(19)
(11)EP 2 711 152 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
13.05.2015 Bulletin 2015/20

(21)Application number: 13305142.5

(22)Date of filing:  06.02.2013
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B29B 11/14(2006.01)
B65D 1/02(2006.01)
B29C 49/54(2006.01)
B65D 79/00(2006.01)

(54)

Method for blow molding a hot-fill container with increased stretch ratios

Verfahren zum Blasformen eines Heißfüllungsbehälters mit erhöhten Streckungsverhältnissen

Procédé de soufflage d'un récipient remplissable à chaud, à taux d'étirage accrus


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
26.03.2014 Bulletin 2014/13

(73)Proprietor: SIDEL PARTICIPATIONS
76930 Octeville-sur-Mer (FR)

(72)Inventors:
  • Godet, Florian
    76930 Octeville-sur-Mer (FR)
  • Bunel, Christophe
    76930 Octeville-sur-Mer (FR)

(74)Representative: Louiset, Raphael 
Dejade & Biset 35, rue de Châteaudun
75009 Paris
75009 Paris (FR)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-95/16554
US-A1- 2009 223 920
  
  • DATABASE WPI Week 200864 Thomson Scientific, London, GB; AN 2008-K77336 XP002694696, -& JP 2008 178994 A (HOKKAI CAN CO LTD) 7 August 2008 (2008-08-07)
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The invention generally relates to the manufacturing of containers, such as bottles, which are produced by blow molding or stretch-blow molding from preforms made of plastic (mostly thermoplastic, e.g. PET) material. More specifically, the invention relates to the manufacturing of hot-fill containers, i.e. containers ready to be filled by liquids at a high temperature (generally higher than the glass transition temperature of the material in which the container is made).

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0002] A conventional preform, which is generally injected molded but might also be compression molded, is comprised of an open cylindrical threaded upper portion or neck, which terminates at a lower end in an annular protrusion, forming a support collar (used to carry the perform and the container at different steps of the manufacturing and packaging processes), a wall portion of generally cylindrical shape which extends below the support collar, and a closed rounded bottom portion which extends below the wall portion.

[0003] During a conventional blow molding process, the preform undergoes both an axial (or length) stretch and a radial (or hoop) stretch to form the container. The combined length and hoop stretch provides molecular bi-orientation to the material, whereby the final container has good structural rigidity, generally sufficient to resist mechanical stresses due to the hydrostatic pressure of the liquid therein.

[0004] However, bi-orientation induces residual stresses in the material. Such residual stresses are released during hot-filling (particularly with a liquid having a temperature higher than the glass transition temperature of the material), causing a deformation of the container that could make it unsuitable for use - and hence for sale.

[0005] To decrease deformation of the container during hot-filling, it is known to run the blow molding within a mold provided with sidewalls and a mold base, the sidewalls being heated at a predetermined temperature, and to complete the blowing through a thermal treatment called heat set, by which the container is held in contact with the sidewalls at a predetermined temperature between 80°C and 180°C for a predetermined time (generally several seconds).

[0006] Generally, two sidewalls are present. They are usually named "half-molds". They can be moved away from one another and from the mold base for allowing either the introduction of a preform or the removal of the finished container. The sidewalls are placed in close contact together and with the mold base during the blow molding step.

[0007] However, heat setting solves only part of the problems of deformation of a hot-fill container. Indeed, while cooling, the liquid and the air above the liquid in the capped container undergo a decrease in volume that tends to make the container retract.

[0008] Several solutions have been considered for decreasing the visible effects of such retraction. These solutions generally concern the shape of the container.

[0009] For example, it has been proposed to equip the body of the container with deformable side panels that bend inwards under the effect of the retraction and bend back outwards when the container is opened. Such containers must be handled with care by the user because of the flexibility of the body, which may result in accidental spraying.

[0010] It has also been proposed to provide the container with a base portion capable of withstanding the various stresses and strains applied to the container, see e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 6,896,147 (assigned to Graham).

[0011] More recently, it has been proposed to give the bottom of the container a special shape capable of absorbing at least part of the deformation due to retraction whereas the body of the container is provided with a rigid (i.e. resistant to hot-fill deformation) structure, see e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 7,451,886 (assigned to Amcor).

[0012] Deformable bottoms take advantage over deformable side panels in that from the user's point of view the container feels rigid, whereby the risk of spraying during handling is considerably lowered. However, the amount of vacuum absorbed by deformation of the deformable bottom may be insufficient and result in a deformation of the body which may take an oval shape (such a well-known deformation is called "ovalization" by the skilled technicians).

[0013] U.S. Pat. Appl. No. 2008/0047964 (Denner et al, assigned to CO2PAC) discloses a container comprising a pressure panel located in the bottom portion of the container. The pressure panel is movable between an outwardly-inclined position and an inwardly-inclined position to compensate for a change of pressure inside the container. In order to alleviate all or a portion of the vacuum forces within the container, the pressure panel is moved from the outwardly-inclined position by a mechanical pusher in order to force the pressure panel into the inwardly-inclined position. The inversion of the pressure panel from the outwardly-inclined position to the inwardly-inclined position reduces the internal volume of the container.

