(19)
(11)EP 3 539 749 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 19172468.1

(22)Date of filing:  28.09.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
B29C 49/42(2006.01)
B29C 49/78(2006.01)
B29C 49/58(2006.01)
B29L 31/30(2006.01)
B29C 49/04(2006.01)
B29K 105/04(2006.01)
B29K 23/00(2006.01)
B29C 49/18(2006.01)

(54)

METHOD FOR MANUFACTURING FOAM MOLDED ARTICLE

VERFAHREN ZUR HERSTELLUNG EINES SCHAUMGEFORMTEN ARTIKELS

PROCÉDÉ POUR LA FABRICATION D'UN ARTICLE MOULÉ EN MOUSSE


(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

(30)Priority: 28.09.2015 JP 2015189801
27.11.2015 JP 2015231469

(43)Date of publication of application:
18.09.2019 Bulletin 2019/38

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
16851633.4 / 3357670

(73)Proprietor: Kyoraku Co., Ltd.
Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 602-0912 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Onodera, Masaaki
    Kanagawa 242-0018 (JP)
  • Ono, Yoshinori
    Kanagawa 242-0018 (JP)
  • Igarashi, Yu
    Kanagawa 242-0018 (JP)

(74)Representative: Gulde & Partner 
Patent- und Rechtsanwaltskanzlei mbB Wallstraße 58/59
10179 Berlin
10179 Berlin (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2016/098695
JP-A- H06 218 801
JP-A- H10 100 236
JP-A- H04 323 021
JP-A- H06 270 242
  
      
    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

    TECHINICAL FIELD



    [0001] The present invention relates to a method of manufacturing a foam molded article.

    BACKGROUND ART



    [0002] For example, an air-conditioner for automobiles or the like uses a tubular air-conditioning duct for ventilation.

    [0003] Foam molded articles formed of foam resins obtained by foaming thermoplastic resins using foaming agents are known to be used as air-conditioning ducts. Demands for foam molded articles are being increased, since they have both high heat insulation properties and light weight.

    [0004] Widely known as a method of manufacturing such a foam molded article is foam blow molding, which involves closing split molds with respect to a molten foam resin and expanding the molten foam resin by blowing air thereinto.

    [0005] The expansion ratios of foam molded articles have tended to be increased due to weight reduction requirements in recent years. However, an increase in the expansion rate is more likely to cause welding between portions of the outer surface of a foam parison to form a streak on the outer surface of the resulting foam molded article, that is, to cause a so-called "fold" phenomenon. JP 2002-192601 A discloses a method that aims to suppress occurrence of a fold and involves closing a lower portion of a tubular foam parison and expanding the parison by blowing air into the parison before and/or while sandwiching the parison between molds.

    [0006] JP H10-100236 A discloses a process for manufacturing a foam molded product comprising a foam resin and a reinforcing material having a pipe-structure buried therein. In the process, first a parison is formed by extruding a pre-foamed resin between two open mold halves so as to envelope the reinforcing pipe. Then the lower end of the parison is closed by a lower pinch device and warm air is blown through a plurality of holes provided in the reinforcing pipe. Subsequently the mold halves are closed so as to mold the parison into a desired shape according to the mold cavity, followed by filling the space within the molded parison with pre-foamed resin beads and supplying heating steam from the reinforcing pipe so as to perform main foaming.

    [0007] WO 2016/098695 A1 discloses a method of manufacturing a foam blow-molded article comprising extruding a foamable resin melt containing a physical blowing agent downward from an annular die to form a cylindrical foam parison, sandwiching the foam parison between split molds and then blow-molding the parison. Before the foam parison has finished being sandwiched between the split mold at the latest, a gas is blown from a gas blow port provided directly below the annular die into the foam parison toward the internal peripheral surface of the upper part of the foam parison as to widen the foam parison.

    [0008] JP H06-270242 A is directed to cutter pinching the lower end of a parison extruded from an annular space passage of a die head.

    SUMMARY OF INVENTION


    Technical Problem



    [0009] However, the method of JP 2002-192601 A requires blowing air into the parison before closing the molds and therefore complicates the manufacturing process.

    [0010] The present invention has been made in view of the foregoing, and an object thereof is to provide a foam molded article manufacturing method that is able to suppress occurrence of a fold in a simple process.

    Solution to Problem



    [0011] The present invention provides a method of manufacturing a foam molded article according to claim 1.

    [0012] Various embodiments of the present invention are described below. The embodiments below can be combined with each other.

    [0013] Preferably, the pre-blowing is performed using a pre-blow nozzle located over or under a region between the split molds.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0014] 

    Fig. 1 shows the configuration of a foam molded article manufacturing apparatus that can be used in the present invention.

    Fig. 2 is a sectional view of a die head 12 in Fig. 1.

    Fig. 3 is a sectional view of the die head 12, split molds 14, lower pinchers 15, and vicinities thereof in Fig. 1 in a state in which a foam parison 13 has been extruded according to a first reference embodiment not forming part of the invention.

    Fig. 4 is a sectional view showing a state in which the foam parison 13 has been pinched between the lower pinchers 15 from a state in Fig. 3.

