Quick Question Monday : What is Shuttle Blow Molding?

Shuttle Blow Molding machines are used for the Extrusion Blow Molding (EBM) process. Shuttle machines are either single-sided or dual-sided machines, and can be manufactured to produce one- to six-layer containers for cosmetic, pharmaceutical, food, and chemical applications.

The Shuttle Production Process

  1. The shuttle is brought under the flowhead, where a parison of plastic material is being constantly extruded. The mold closes and “shuttles” away from the flowhead
  2. The mold is then brought to the blow pins, which are then forced downward into the molds, helping to "calibrate" the necks while air is forced into the cavity to blow the container. The shuttle motion allows the bottles to be blown and cooled to the side, without interfering with the parisons, which are continually extruding from the flowhead
  3. In a dual-sided shuttle machine, the second shuttle mold is brought under the flowhead while the first set is being blown and cooled, doubling the machine’s output

The Shuttle Mold

Shuttle Mold

Shuttle machines may extrude single or multiple parisons, and are characterized by the number of parisons and the horizontal spacing between the parisons. For example, a "4x100" shuttle extrudes four parisons, spaced 100 mm between the centers. This would require a platen (for attaching the molds) greater in size than 400 mm, to accommodate the required mold width. The horizontal or angled shuttling distance is thus greater than 400 mm for a 4x100 shuttle machine. In general, shuttle machines up to 2x100 mm spacing are considered small machines; shuttles up to 6x100 mm spacing are considered mid-sized machines; shuttles larger than this are typically referred to as "long-stroke" machines.

Typically used for lower volume output, these machines generally have two to four cavities per mold, positioned horizontally next to each other. Key advantages of the shuttle blow molding process includes:

  • Low mold cost for low volume output
  • Capable of producing high-quality "calibrated neck" finish with blow pins
  • In-machine trimming - finished bottles exit the machine
  • Capable of producing handleware bottles
  • Capable of producing multi-layer bottles (up to 6 layers)


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