[0014] Denner also provides an exemplary method of blow molding such a plastic container, which includes enclosing a softened polymer material such as PET within a blow mold having side wall portions and a base mold portion movable with respect of the side mold portions in the vertical direction between a retracted position and an extended position. The base mold portion is displaced upwardly into the mold cavity to form a transverse pressure panel deeply set within the base portion of the container.

[0015] Although Denner provides a solution which in theory alleviates the drawbacks of previous solutions with deformable bottoms in that it maximizes the amount of vacuum compensation, Denner fails to disclose the whole process allowing to form the target container, despite the mere description of the deep setting of the pressure panel by means of a movable base mold portion, the use of which, as may be noted, is already known, see e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 4,035,455 (Rosenkranz et al). In particular, Denner fails to point out specific structural features of the preform and specific features of the process, which should be used to allow the target container to be correctly formed, with a proper distribution of the material throughout the container. Further methods of manufacturing not-fill containers are disclosed in US 2009 223920 and JP 2008 178994.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0016] It is a main purpose of the present invention to alleviate the hereabove mentioned drawbacks of the prior art.

[0017] It is an object of the invention to propose a full method of manufacturing a hot-fill container provided with a high standing ring and a central outwardly-inclined invertible diaphragm.

[0018] It is another object of the invention to enhance performances of such a hot-fill container.

[0019] It is yet another object of the invention to increase stability of such a hot-fill container while facilitating inversion of the invertible diaphragm.

[0020] It is therefore provided a method of manufacturing a hot-fill container from a plastic preform by means of blow molding said preform, wherein said container is provided with a base including a high standing ring and a central outwardly-inclined invertible diaphragm, wherein said preform has an open neck, a wall and a closed bottom, said method comprising the steps of:
  • heating the preform at a temperature greater than the glass transition temperature of the plastic;
  • introducing the such heated preform within a mold provided with a mold base and sidewalls, which sidewalls are heated at a predetermined temperature;
  • blow molding the preform to form the container for subsequent hot-fill applications;
wherein:
  • the wall of said preform has a main segment of substantially cylindrical shape and a lower end segment of increased thickness adjacent the bottom, whereby said lower end segment is stretched to form the high standing ring of the container, and the bottom has a thickness lower than the lower end segment whereby the bottom is stretched to form the invertible diaphragm of the container,
  • the preform is subjected to a length stretch ratio comprised between 3.4 and 3.9, and a hoop stretch ratio comprised between 3.5 and 3.9.


[0021] According to various embodiments, taken either separately or in combination:
  • the stretch ratio is comprised between 3.6 and 3.8;
  • the hoop stretch ratio is comprised between 3.7 and 3.8;
  • the lower end segment of the preform has a wall thickness of about 10% greater than a wall thickness of the main segment;
  • the bottom has a central region with a substantially constant wall thickness;
  • the central region has a wall thickness lower than 80% of the wall thickness in the lower end segment;
  • the central region has a wall thickness lower than 70% of the wall thickness in the lower end segment;
  • the central region has a wall thickness of about 65% of the wall thickness in the lower end segment;
  • preform is axially stretched by a stretch rod;
  • the preform is provided with a centering index capable of being received in a recess formed at a lower end tip of the stretch rod.


[0022] The above and other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the detailed description of preferred embodiments, considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0023] In the drawings:

FIG.1 is a realistic sectional view showing both a preform and a resulting hot-fill container formed therefrom;

FIG.2 is a realistic bottom perspective view showing the container of FIG.1;

FIG.3 is a realistic enlarged fragmentary sectional view showing a detail of the container of FIG.1 through the base of the container;

FIG.4 is a realistic enlarged sectional view showing the preform of FIG.1;

FIG.5 is a realistic enlarged fragmentary sectional view showing a detail of the preform of FIG.4, in the vicinity of a bottom of the preform;

FIG.6 is a realistic sectional view of a stretch blow molding unit including a mold with a movable base mold for manufacturing a hot-fill container, showing a preform from which the container is to be formed;

FIG.7 is a realistic sectional view of the stretch-blow molding unit of FIG.6, further showing the container formed therein from the preform (also shown in dotted line);

FIG.8 is a realistic perspective view of a base mold for a molding unit of FIG.6;

FIG.9 is a realistic enlarged fragmentary sectional view showing a detail of the base mold of FIG.8.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0024] FIG.1 illustrates a hot-fill container 1 suitable for being filled with a hot product (such as tea, fruit juice, or a sports drink).

[0025] The container 1 includes an upper open cylindrical threaded upper portion or neck 2, which terminates, at a lower end thereof, in a support collar 3 of greater diameter. Below the collar 3, the container 1 includes a shoulder 4 which is connected to the collar 3 through a cylindrical upper end portion of short length.