    Fig. 5 is a sectional view showing a state in which the split molds 14 have been closed from the state in Fig. 4.

    Fig. 6A is a plan view showing the configuration of a foam molded article 16 to which the present invention is suitably applied.

    Fig. 6B shows a section A-A or section B-B in Fig. 6A.

    Fig. 7A is a drawing showing the shrinkage of the shape of the parison.

    Fig. 7B is a drawing showing a fold problem (curtain phenomenon) in a section C-C in Fig. 7A.

    Fig. 8 is a drawing showing a state in which a foam parison 13 according to a second reference embodiment not forming part of the present invention has been formed.

    Fig. 9 is a drawing showing a state in which the foam parison 13 has been pinched between lower pinchers 15 from a state in Fig. 8.

    Fig. 10 is a drawing showing a state in which pre-blowing in the parison outer circumference direction has been performed from the state in Fig. 9.

    Fig. 11 is a drawing showing a state in which the split molds 14 have been closed from the state in Fig. 10.

    Fig. 12 is a diagram showing a third reference embodiment not forming part of the present invention.

    Fig. 13 is a drawing showing a state in which a foam parison 13 has been pinched between lower pinchers 15 from a state in Fig. 12.

    Fig. 14 is a drawing showing a first embodiment of the present invention.

    Fig. 15 is a drawing showing a state in which a foam parison 13 has been pinched between upper pinchers 15a from a state in Fig. 14.

    Fig. 16 is a diagram showing a second embodiment of the present invention.


    DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS



    [0015] Now, embodiments of the present invention will be described. Various features described in the embodiments below can be combined with each other. Inventions are established for the respective features.

    [0016] First, a method of manufacturing a foam molded article according to a reference method not belonging to the present invention is described. The method includes an extrusion step of extruding a molten, kneaded resin containing a foaming agent through an annular slit between a die core and a die shell surrounding the die core to form a cylindrical foam parison and extruding the foam parison between a pair of split molds, a lower-pinching step of pinching the foam parison between lower pinchers disposed under the split molds, and a molding step of molding the foam parison by closing the split molds, after the lower-pinching step. H/D is 1.33 to 3.33 and L/D is 0.33 to 2.00 where D represents a diameter of the die core; H represents a distance between a lower surface of the die core and an upper surface of each of the split molds; and L represents a distance between a lower surface of each of the split molds and an upper surface of the corresponding lower pincher.

    [0017] The present invention provides a method of manufacturing a foam molded article according to claim 1.

    1. First Reference Embodiment



    [0018] First, there will be described a foam molded article manufacturing apparatus suitable to perform a foam molded article manufacturing method according to a first reference embodiment not forming part of the present invention. Then, the foam molded article manufacturing method according to the reference embodiment will be described.

    1.1 Foam Molded Article Manufacturing Apparatus



    [0019] As shown in Figs. 1 to 5, the foam molded article manufacturing apparatus includes a foam extruder 1, split molds 14, and lower pinchers 15. The foam extruder 1 includes a cylinder 3, a resin inlet 5, a screw 7, a foaming agent inlet P, a temperature controller 9, a resin extrusion outlet 11, and a die head 12.

    [0020] The respective elements will be described in detail below.

    Resin Inlet 5



    [0021] The resin inlet 5 is a so-called "hopper", and a raw-material resin is introduced therethrough. The raw-material resin may be in any form and is typically in the form of pellets. The raw-material resin is, for example, a thermoplastic resin such as polyolefin. Examples of polyolefin include low-density polyethylene, linear low-density polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, polypropylene, ethylene-propylene copolymer, and mixtures thereof. After being introduced to the cylinder 3 through the resin inlet 5, the raw-material resin is heated and thus molten in the cylinder 3 to give a molten resin. The molten resin is transferred toward the resin extrusion outlet 11 disposed at one end of the cylinder 3 by the rotation of the screw 7 disposed in the cylinder 3.

    Screw 7



    [0022] The screw 7 is disposed in the cylinder 3 and transfers the molten resin toward the resin extrusion outlet 11 by the rotation thereof while kneading the molten resin. The screw 7 is provided with a gear device 30 at one end thereof and is rotationally driven by the gear device 30. The number of screws 7 disposed in the cylinder 3 may be one, or two or more.

    Foaming Agent Inlet P



    [0023] The cylinder 3 is provided with the foaming agent inlet P for introducing a foaming agent to the cylinder 3. The foaming agent inlet P may be disposed in any position. However, the foaming agent inlet P is preferably disposed in a position represented by 0.3L to 0.7L (preferably 0.4L to 0.6L) where 0 represents the position of the end close to the resin inlet 5, of the cylinder 3; and L represents the position of the end close to the resin extrusion outlet 11 thereof. If the foaming agent inlet P is disposed in a position closer to the resin inlet 5 than a position represented by 0.3L, the foaming agent may be introduced with the molten resin insufficiently kneaded, resulting in insufficient dispersion of the foaming agent. On the other hand, if the foaming agent inlet P is disposed in a position closer to the resin extrusion outlet 11 than a position represented by 0.7L, the temperature of the molten resin may become excessively low in the area in which the foaming agent is introduced, resulting in introduction of a smaller amount of foaming agent. This is because the temperature of the molten resin is typically controlled so as to gradually decrease toward the resin extrusion outlet 11.

