'enlèvement pour enlever lesdites préformes (36) dudit poste (22) de moulage par injection ;
    • une première étape distributrice pour livrer lesdites préformes enlevées (36) à un premier circuit de transport (200, 2000);
    • une étape de transport pour transporter lesdites préformes (36) le long dudit premier trajet de transport (200, 2000) dans une première direction (A) ;
    • une étape de chauffage pour chauffer lesdites préformes (36) ;
    • une seconde étape distributrice pour livrer lesdites préformes chauffées (36) à un poste (34) de moulage par soufflage ; et
    • une étape de moulage par soufflage dans ledit poste (34) de moulage par soufflage pour le moulage-soufflage-étirage desdites préformes délivrées (36) en récipients (438) ;
    • dans lequel dans ladite étape de moulage par injection, lesdites gréformes (36) sont simultanément moulées par injection quand lesdites préformes (36) sont disposées selon une matrice M x N (M ≥ 2, N ≥ 2) ayant M rangées orientées parallèlement à une seconde direction qui est perpendiculaire à ladite première direction (A) et N colonnes dans chaque rangée ;
       caractérisé en ce que
    • dans ladite étape de moulage par injection, les préformes (36) sont moulées par injection dans un état dressé ;
    • dans ladite étape de moulage par injection, les préformes (36) moulées par injection sont placées verticalement pour l'étape d'enlèvement ;
    • dans ladite étape d'enlèvement, au moins une rangée de N préformes (36) est enlevée dans ladite première direction (A) par au moins une plaque d'enlèvement (106) ;
    • dans ladite étape de transport, une rangée de N préformes (36) est transportée le long dudit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) dans un état d'inversion par des éléments transporteurs (206) disposés parallèlement ; et
    • les préformes (36) sont transportées le long dudit premier circuit de transport (200, 2000) pendant l'étape de chauffage.
  19. Procédé de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 18 comprenant de plus
    • une étape de refroidissement pour refroidir lesdites préformes délivrées (36) pendant qu'elles sont transportées dans ladite première direction dans un état d'inversion ;
       dans lequel :
    • dans ladite étape d'enlèvement, un espacement des rangées dans lesdites M rangées est modifié pendant que lesdites préformes (36) sont enlevées ;
    • dans ladite première étape distributrice, un espacement des colonnes dans lesdites N colonnes est modifié pendant que lesdites préformes (36) sont inversées ; et
    • dans lesdites étapes de refroidissement et de chauffage, ladite une rangée de N préformes (36) est transportée à la fois dans ladite première direction (A).
  20. Procédé de moulage par injection-soufflage selon la Revendication 18 ou 19, dans lequel :
    • ladite étape de chauffage comprend une étape de chauffage simultané d'une rangée de N/2 préformes (36) par chacun de deux postes de chauffage (30, 2200) lorsqu'une rangée de N préformes (36) est transportée à la fois ; et
    • ladite étape de moulage par soufflage comprend une étape de moulage par soufflage avec étirage, simultanément, de ladite une rangée de N/2 préformes (36) par chacun de deux postes (34) de moulage par soufflage qui correspondent auxdits deux postes de chauffage (30, 2200).






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