[0026] Below the shoulder 4, the container 1 has a wall portion 5 which is substantially cylindrical around a container main axis X. The wall portion 5 may, as depicted on FIG.1 and 2, include annular stiffening ribs 6 capable of resisting stresses which would otherwise tend to make the wall portion 5 oval when viewed in a horizontal section (such a deformation is standard and called ovalization).

[0027] The neck 2 has an outer diameter (taken between the threads) referenced D1 and the wall portion 5 has an overall diameter referenced D2.

[0028] At a lower end of the wall portion 5, the container 1 has a base 7 which closes the container 1 and allows the container 1 to be put on a planar surface such as a table.

[0029] The container base 7 includes a standing ring 8, which is a high standing ring as it will be explained later, and a central outwardly-inclined invertible diaphragm 9 which is capable of being forcedly (e.g. mechanically) pushed upwards (i.e. inwards with respect of the container 1) after the container 1 has been filled with a product, capped and cooled down, in order to compensate for the vacuum generated by the cooling of the product.

[0030] The standing ring 8 connects to the wall portion 5 of the container at a lower end portion 10 thereof, an inner portion 11 and a support flange 12. The inner portion 11 connects the support flange 12 to the diaphragm 9.

[0031] In a preferred embodiment, the lower end portion 10 of the wall portion 5 has, when viewed in transversal section as shown on FIG.3, the shape of an arch with a concavity turned inward with respect of the container 1, whereby the outer diameter, referenced D3, of the support flange 12 is smaller than the overall diameter D2 of the wall portion 5.

[0032] The inner portion 11 has the shape of a frustum of a cone and, when viewed in transversal section as shown on FIG.3, inclines inwardly with respect of the container 1, with a draft angle.

[0033] The cone shape of the inner portion 11 provides a vault stiffening and locking function to the diaphragm 9 in its inverted position (in dotted line on FIG.3), whereby the restriction of diameter of the inner portion 11 at its junction with the diaphragm 9 prevents the latter to articulate back from its inverted position with respect of the inner portion 11. As a result, re-inversion of the diaphragm 9 back to its initial position (in continuous line on FIG.3) under the mere hydrostatic pressure of the content of the container is prevented.

[0034] The inner portion 11 has an axial extension which is important with respect of the outer diameter D3 of the support flange, hence the expression "high standing ring" to name the standing ring 8. More specifically, the axial extension (or height) of the inner portion 11, with reference H4, is greater than 1/10 of the outer diameter D3 of the support flange 12, and preferably comprised between 1/10 and 1/5 of the outer diameter D3 of the support flange 12:



[0035] In one preferred embodiment, which corresponds to the illustration of FIG.3, the height H4 of the inner portion 11 is of about 1/6 of the outer diameter D3 of the support flange 12:



[0036] The support flange 12 has a radial extension or width, noted W4, which is small with respect of the outer diameter D3 of the support flange 12. More specifically, the width W4 of the support flange 12 is comprised between 5% and 10% - and preferably of about 6% - of the outer diameter D3 of the support flange 12:


and, preferably:



[0037] The width W4 of the support flange 12 is also preferably in a ratio with the height H4 of the inner portion 11 comprised between 1/5 and 1/3, and preferably of about 1/4:


and preferably:



[0038] In addition, in the just-blown non-filled configuration of the container 1 as depicted on FIG.1 and in continuous line on FIG.3, the support flange 12 does not quite extend in a plane perpendicular to the container axis but is in the shape of a frustum of a cone and shows an inward inclination A1 when shown in the transversal section of FIG.1, of a small angle with respect of a plane perpendicular to the container axis X. This provides a spring and absorbing effect under the hydrostatic pressure on the diaphragm 9 in its upwardly inverted position (in dotted lines on FIG.3), whereby pressure on the diaphragm 9 results in the support flange 12 pivoting and coming into abutment with a planar supporting surface instead of inversion of the diaphragm 9 back to its initial position (in continuous line on FIG.3).

[0039] In the just-blown non-filled configuration of the container 1 as depicted on FIG.1 and in continuous line on FIG.3, the invertible diaphragm 9 extends both inwards and downwards, from a outer edge 13 having a sharp apex where the diaphragm 9 connects to an upper end of the inner portion 11 of the high standing ring 8, down to a smoother inner edge 14 where the diaphragm 9 connects to a central upwardly protruding recess 15.

[0040] In a preferred embodiment, the radial extension or width, denoted W5, of the diaphragm 9, is comprised between 50% and 80% - and preferably of about 60% - of the outer radius, denoted R3, of the support flange 12 (where R3 is half D3):


and, preferably:



[0041] In addition, the axial extension, or height, denoted H5, of the diaphragm, is such that the inner edge of the diaphragm extends slightly above a standing plane perpendicular to the container axis X and defined by an outer edge of the high standing ring 8.