    [0024] Examples of the foaming agent introduced through the foaming agent inlet P include physical foaming agents, chemical foaming agents, and mixtures thereof. Examples of physical foaming agents include inorganic physical foaming agents such as air, carbon dioxide, nitrogen gas, and water, organic physical foaming agents such as butane, pentane, hexane, dichloromethane, and dichloroethane, and supercritical fluids thereof. A supercritical fluid is preferably prepared using carbon dioxide, nitrogen, or the like. If nitrogen is used, a supercritical fluid is prepared by setting the critical temperature to -149.1°C and the critical pressure to 3.4 MPa or more; if carbon dioxide is used, a supercritical fluid is prepared by setting the critical temperature to 31°C and the critical pressure to 7.4 MPa or more. Examples of chemical foaming agents include ones that generate carbon dioxide by chemical reaction between acid (e.g., citric acid or salt thereof) and base (e.g., sodium bicarbonate). A chemical foaming agent may be introduced through the resin inlet 5 rather than the foaming agent inlet P.

    Temperature Controller 9



    [0025] The temperature controller 9 is configured to control the temperatures of the respective portions of the cylinder 3 by individually controlling multiple temperature controlling units disposed along the cylinder 3. The temperature controller 9 is also able to control the temperature of the die head 12 for forming a foam parison 13 and the temperature of a coupler 10 between the cylinder 3 and die head 12.

    Resin Extrusion Outlet 11 and Die Head 12



    [0026] A molten, kneaded resin obtained by melting and kneading the raw-material resin and foaming agent is extruded through the resin extrusion outlet 11 and introduced to the die head 12 through the coupler 10. As shown in Fig. 2, the die head 12 includes a cylindrical die case 41 and a mandrel 43 contained therein. The molten, kneaded resin extruded from the cylinder 3 is reserved in the space 46 between the die case 41 and mandrel 43. The front end of the die head 12 is provided with a die core 47 and a die shell 48 surrounding the die core 47, and an annular slit 49 is provided therebetween. By reserving the molten, kneaded resin in a predetermined amount in the space 46 and then vertically pressing down a ring-shaped piston 45, the molten, kneaded resin is extruded through the annular slit 49 to form a cylindrical foam parison 13. The foam parison 13 is extruded between the pair of split molds 14.

    Split Molds 14 and Lower Pinchers 15



    [0027] The pair of split molds 14 are used to mold the foam parison 13 into a foam molded article. As shown in Fig. 3, the split molds 14 are provided with pinch-off parts 14a surrounding cavities 14b. The split molds 14 are also provided with flash escape parts 14c surrounding the pinch-off parts 14a. The area pinched between the pinch-off parts 14a, of the foam parison 13 forms a parting line PL shown in Fig. 6B, and the portion outside the pinch-off parts 14a, of the foam parison 13 forms flash. The distance R from the upper surface to the pinch-off part 14a of each split mold 14 is, for example, 50 mm. The height Q of each pinch-off part 14a seen from the corresponding flash escape part 14c is, for example, 5 to 10 mm.

    [0028] The foam parison 13 may be molded using any molding method that uses the split molds 14. For example, blow molding, which involves molding the foam parison 13 by blowing air into the cavities of the split molds 14, vacuum molding, which involves molding the foam parison 13 by decompressing the cavities of the split molds 14 from the inner surfaces of the cavities, or a combination thereof may be used. As shown in Figs. 3 and 4, the lower pinchers 15 are used to pinch a lower portion of the foam parison 13 (hereafter referred to as "lower-pinching") to form a closed space 13a in the foam parison 13. After the lower-pinching, the split molds 14 are closed.

    [0029] As shown in Figs. 2 and 3, the split molds 14 are disposed such that (the distance H between the lower surface of the die core 47 and the upper surface of each split mold 14)/(the diameter D of the die core 47) is 1.33 to 3.33. The lower pinchers 15 are disposed such that (the distance L between the lower surface of each split mold 14 and the upper surface of the corresponding lower pincher 15)/(the diameter D of the die core 47) is 0.33 to 2.00. If the value of H/D or L/D is too small, the internal pressure of the closed space 13a of the foam parison 13 may be excessively increased during closing of the split molds 14 following the lower-pinching, resulting in rupture of the foam parison 13. If the value of H/D or L/D is too large, the internal pressure of the closed space 13a of the foam parison 13 in the cavities 14b would not be sufficiently increased during closing of the split molds 14 following the lower-pinching. Consequently, the difference between the shape of the foam parison 13 in the cavities 14b after closing the molds and the shape of a foam molded article as an end product would be increased, making a fold more likely to occur. Specifically, H/D may be, for example, 1.33, 1.50, 2.00, 2.50, 3.00, or 3.33, or may be between any two of the values presented. Specifically, L/D may be, for example, 0.33, 0.50, 1.00, 1.50, or 2.00, or may be between any two of the values presented. D is 50 to 300 mm. Specifically, D is, for example, 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, or 300 mm, or may be between any two of the values presented.