[0042] In other words, the height H5 of the diaphragm 9 is slightly lower than the height H4 of the high standing ring 8. In a preferred embodiment, the height H5 of the diaphragm 9 is greater than 85% - and preferably of about 90% - of the height H4 of the standing ring 8:


and, preferably:



[0043] On FIG.4 and FIG.5, there is shown in more details a preform 16 from which the container 1 disclosed hereinbefore is formed. The preform 16 is made by injection or compression molding from a single plastic material, preferably PET.

[0044] The preform 16 comprises the same neck 2 (which is not subjected to variations during the blowing of the container) as the container 1, which also terminates, at the lower end thereof, with the support collar 3.

[0045] Below the collar 3, the preform 16 has a body 17 which includes a wall 18 and, at a lower end of the wall 18, a closed bottom 19 which terminates the preform 16 at a lower side opposite the neck 2. The length of the preform body 17 (i.e. below the collar 3), is denoted L.

[0046] In its wall 18 and bottom 19, the preform 16 has an outer surface 20 and an inner surface 21.

[0047] As depicted on FIG.4, the wall 18 of the preform 16 is comprised of a main segment 22 of substantially cylindrical shape, an upper end segment 23 which terminates the main segment 22 upwardly and connects to the collar 3, and a lower end segment 24 which terminates the main segment 22 downwardly and connects to the bottom 19.

[0048] During the blow molding of the container 1, the main segment 22 forms the wall portion 5 of the container 1; the upper end segment 23 forms the shoulder 4 of the container 1; the lower end segment 24 forms the high standing ring 8 of the container 1; and the bottom 19 of the preform 16 forms the invertible diaphragm 9 and central protruding recess 15, as shown by the arrows on FIG.7.

[0049] The overall diameter of the main segment 22, taken at its junction with the upper end segment 23 is denoted D6.

[0050] In the depicted embodiment wherein the preform 16 corresponds to a container 1 of small capacity (i.e. less than 1 I, such as 0.5 or 0.6 I), the overall diameter D6 of the main segment 22 is smaller than the diameter D1 of the neck 2. In an alternate embodiment in which the preform corresponds to a container of greater capacity (i.e. more than 1 I, such as 1.5 I or 2 I), this relationship may be reversed.

[0051] In a preferred embodiment corresponding to the illustrated example, the upper end segment 23 has the shape of a horn and smoothly connects the main segment 22 at diameter D6 to the collar 3 at diameter D1. As may be seen on FIG.4, the wall thickness of the preform 16 in the upper end segment 23, as measured perpendicularly to the preform axis X (which is identical to the subsequent container axis X), increases from a value T1 immediately below the collar 3, where it corresponds to the wall thickness of the preform 16 in the neck 2 (excluding the thread), to a value T2 at the junction with the main segment, where T1 is lower than T2, and preferably lower than half T2:


and preferably:



[0052] In the illustrated preferred embodiment, the main segment 22 is in the shape of a frustum of a cone with a small draft angle B1 on the outer surface 20 and a small draft angle B2 on the inner surface 21, both angles B1 and B2 being lower than 2°, and preferably:



[0053] In a preferred embodiment, B1 is smaller than 1°, and preferably of about 0.6°. Also in a preferred embodiment, B2 is smaller than 1.5°, and preferably of about 1.3°.

[0054] In a preferred embodiment, the length, taken axially and denoted L1, of the main segment 22, is comprised between 60% and 70% - and preferably between 65% and 70% - of the length L of the preform 16:


and preferably:



[0055] Although the preform wall thickness may be substantially constant along the main segment 22, in a preferred embodiment, the preform wall thickness, as measured perpendicularly to the preform axis X, slightly (and linearly) increases from the value T2 at the junction of the upper end segment 23 and the main segment 22, to a value T3 at the junction of the main segment 22 and the lower end segment 24:



[0056] The material distribution in the upper end segment 23 and main segment 22 is calculated to provide substantially constant thickness of the container 1 in the shoulder 4 and wall portion 5.

[0057] The thickness increase in the upper end segment 23 allows for a sufficient thickness of the material in the container shoulder 4, since the material located immediately below the collar 3 is less stretched (mostly in the radial or hoop direction) than the material located at the junction between the upper end segment 23 and the main segment 22 of the preform 16. Similarly, the thickness increase in the main segment 22 allows for a sufficient thickness of the material in the wall portion 5 of the container 1, since the material located at the junction between the main segment 22 and the upper end segment is less stretched (both in the axial or length direction and in the radial or hoop direction).

[0058] In the illustrated preferred embodiment, the lower end segment 24 has an upper section 25 of increasing wall thickness, adjacent the main segment 22, and a lower section 26 of substantially constant wall thickness, adjacent the bottom 19. In the lower section 26, the preform 16 has a wall thickness, denoted T4, the value of which is therefore greater than the value T3 of the wall thickness of the preform 16 at the junction of the main segment 22 and lower end segment 24. In a preferred embodiment, T4 is 5% to 15% greater than T3, and for example of about 10% greater than T3:


and, preferably:


and, for example:



[0059] The increased wall thickness of the preform 16 in the lower end segment 24 allows for reinforcing the lower end portion 10 and the support flange 12, more specifically in the vicinity of the junction between the lower end portion 10 and the support flange 12, where rigidity is required on the one hand to facilitate the inversion process and, on the other hand, to provide good stability of the container 1 both during mass handling or storing operations, and during individual normal use of the container 1 where it is stored vertically standing on a planar surface such as a table or a refrigerator shelf.