    2. Foam Molded Article Manufacturing Method (First Reference Embodiment)



    [0030] The foam molded article manufacturing method according to the first reference embodiment not forming part of the present invention includes an extrusion step, a lower-pinching step, and a molding step.

    [0031] As shown in Fig. 3, the extrusion step involves extruding the molten, kneaded resin containing the foaming agent from the annular slit 49 between the die core 47 and the die shell 48 surrounding the die core 47 to form a cylindrical foam parison 13, and extruding the foam parison 13 between the pair of split molds 14. In the extrusion step, the split molds 14 and lower pinchers 15 are open.

    [0032] As shown in Figs. 3 and 4, the lower-pinching step involves pinching the foam parison 13 between the lower pinchers 15 disposed under the split molds 14. Specifically, the lower pinchers 15 are moved in the directions of arrows X in Fig. 3 so that the foam parison 13 is placed in a lower-pinching state shown in Fig. 4. Thus, a closed space 13a is formed in the foam parison 13.

    [0033] As shown in Figs. 4 and 5, the molding step following the lower-pinching step involves molding the foam parison 13 by closing the split molds 14. Specifically, the split molds 14 are closed by moving the split molds 14 in the directions of arrows Y in Fig. 4. The foam parison 13 may be molded by blow molding, vacuum molding, or a combination thereof. In the first reference embodiment, (the distance H between the lower surface of the die core 47 and the upper surface of each split mold 14)/(the diameter D of the die core 47) is 1.33 to 3.33, and (the distance L between the lower surface of each split mold 14 and the upper surface of the corresponding lower pincher 15)/(the diameter D of the die core 47) is 0.33 to 2.00. Thus, rupture of the foam parison 13 is suppressed while the molds are closed, and occurrence of a fold is suppressed while the foam parison 13 is molded.

    [0034] If the method includes a step of decompressing the split molds 14 so that the foam parison 13 is adsorbed by the split molds 14, the start timing of decompression of one split mold 14 is preferably delayed by one sec or more (e.g., 1 to 5 sec) compared to the start timing of decompression of the other split mold 14. In particular, it is preferred to delay the start timing of decompression of the split mold 14 in which a fold is more likely to occur. For example, if the decompression of the right split mold 14 is started first, the foam parison 13 present in the cavities 14b is moved to the right, and the gap between the left split mold 14 and the foam parison 13 is increased. If the decompression of the left split mold 14 is started in this state, the foam parison 13 is expanded in a larger space. Thus, the wrinkles of the foam parison 13 are more likely to be stretched, and a fold is less likely to occur. Accordingly, if a fold is more likely to occur on a left portion of the foam parison 13, it is desirable to first start the decompression of the right split mold 14. Conversely, if a fold is more likely to occur on a right portion of the foam parison 13, it is desirable to first start the decompression of the left split mold 14.

    [0035] In the extrusion step, it is preferred to control the thickness of the foam parison 13 so that the thickness T1 of the area where a fold is more likely to occur, of the foam parison 13 becomes smaller than the thickness T2 of another area of the foam parison 13. T1/T2 is preferably 0.8 to 0.9. Thus, the area where a fold is more likely to occur, of the foam parison 13 is easily stretched, resulting in suppression of a fold. If the foam molded article is a tubular object including a main channel 17 and sub-channels 18 connected to the main channel 17, as shown in Fig. 6B, a fold is more likely to occur on the junctions 19 between the main channel 17 and sub-channels 18. Accordingly, it is preferred to reduce the thicknesses of areas corresponding to the junctions 19, of the foam parison 13.

    3. Foam Molded Article



    [0036] The foam molded article manufacturing method of the first reference embodiment is a method that can be suitably used to manufacture a foam molded article having any shape and expansion ratio and that effectively suppresses occurrence of a fold. For this reason, this method is particularly suitable to manufacture a foam molded article having a shape or expansion ratio which makes a fold more likely to occur.

    [0037] In this respect, the expansion ratio of the foam molded article is preferably 2.5 or more. The reason is that higher expansion ratios result in greater reductions in the strength of the foam parison 13, making wrinkles and thus a fold more likely to occur on the foam parison 13. The upper limit of the expansion ratio may be any value and is, for example, 5. Specifically, the expansion ratio is, for example, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, or 5, or may be between any two of the values presented. The average thickness of the foam molded article is preferably 2 mm or more. The reason is that if the same amount of resin is used, greater average thicknesses result in greater increases in the expansion ratio and greater reductions in the strength of the foam parison 13, making a fold more likely to occur. The upper limit of the average thickness may be any value and is, for example, 6 mm. Specifically, the average thickness is, for example, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, or 6 mm, or may be between any two of the values presented.

    [0038] As shown in Fig. 6A, a foam molded article 16 is, for example, a tubular object including the main channel 17 and sub-channels 18 connected to the main channel 17. The angle α between the main channel 17 and each sub-channel 18 is preferably 45 to 90°. In an example in Fig. 6A, the angle α is 90°. The foam molded article 16 having such a shape is more likely to make a fold on the junctions 19 between the main channel 17 and sub-channels 18. While the sub-channels 18 are divergent channels in Fig. 6A, they may be approximately L-shaped bent channels.