[0060] In a preferred embodiment, the length, taken axially and denoted L2, of the lower end segment 24, is comprised between 30% and 40% - and preferably between 30% and 35% - of the length L1 of the main segment 22. In the preferred depicted example, L2 is about 33% of L1:


and preferably:


and, for example:



[0061] In a preferred embodiment illustrated on FIG.4, the preform 16 is provided with a rounded upstanding centering index 27 protruding inwardly from the inner surface 21 of the preform 16 in the axis X thereof.

[0062] Also in one embodiment illustrated on FIG.4, wherein the preform 16 is injection molded, the preform 16 is provided with a downwardly projecting central protrusion 28 which corresponds to the counter print of an injection gate formed in the mold in which the preform 16 was injection molded.

[0063] In a preferred embodiment, the bottom of the preform 16 has a central region 29 in the form of a spherical dome, the center C of curvature of which is located on the preform axis X.

[0064] In the central region 29, the outer surface 20 and the inner surface 21 of the preform 16 are preferably both spherical with common center of curvature C.

[0065] In consequence, in the central region 29 (apart from the centering index and protrusion), the preform 16 has a wall thickness, denoted T5, as taken radially from the center C of curvature, which is substantially constant.

[0066] In the depicted example, the bottom of the preform 16 is also provided with a peripheral region 30 which is located below the lower end segment 24 and makes junction with the central region 29. The peripheral region 30 is of decreasing wall thickness as taken radially from the center C of curvature of the central region 29, such that the wall thickness T5 of the preform 16 in the central region 29 of the bottom 19 is smaller than the wall thickness T4 of the lower end segment 24.

[0067] In a preferred embodiment, the wall thickness T5 of the preform 16 in the central region 29 is comprised between 50% and 80% (and preferably lower than 70%, and for example of about 65%) of the wall thickness T4 of the lower end segment 24:


preferably:


and, for example:



[0068] The decreased wall thickness of the peripheral region 30, and the comparatively smaller (and constant) wall thickness in the central region 29 of the preform bottom 19 allows for a better printing of the invertible diaphragm 9, and a reduced thickness of the material in the invertible diaphragm 9, thereby facilitating inversion thereof, as will be disclosed hereinafter.

[0069] The manufacturing of the hot-fill container 1 from the preform 16 is achieved through a blow molding unit 31 including a blow mold 32 and a stretch rod 33, as depicted on FIG.6 and FIG.7.

[0070] The blow mold 32 has sidewalls 34A, 34B, including heating means, not illustrated (such as holes for the circulation of a heating fluid such as hot water or hot oil, or electric radiators received within the sidewalls 34A, 34B), for heating the sidewalls 34A, 34B at a predetermined temperature much greater than the average environment temperature and which, in a preferred embodiment, is of about 80-180°C.

[0071] The sidewalls 34A, 34B together define at least part of a molding cavity 35 for receiving the preform 16 and form a counter print of the wall portion 5, including the lower end portion 10 and shoulder 4 of the container 1.

[0072] The blow mold 32 also has a mold base 36, which has an upper surface 37 forming a counter print of the container base 7 including the support flange 12, the inner portion 11, the diaphragm 9 and the central protruding recess 15. The sidewalls 34A, 34B, together with the mold base 36, define the whole molding cavity 35 of the container 1.

[0073] The mold base 36 is movable with respect of the sidewalls 34A, 34B between a retracted position (FIG.6) in which the upper surface 37 extends below the container base 7 to be blow molded, and a raised position (FIG.7) in which the upper surface 37 closes the cavity 35 and extends at the exact place of the container base 7 to be blow molded.

[0074] This provides an over stretching of the material during the blow molding, whereby the material of the preform 16 is first stretched beyond the final position of the container base 7, in the retracted position of the mold base 36, and then the mold base 36 is moved to its raised position in order to push the stretched material up to form the final shape of the container base 7.

[0075] Such a process allows for a better printing quality, a better material thickness, and hence a better stiffness from the lower end portion 10 to the inner portion 11.

[0076] During the stretch blow molding of the container 1, the centering index 27 is received within a corresponding recess 38 formed axially at a lower end tip of a stretch rod 33. This ensures a proper centering of the preform 16 until it reaches the mold base 36.

[0077] By the end of the blow molding of the container 1, the central outward protrusion 28 is received within a central recess 39 formed axially in a mold base 36. This ensures a proper centering of the container base 7 during the pushing up thereof, through the displacement of the mold base 36 from its retracted position to its raised position.

[0078] During the blow molding of the container 1, the preform 16 is subjected to a length stretch ratio comprised between 3.4 and 3.9, and a hoop stretch ratio comprised between 3.5 and 3.9.

[0079] The length stretch ratio is the ratio between the developed length of an average line 40 between the outer surface 20 and the inner surface 21 of the preform 16 taken along the body 17, i.e. from immediately below the collar 3 to the center of the bottom 19, in an axial sectional plane as depicted on FIG.1, and the developed length of the container 1 taken from immediately below the collar 3 to the center of the base 7, in a same axial sectional plane as depicted on FIG.1.

[0080] The hoop stretch ratio is the ratio between the average diameter D7 of the main segment 22 (i.e. at about half of the length thereof), taken at the average line 40) and the overall diameter D2 of the wall portion 5 of the container 1.

[0081] In a preferred embodiment, the length stretch ratio is comprised between 3.6 and 3.8. Also in a preferred embodiment, the hoop stretch ratio is comprised between 3.7 and 3.8.

[0082] Such stretch ratios, combined with the material distribution disclosed hereinbefore, allows for a better printing of the container wall portion 5 and base during the blow molding. More specifically, this facilitates the printing of stiffening ribs 6 on the wall portion 5 of the container 1, which provide rigidity of the wall portion 5 against deformations due to a vacuum inside the container 1 and confine most of the container 1 deformation onto the container base 7.

[0083] The mold base 36 is illustrated in further details on FIG.8 and FIG.9. As depicted on FIG.8, the mold base 36 comprises a cylindrical piston 41 by which the mold base 36 is capable of being axially moved and guided in a corresponding bore 42 in the bottom of the sidewalls 34A, 34B. The piston 41 terminates by the upper surface 37 forming a counter print of the container base 7, including the support flange 12, the inner portion 11 of the high standing ring 8, and also the diaphragm 9 and central protruding recess 15.

[0084] The upper surface 37 includes an annular peripheral face 43 corresponding to the annular support flange 12 of the container base 7. This peripheral face 43 does not quite extend in a plane perpendicular to the base mold axis (which is substantially identical to the preform and container axis X) but is in the shape of a frustum of a cone and shows an inward inclination when shown in the transversal section of FIG.9, of a small angle A1 comprised between 1° and 10°, preferably between 2° and 5° - and for example of about 3° - with respect of a plane perpendicular to the base mold axis.

[0085] The upper surface 37 also includes a frusto-conical outer face 44 corresponding to the inner portion 11 of the high standing ring 8. The outer face 44 protrudes upwardly from an inner edge of the annular peripheral face 43, up to a sharp apex 45 corresponding to the outer edge 13 at the junction between the inner portion 11 and the diaphragm 9. The outer face 44 defines a draft angle A2 with respect of a vertical line parallel to the base mold axis comprised between 1° and 10°, preferably between 3° and 6°, and for example of about 4.5°.

[0086] The upper surface 37 of the mold base 36 further includes a frusto-conical downwardly inclined inner face 46 corresponding to the invertible diaphragm 9. The inner face 46 extends from the apex 45 down to an annular inner edge 47 where it connects to a central uprising push-up 48 corresponding to the central recess 15 in the container base 7.

[0087] The apex 45 is sharp in that it has a radius of curvature, denoted R, of less than or equal to 1.5 mm. In a preferred embodiment, the radius R of curvature of the apex 45 is less than or equal to 0.25 mm. The apex 45 may also have no measurable radius of curvature, i.e. the radius of curvature is less than or equal to 0.1 mm. This provides a sharp junction between the inner portion 11 and the diaphragm 9 in the container base 7, allowing for both a better inward inversion of the diaphragm 9 wherein the sharp apex of the outer edge 13 at the junction between the inner portion 11 and the diaphragm 9 forms a punctual (when view in axial section) hinge therebetween, and a better rigidity of the container base 7 after inversion. Part of the mold base 36 may be lathe worked, in particular to obtain the sharp apex 45.

[0088] The outer face 44 and inner face 46 together define at the apex 45 an angle A3, when shown in an axial sectional plane such as on FIG.9, comprised between 50° and 70°, and preferably comprised between 60° and 65°. In a preferred embodiment, angle A3 is of about 63°.

[0089] Combination of the draft angle A2, sharp apex 45 and angle A3 provide good combined molding capability and performance to the container base 7. In particular, as already stated, upward inversion of the diaphragm 9 is facilitated whereas outward (or back) inversion thereof is prevented, whereby the diaphragm 9 is locked in its inverted position. Also, the extraction volume EV (i.e. the volume of liquid displaced during the diaphragm inversion, shown by the hatch lines on FIG.3), is maximized with respect of the whole volume of liquid in the container 1 after filling.

[0090] The extraction volume EV is also maximized due to the inner edge 47 located close to a peripheral plane P (corresponding to the standing plane of the container 1) defined by the outer edge of the peripheral face 43, whereby the inner edge 47 is spaced from the peripheral plane with a clearance CL comprised between 1 mm and 5 mm, and preferably of about 2 mm. Such clearance CL allows for a small downward piston movement of the central recess 15 of the container base 7 after filling, due to hydrostatic pressure, without affecting stability of the container 1 standing on its support flange 12.