    [0039] A section S which forms an angle β of 0 to 45° with the extrusion direction of the foam parison 13 preferably has a blow ratio of 0.5 to 0.8. In Fig. 6A, a section A-A forms an angle β of 45°, and a section B-B forms an angle β of 0°. The section S is preferably a section of a sub-channel 18 or junction 19, more preferably a section of a junction 19. The reason is that by calculating the blow ratio of a section of such a part, the prediction accuracy of likelihood of the occurrence of a fold can be increased. The blow ratio is calculated using the following method: first, as shown in Fig. 6B, the outermost points of opposed parting lines are connected using a straight line W in the section S; next, a point T which is most distant from the straight line W, and the straight line W are connected using a straight line V in the section S; and then, the blow ratio is calculated in accordance with a formula, the blow ratio = (the length of the straight line V) / (the length of the straight line W). Specifically, the blow ratio is, for example, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, or 0.8, or may be between any two of the values presented.

    Examples



    [0040] Foam molded articles were manufactured using the foam molded article manufacturing apparatus shown in Fig. 1 and evaluated on whether a fold is present. The inner diameter of the cylinder 3 of the foam extruder 1 was 50 mm, and L/D was 34. Used as a raw-material resin was one obtained by mixing LDPE (grade: G201-F available from Sumitomo Chemical Company, Limited) and HDPE (grade: B470 available from Asahi Kasei Corporation) at a mass ratio of 1:1. The temperature controller 9 was set such that the temperature of the foam parison 13 becomes 190 to 200°C. The number of revolutions of the screw 7 was set to 60 rmm, and the extrusion rate was set to 20 kg/hr. N2 gas was introduced as a foaming agent through the foaming agent inlet P disposed in a position represented by 0.5 L. The expansion ratio was adjusted by changing the amount of gas to be introduced. The diameter of the die core 47 was set to 150 mm.

    [0041] Foam parisons formed under the above conditions were blow-molded into foam molded articles having a shape shown in Fig. 6A under conditions shown in Table 1, and the obtained foam molded articles were evaluated on whether a fold had occurred thereon.

    [0042] As shown in Table 1, folds were formed on Samples Nos. 3 to 8 and 11 to 16. Any of the folds was formed on the junction 19 so as to extend in a direction which forms an angle β of 0 to 45° with the extrusion direction of the foam parison 13. Also, the blow ratio of a section along the direction in which each fold extends was calculated. As shown in Table 1, it was found that a fold is more likely to occur in positions where the blow ratio is 0.5 to 0.8.

    [0043] No fold was formed on Samples Nos. 1, 2, 9, and 10 having H/D of 1.33 to 3.33 and L/D of 0.33 to 2.00, regardless of the blow ratio.

    [0044] Based on these results, it was found that by setting H/D to 1.33 to 3.33 and L/D to 0.33 to 2.00, even a foam molded article having an expansion ratio of 2.5 or more and a blow ratio of the junction 19 of 0.5 to 0.8 can prevent occurrence of a fold. Note that Samples having expansion ratios of 2 or less made no fold even if H/D and L/D fall outside the ranges.
    [Table 1]
    Sample No.Expansion rateAverage thicknessH/DL/DWhether a fold is present
    Blow ratio 0.5-0.6Blow ratio 0.6-0.7Blow ratio 0.7-0.8
    1 3 4 mm 1.33 0.33      
    2 3 4 mm 3.33 2.00      
    3 3 4 mm 1.00 0.33   Present Present
    4 3 4 mm 1.33 0.20     Present
    5 3 4 mm 1.00 0.20 Present Present Present
    6 3 4 mm 4.00 2.00     Present
    7 3 4 mm 3.33 2.33   Present Present
    8 3 4 mm 4.00 2.33 Present Present Present
     
    9 2.5 2 mm 1.33 0.33      
    10 2.5 2 mm 3.33 2.00      
    11 2.5 2 mm 1.00 0.33     Present
    12 2.5 2 mm 1.33 0.20     Present
    13 2.5 2 mm 1.00 0.20   Present Present
    14 2.5 2 mm 4.00 2.00     Present
    15 2.5 2 mm 3.33 2.33     Present
    16 2.5 2 mm 4.00 2.33   Present Present

    2. Second Reference Embodiment (not part of the invention)



    [0045] The foam molded article manufacturing apparatus and method according to the first reference embodiment may perform pre-blowing by injecting air in the direction of an arrow B0 (extrusion direction) using a pre-blow nozzle, as shown in Fig. 7A, although such a case has not been described in the first reference embodiment. However, foam blow molding including such pre-blowing has the following problems.

    [0046] 
    1. (1) As shown in Fig. 7A, air flow occurs inside the parison, and ambient air is attracted (Coanda effect). Thus, a negative pressure tends to be formed inside the parison, in particular, around the pre-blow nozzle, resulting in shrinkage of the shape of the parison into a gourd shape.
    2. (2) The melt tension of a thermoplastic resin in foam blow molding is lower than that in typical blow molding, and a foam parison is stretched in the direction of gravity (typically, in the extrusion direction) due to the effect of gravity. As a result, the parison diameter is reduced.