[0091] In a preferred embodiment depicted on FIG.8, the push-up 48 is star-shaped is transversal section and comprises a series of recesses 49 (five in the depicted example) which, by counter printing during the blow molding of the container 1, form convex reinforcing ribs 50 in the central recess 15 of the container base 7, thereby stiffening the central recess 15 and preventing inversion thereof under the combined effects of hydrostatic pressure and temperature of the content.

[0092] Inversion of the diaphragm 9 is preferably achieved mechanically by means of a mandrel which has a top apex capable of being received into the central recess 15 and which, after filling, capping and cooling down of the container 1, is moved upwards whereas the container 1 is held tight. Under pressure of the mandrel, the diaphragm 9 deforms and articulates around the sharp junction with the inner portion 11 which is slightly bent outwards, until the diaphragm 9 upwardly inverts towards its final position depicted in dotted line on FIG.3. The inner portion 11 of the high standing ring 8 then bends back to its initial position where it forms an arch capable of standing buckling and bending constraints applied by the diaphragm 9 under hydrostatic pressure of the content.


Claims

1. A method of manufacturing a hot-fill container (1) from a plastic preform (16) by means of blow molding said preform (16), wherein said container (1) is provided with a base (7) including a high standing ring (8), wherein said preform (16) has an open neck (2), a wall (18) and a closed bottom (19), said method comprising the steps of:

- heating the preform (16) at a temperature greater than the glass transition temperature of the plastic;

- introducing the such heated preform (16) within a mold (32) provided with a mold base (36) and sidewalls (34A, 34B), which sidewalls are heated at a predetermined temperature;

- blow molding the preform (16) to form the container (1) for subsequent hot-fill applications;

- wherein the wall (18) of said preform (16) has a main segment (22) of substantially cylindrical shape and a lower end segment (24) of increased thickness adjacent the bottom (19), whereby said lower end segment (24) is stretched to form the high standing ring (8) of the container (1), and the bottom (19) has a thickness lower than the lower end segment (24),

- the preform (1) is subjected to a length stretch ratio comprised between 3.4 and 3.9,
characterized in that:

the preform is subjected to a hoop stretch ratio comprised between 3.5 and 3.9, and the container is provided with a central outwardly-inclined invertible diaphragm (9) and whereby the bottom (19) is stretched to form the invertible diaphragm (9) of the container (1).


 
2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the lenght stretch ratio is comprised between 3.6 and 3.8.
 
3. A method according to claim 1 or claim 2, wherein the hoop stretch ratio is comprised between 3.7 and 3.8.
 
4. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the lower end segment (24) of the preform (16) has a wall thickness of about 10% greater than a wall thickness of the main segment (22).
 
5. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the bottom (19) has a central region (29) with a substantially constant wall thickness.
 
6. A method according to claim 5, wherein the central region (29) has a wall thickness lower than 80% of the wall thickness in the lower end segment (24).
 
7. A method according to claim 5, wherein the central region (29) has a wall thickness lower than 70% of the wall thickness in the lower end segment (24).
 
8. A method according to claim 5, wherein the central region (29) has a wall thickness of about 65% of the wall thickness in the lower end segment (24).
 
9. A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the preform (16) is axially stretched by a stretch rod (33).
 
10. A method according to claim 4, wherein the preform (16) is provided with a centering index (27) capable of being received in a recess (38) formed at a lower end tip of the stretch rod (33).
 


Ansprüche

1. Verfahren zum Herstellen eines Heißfüllungsbehälters (1) aus einer Kunststoffvorform (16) mittels Blasformen der Vorform (16), wobei der Behälter (1) mit einer Basis (7) bereitgestellt ist, die einen hochstehenden Ring (8) aufweist,
wobei die Vorform (16) einen offenen Hals (2), eine Wand (18) und eine geschlossene Unterseite (19) aufweist, wobei das Verfahren die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

- Erwärmen der Vorform (16) bei einer Temperatur, die höher als die Glasübergangstemperatur des Kunststoffs ist:

- Einführen der so erwärmten Vorform (16) in eine Gussform (32), die mit einem Formunterteil (36) und Seitenwänden (34A, 34B) bereitgestellt ist, wobei die Seitenwände auf eine vorbestimmte Temperatur erwärmt werden;

- Blasformen der Vorform (16) zum Formen des Behälters (1) für die nachfolgenden Heißfüllungsanwendungen;

- wobei die Wand (18) der Vorform (16) ein Hauptsegment (22) von im Wesentlichen zylindrischer Form und ein unteres Endsegment (24) mit erhöhter Dicke benachbart zu dem Boden (19) aufweist, wobei das untere Endsegment (24) gestreckt wird, um den hochstehenden Ring (8) des Behälters (1) zu formen, und der Boden (19) eine Dicke aufweist, die kleiner als das untere Endsegment (24) ist,

- wobei die Vorform (1) einem Längenstreckungsverhältnis unterzogen wird, das zwischen 3,4 und 3,9 beträgt,

dadurch gekenntzeichnet, dass die Vorform einem Beanspruchungsstreckungsverhältnis zwischen 3,5 und 3,9 unterzogen wird und der Behälter mit einer zentralen nach außen geneigten umkehrbaren Membran (9) bereitgestellt ist und wobei der Boden (19) gestreckt wird, um die umkehrbare Membran (9) des Behälters (1) zu formen.
 
2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Längenstreckungsverhältnis zwischen 3,6 und 3,8 beträgt.
 
3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder Anspruch 2, wobei das Beanspruchungsstreckungsverhältnis zwischen 3,7 und 3,8 beträgt.
 
4. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei das untere Endsegment (24) der Vorform (16) eine Wanddicke von etwa 10 % mehr als eine Wanddicke des Hauptsegments (22) aufweist.
 
5. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei der Boden (19) einen zentralen Bereich (29) mit einer im Wesentlichen konstanten Wanddicke aufweist.
 
6. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei der zentrale Bereich (29) eine Wanddicke von weniger als 80 % der Wanddicke im unteren Endsegment (24) aufweist.
 
7. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei der zentrale Bereich (29) eine Wanddicke von weniger als 70 % der Wanddicke im unteren Endsegment (24) aufweist.
 
8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 5, wobei der zentrale Bereich (29) eine Wanddicke von etwa 65 % der Wanddicke im unteren Endsegment (24) aufweist.
 
9. Verfahren nach einem der vorhergehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Vorform (16) axial von einer Streckstange (33) gestreckt wird.
 
10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 4, wobei die Vorform (16) mit einem Zentrierindex (27) bereitgestellt ist, der in einer Ausnehmung (38) aufgenommen werden kann, die an einer unteren Endspitze der Streckstange (33) ausgebildet ist.
 


Revendications

1. Procédé de fabrication d'un récipient (1) pouvant être rempli à chaud à partir d'une préforme en plastique (16) par le soufflage de ladite préforme (16), ledit récipient (1) étant pourvu d'une base (7) comportant une bague dressée haute (8), ladite préforme (16) ayant un col ouvert (2), une paroi (18) et un fond fermé (19), ledit procédé comprenant les étapes de :

- chauffage de la préforme (16) à une température supérieure à la température de transition vitreuse du plastique ;

- introduction de la préforme (16) ainsi chauffée à l'intérieur d'un moule (32) pourvu d'une base de moule (36) et de parois latérales (34A, 34B), lesquelles parois latérales sont chauffées à une température prédéfinie ;

- soufflage de la préforme (16) pour former le récipient (1) pour des applications subséquentes de remplissage à chaud ;

- la paroi (18) de ladite préforme (16) ayant un segment principal (22) de forme sensiblement cylindrique et un segment d'extrémité inférieur (24) d'épaisseur accrue à proximité du fond (19), ledit segment d'extrémité inférieur (24) étant étiré pour former la bague dressée haute (8) du récipient (1), et le fond (19) ayant une épaisseur inférieure à celle du segment d'extrémité inférieur (24),

- la préforme (1) étant soumise à un rapport d'étirage en longueur comprise entre 3,4 et 3,9, caractérisé en ce que la préforme est soumise à un rapport d'étirage circonférentiel compris entre 3,5 et 3,9 et le récipient est pourvu d'un diaphragme (9) central inversible incliné vers l'extérieur, et le fond (19) étant ainsi étiré pour former le diaphragme inversible (9) du récipient (1).


 
2. Procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le rapport d'étirage en longueur est compris entre 3,6 et 3,8.
 
3. Procédé selon la revendication 1 ou la revendication 2, dans lequel le rapport d'étirage circonférentiel est compris entre 3,7 et 3,8.
 
4. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le segment d'extrémité inférieur (24) de la préforme (16) a une épaisseur de paroi supérieure d'environ 10 % à une épaisseur de paroi du segment principal (22).
 
5. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le fond (19) a une région centrale (29) avec une épaisseur de paroi sensiblement constante.
 
6. Procédé selon la revendication 5, dans lequel la région centrale (29) a une épaisseur de paroi inférieure à 80 % de l'épaisseur de paroi dans le segment d'extrémité inférieur (24).
 
7. Procédé selon la revendication 5, dans lequel la région centrale (29) a une épaisseur de paroi inférieure à 70 % de l'épaisseur de paroi dans le segment d'extrémité inférieur (24).
 
8. Procédé selon la revendication 5, dans lequel la région centrale (29) a une épaisseur de paroi d'environ 65 % de l'épaisseur de paroi dans le segment d'extrémité inférieur (24).
 
9. Procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la préforme (16) est étirée axialement par une tige d'étirage (33).
 
10. Procédé selon la revendication 4, dans lequel la préforme (16) est pourvue d'un index de centrage (27) susceptible d'être reçu dans un évidemment (38) formé à une pointe d'extrémité inférieure de la tige d'étirage (33).
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description