    [0047] To solve these problems, the foam molded article manufacturing apparatus and method according to the second reference embodiment have an ingenious idea that allows for the formation of a foam parison into an approximately cylindrical shape without shrinking it and allows for the ease of reduction of the parison diameter. Also, this ingenious idea has been found to allow for a greater reduction in the incidence of a fold (in particular, a curtain phenomenon shown in Fig. 7B) than that in the first reference embodiment. These will be described in detail below. The elements common to the first and second reference embodiments will not be described.

    2.1 Pre-Blow Nozzle 20



    [0048] In the second reference embodiment and later, the region between split molds 14 is defined as a molding region U for the convenience of description. A pre-blow nozzle 20 has multiple micropores (not shown) in the side surface thereof, and air is injected through the micropores. The micropores may have any shapes and may have, for example, circular or oval shapes, or polygonal shapes such as quadrangular shapes. If the micropores are circular, the diameter of one micropore is preferably about 0.3 mm to 40.0 mm, more preferably 3.0 mm. If the diameter is smaller than the above range, the effect of expanding a foam parison 13 by pre-blowing would not be sufficiently obtained. Also, in case a resin adheres to the micropores, the micropores may be blocked. On the other hand, if the diameter is larger than the above range, processing itself is difficult (is limited by the size of the die core 47), and the resin may flow into the micropores. Although the number of micropores depends on the diameters thereof, it is preferably 3 to 8, more preferably 4.

    [0049] As shown in Figs. 8 to 11, after a resin extrusion step (see Fig. 8) and a lower-pinching step (Fig. 9), pre-blowing is performed by injecting air from the pre-blow nozzle 20 toward the inner surface of the foam parison 13 in a direction which forms an angle γ of 45° or more and 135° or less with the resin extrusion direction in a closed space 13a. Specifically, the angle γ is, for example, 45°, 50°, 55°, 60°, 65°, 70°, 75°, 80°, 85°, 90°, 95°, 100°, 105°, 110°, 115°, 120°, 125°, 130°, or 135°, or may be between any two values presented. The angle γ is preferably 60° or more and 120° or less. As used herein, "pre-blowing" is blowing performed before molding the foam parison 13 using the split molds 14. In the second reference embodiment, the extrusion direction is the direction of gravity, and pre-blowing is performed by injecting air from the pre-blow nozzle 20 toward the inner surface of the foam parison 13 in the parison outer circumference direction perpendicular to the extrusion direction shown in Figs. 8 to 11 (i.e., at an angle γ of 90°) in the closed space 13a. The source pressure of a gas to be pre-blown is, for example, about 0.3 bar to 7.0 bar, preferably 4.0 bar. If the source pressure is lower than the above range, the parison expansion function would not be sufficiently obtained; if the source pressure is higher than the above range, the expansion ratio would be occasionally reduced due to the internal pressure applied to the parison.

    [0050] The pre-blow nozzle 20 is disposed under a die head 12 and in the approximate center of an annular slit 49. The pre-blow nozzle 20 may be configured such that the position thereof is vertically controllable, or may be disposed so as to be detachable. The pre-blow nozzle 20 may also be configured so as to rotate during air injection.

    2.2. Foam Molded Article Manufacturing Method



    [0051] Next, a foam molded article manufacturing method according to the second reference embodiment of the present invention will be described.

    [0052] First, as shown in Fig. 8, a molten, kneaded resin containing a foaming agent is extruded through the annular slit 49 between the die core 47 and a die shell 48 surrounding the die core 47 so as to be located in the approximately entire molding region U. Thus, a tubular (e.g., cylindrical) foam parison 13 is formed. In this parison formation step, the split molds 14 and lower pinchers 15 are open.

    [0053] As shown in Figs. 8 and 9, the foam parison 13 is pinched between the lower pinchers 15 disposed under the split molds 14. Specifically, the foam parison 13 is placed in a lower-pinching state shown in Fig. 9 by moving the lower pinchers 15 in the directions of arrows X in Fig. 8. Thus, a closed space 13a is formed in the foam parison 13.

    [0054] Then, as shown in Figs. 9 and 10, pre-blowing is performed by injecting air from the pre-blow nozzle 20 in the directions of arrows B1 (parison outer circumference direction). In the first reference embodiment, the foam parison around the pre-blow nozzle may shrink, as shown in Fig. 7A. In the second reference embodiment, on the other hand, shrinkage of the foam parison 13 around the pre-blow nozzle 20 can be suppressed by applying pressure to the foam parison 13 in the outer circumference direction thereof so that the foam parison 13 is expanded, as shown in Fig. 10. Also, the phenomenon where the diameter of the foam parison 13 is reduced due to the effect of gravity is alleviated. Further, it is possible to suppress a curtain phenomenon that occurs on the foam parison 13 and to further reduce the incidence of a fold.

    [0055] Then, as shown in Figs. 10 and 11, the split molds 14 are closed. Specifically, the split molds 14 are closed by moving the split molds 14 in the directions of arrows Y in Fig. 10. Then, a foam molded article 13b is molded by pressing the foam parison 13 against the split molds 14. Specifically, the foam molded article 13b is molded by shaping the foam parison 13 into a shape corresponding to the surfaces of the cavities 14b of the split molds 14. A method for pressing the foam parison 13 against the molds in this step may be any of blow molding, vacuum molding, and a combination thereof.

    3. Third Reference Embodiment (not part of the invention)



    [0056] In the second reference embodiment, the pre-blow nozzle 20 is disposed under the die head 12 and in the approximate center of the annular slit 49. In the third reference embodiment, on the other hand, a pre-blow nozzle 20 is disposed under lower pinchers 15, as shown in Figs. 12 and 13. In the third reference embodiment also, pre-blowing is performed by injecting air from the pre-blow nozzle 20 in the directions of arrows B1. In this case, the lower pinchers 15 preferably pinch the pre-blow nozzle 20 along with the foam parison 13, as shown in Fig. 12.

    [0057] In the third reference embodiment also, pressure is applied to the foam parison 13 in the outer circumference direction thereof, resulting in expansion of the foam parison 13, as shown in Fig. 13. Thus, shrinkage of the foam parison 13 around the pre-blow nozzle 20 can be suppressed. Also, the phenomenon where the diameter of the foam parison 13 is reduced due to the effect of gravity is alleviated. Further, a curtain phenomenon that occurs on the foam parison 13 can be suppressed, resulting in a further reduction in the incidence of a fold.

    4. First Embodiment according to the present invention



    [0058] In the first to third reference embodiments, the lower pinchers 15 are located under the region (molding region U) between the split molds 14, as represented by the name thereof. In the first embodiment according to the invention, on the other hand, upper pinchers 15a are disposed in an upper portion of a molding region U (or over the molding region U, depending on the size of split molds 14) in place of lower pinchers 15, as shown in Figs. 14 and 15. In the first to third reference embodiments, the foam parison 13 is located in the approximately entire region (molding region U) between the split molds 14 and then subjected to lower-pinching. In the present embodiment, on the other hand, pre-blowing is gradually performed in the directions of arrows B1 while gradually extruding a foam parison 13. Then, at the predetermined timing when the foam parison 13 is located in the upper portion of the molding region U, upper-pinching is performed by moving the upper pinchers 15a in the directions of arrows X.

    [0059] The extrusion of the foam parison 13 in a predetermined amount and pre-blowing may be alternately performed multiple times as follows: first, the foam parison 13 is extruded in a predetermined amount so that the foam parison 13 is located in the upper portion of the molding region U, as shown in Fig. 14; then, upper-pinching is performed by pinching and sealing the foam parison 13, and pre-blowing is performed, as shown in Fig. 15; and then the extrusion of the foam parison 13 and pre-blowing are each performed at least once, or, as described above, pre-blowing is gradually performed while gradually extruding the foam parison 13. Note that as the foam parison 13 is extruded, the upper pinchers 15a are extruded downward.

    [0060] In other words, in the first embodiment according to the invention, the foam parison 13 is pinched between the upper pinchers 15a and sealed before the lower end of the foam parison 13 reaches the lower end of the molding region U, and pre-blowing is performed while lowering the upper pinchers 15a as the lower end of the foam parison 13 is lowered.

    [0061] In the present embodiment also, pressure is applied to the foam parison 13 in the outer circumference direction thereof, resulting in expansion of the foam parison 13, as shown in Fig. 15. Thus, shrinkage of the foam parison 13 around the pre-blow nozzle 20 can be suppressed. Also, the phenomenon where the diameter of the foam parison 13 is reduced due to the effect of gravity is alleviated. Further, a curtain phenomenon that occurs on the foam parison 13 can be suppressed, resulting in a further reduction in the incidence of a fold.

    4.1 Second Embodiment according to the Invention



    [0062] In the second embodiment, upper-pinching need not be performed, as shown in Fig. 16. In this case, pre-blowing is gradually performed in the directions of arrows B1 while gradually extruding a foam parison 13, or the extrusion of the foam parison 13 in a predetermined amount and pre-blowing are alternately performed multiple times.

    Description of Reference Signs



    [0063] 

    1: foam extruder

    3: cylinder

    5: resin inlet

    7: screw

    9: temperature controller

    10: coupler

    11: resin extrusion outlet

    12: die head

    13: foam parison

    13a: closed space

    13b: foam molded article

    14: split mold

    14a: pinch-off part

    14b: cavity

    14c: part

    15: lower pincher

    15a: upper pincher

    16: foam molded article

    17: main channel

    18: sub-channel

    19: junction

    20: pre-blow nozzle

    30: gear device

    41: die case

    43: mandrel

    45: ring-shaped piston

    46: space

    47: die core

    48: die shell

    49: annular slit

    P: foaming agent inlet

    PL: parting line




    Claims

    1. A method of manufacturing a foam molded article (16), comprising:

    a parison formation step of forming a foam parison (13) by extruding a molten, kneaded resin containing a foaming agent through an annular slit (49) in an extrusion direction in which a molding region (U) between a pair of split molds (14) lies, and

    a molding step of molding a foam molded article (16) by closing the split molds (14) with respect to the foam parison (13) located in the molding region (U), wherein

    the parison formation step includes performing pre-blowing by injecting air toward an inner surface of the foam parison (13) in a direction which forms an angle of 45° or more and 135° or less with the extrusion direction (B0),

    characterized in that in the parison formation step, the pre-blowing is started before a lower end of the foam parison (13) reaches a lower end of the molding region (U).


     
    2. The method of Claim 1, wherein the pre-blowing is performed using a pre-blow nozzle (20) located over or under the molding region (U).
     
    3. The method of Claim 1 or 2, wherein, in the parison formation step, the foam parison (13) is pinched between pinchers (15a) and sealed before a lower end of the foam parison (13) reaches a lower end of the molding region (U), and the pre-blowing is performed while lowering the pinchers (15a) as the lower end of the foam parison (13) is lowered.
     
    4. The method of any one of Claims 1 to 3, wherein, in the parison formation step, upper-pinching is performed to seal the foam parison (13) by pinching the foam parison (13) formed in an upper portion of the molding region (U) or over the molding region (U).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Verfahren zur Herstellung eines formgeschäumten Artikels (16), umfassend:

    einen Vorformlingsbildungsschritt zur Bildung eines Schaumvorformlings (13) durch Extrudieren eines geschmolzenen, gekneteten Harzes, das ein Treibmittel enthält, durch einen ringförmigen Schlitz (49) in einer Extrusionsrichtung, in der ein Formbereich (U) zwischen zwei Hälften eines Backenwerkzeuges (14) liegt, und

    einen Formschritt zum Formen eines formgeschäumten Artikels (16) durch Schließen des Backenwerkzeuges (14) bezüglich des in dem Formbereich (U) befindlichen Schaumvorformlings (13), wobei

    der Vorformlingsbildungsschritt ein Vorblasen durch Einblasen von Luft zu einer Innenfläche des Schaumvorformlings (13) hin in eine Richtung, die einen Winkel von 45 ° oder mehr und 135 ° oder weniger mit der Extrusionsrichtung (B0) bildet,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    in dem Vorformlingsbildungsschritt das Vorblasen begonnen wird, bevor ein unteres Ende des Schaumvorformlings (13) ein unteres Ende des Formbereiches (U) erreicht.


     
    2. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1, wobei das Vorblasen unter Verwendung einer über oder unter dem Formbereich (U) befindlichen Vorblasdüse (20) erfolgt.
     
    3. Verfahren nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei in dem Vorformlingsbildungsschritt der Schaumvorformling (13) zwischen Quetschern (15a) gequetscht wird und verschlossen wird, bevor ein unteres Ende des Schaumvorformlings (13) ein unteres Ende des Formbereiches (U) erreicht, und das Vorblasen erfolgt, während die Quetscher (15a) mit dem Absenken des unteren Endes des Schaumvorformlings (13) abgesenkt werden.
     
    4. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, wobei in dem Vorformlingsbildungsschritt ein oberes Quetschen erfolgt, um den Schaumvorformling (13) durch Quetschen des in einem oberen Abschnitt des Formbereiches (U) oder über dem Formbereich (U) gebildeten Schaumvorformlings (13) zu verschließen.
     


    Revendications

    1. Procédé de fabrication d'un article moulé en mousse (16), comprenant :

    une étape de formation de paraison pour la formation d'une paraison en mousse (13) par extrusion d'une résine malaxée fondue contenant un agent moussant au travers d'une fente annulaire (49) dans une direction d'extrusion dans laquelle se trouve une région de moulage (U) entre une paire de moitiés de moule (14), et

    une étape de moulage pour le moulage d'un article moulé en mousse (16) par fermeture des moitiés de moule (14) par rapport à la paraison en mousse (13) située dans la région de moulage (U),

    l'étape de formation de paraison incluant la réalisation d'un pré-soufflage par injection d'air vers une surface intérieure de la paraison en mousse (13) dans une direction qui forme un angle de 45° ou plus et de 135° ou moins avec la direction d'extrusion (B0),

    caractérisé en ce que

    dans l'étape de formation de paraison, le pré-soufflage est démarré avant qu'une extrémité inférieure de la paraison en mousse (13) atteigne une extrémité inférieure de la région de moulage (U).


     
    2. Procédé de la revendication 1, dans lequel le pré-soufflage est réalisé en utilisant une buse de pré-soufflage (20) située au-dessus ou en dessous de la région de moulage (U).
     
    3. Procédé de la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel, dans l'étape de formation de paraison, la paraison en mousse (13) est pincée entre des pinces (15a) et scellée avant qu'une extrémité inférieure de la paraison en mousse (13) atteigne une extrémité inférieure de la région de moulage (U), et le pré-soufflage est réalisé tout en abaissant les pinces (15a) à mesure que l'extrémité inférieure de la paraison en mousse (13) est abaissée.
     
    4. Procédé de l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 3, dans lequel, dans l'étape de formation de paraison, un pincement supérieur est réalisé pour sceller la paraison en mousse (13) par pincement de la paraison en mousse (13) formée dans une partie supérieure de la région de moulage (U) ou au-dessus de la région de moulage (U).
     




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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