US 20060038310 A1
A multicolored drinking cup is formed by blow molding a multicolored parison. The parison is formed by feeding the outputs of a plurality of controllable rate extruders into an extruding head and varying the flow rates of the extruders in a controlled manner under computer control to produce a parison in which the colors vary in width along the height. The parison is then blow molded to form the container.
1. A method of extruding plastic parts having multicolored stripes extending along the extrusion axis, the stripes being of varying width along the length of the part, comprising:
providing a plurality of controllable rate extruders each feeding plastic of a different color,
controlling the feed rates of each extruder by signals generated by a computer, the signals varying during the extrusion time in a complementary manner; and
connecting the outputs of each extruder to adjacent flow passages of an extruding head.
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6. Apparatus for extruding plastic parts having multicolored stripes extending along the extrusion axis, the stripes being of varying width along the length of the parts, comprising:
a plurality of controllable rate extruders each feeding plastic of a different color;
a computer connected to the extruders so as to simultaneously control their flow rates;
a control program for the computer operative to cause to the computer to generate control signals for each extruder in a complementary time varying manner; and
an extrusion head having a plurality of flow passages with adjacent flow passages connected to receive the outputs of differing extruders.
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8. A method of extruding plastic parts having multicolored stripes extending along the extrusion axis, the stripes being of varying width along the length of each part, comprising:
providing a plurality of controllable rate extruders each feeding plastic of a different color;
controlling the feed rates of each extruder in a time varying manner during the extrusion of a part; and
connecting the outputs of each extruder to adjacent flow passages of an extruding head, with each flow passage receiving the plastic output of one extruder and adjacent flow passages receiving outputs of a different extruder.
9. A method of forming blow molded plastic parts having multicolored stripes extending from one end of the part to the opposite end, the stripes being of varying width along the length of the part, comprising:
providing a plurality of controllable rate extruders each feeding plastic of a different color;
controlling the feed rates of each extruder to vary the feed rates during the formation of a part in a complementary manner;
connecting the outputs of each extruder to flow passages of an extruding head with each passage being connected to the output of one extruder, and the adjacent passages being connected to outputs of different extruders;
extruding a tubular parison having multicolored stripes of varying width extending along the extrusion axis; and
blow molding the parison into a part having the shape of a surface of revolution with the diameter of the part varying along the height of the part.
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11. The method of forming a blow molded plastic container in the form of a surface of revolution having a varying diameter along a height extending between an open top and a closed bottom and having colored stripes of varying widths extending along its height, comprising:
extruding a tubular parison employing a plurality of controllable rate extruders feeding different plastics having their outputs connected to flow passages in an extruding head having the flow passages arranged at equal distances in a circle, with each flow passage being connected to one extruder and adjacent flow passages being connected to other extruders; and
blow molding the parison to form said container.
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14. Apparatus for forming a drinking cup in the form of a surface of revolution having a flat bottom at one end and an open top surrounded by a lip at the other end, with the container varying in diameter along its height and being formed of multiple colored plastics, comprising:
a plurality of controllable rate extruders each feeding a different form of plastic;
a signal generator for the extruders adapted to control their extrusion rates;
an extrusion head having a plurality of extrusion passages arranged in a circle with each passage being connected to the output of one of the extruders, the head being adapted to extrude a tubular parison of varying color; and
blow molding apparatus being adapted to receive the parison and to blow mold said drinking cup.
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This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/592,203 filed Jul. 29, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates to a method and apparatus for extruding thermoplastic parts, and particularly tubular parisons, which have stripes along their length, and to blow molding products, and particularly containers, from such parisons.
In usual prior art extrusion processes a thermoplastic of a single color is fed to an extrusion head to form a part, which may constitute a parison for use in a subsequent blow molding operation. In certain extrusion processes, plastics of two or more different colors have been simultaneously fed into an extrusion head to form parts with stripes extending in the extrusion direction.
In the normal forming of blow molded products, a parison formed of thermoplastics is extruded and then captured in a mold where it is blown into a shape. This method is used to form containers such as bottles and cups.
The present invention is directed toward a method of producing plastic products which include stripes of different composition, particularly of different color, and more particularly to such a method which may produce stripes which vary in width along the length of the product. The method and apparatus of the present invention forms extruded tubes having stripes of varying width along their length which may be used as parisons in a subsequent blow molding operation in which a variety of blow molded products may be formed. The present invention further forms blow molding containers, and particularly cups having one closed end and an opposite open end and variations in diameter along the height of the cup. By coordinating these variations in diameter with various striped patterns produced in the parisons, and particularly stripes of varying width, a variety of cups of unique appearance may be formed.
The method of forming extruded products with stripes of a width which varies along the length of the product, in accordance with the present invention, involves use of two or more extruders fed with thermoplastics of differing characteristics, and particularly different colors. The extruders are of a commercially available type which may be electronically controlled to vary the rate of extrusion. In particular, the control signal for the variable rate extruders comprises a digital signal. In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the digital control signals for the two or more extruders are generated by a computer under control of a computer program which generates complementary, coordinated flow rates from the plurality of extruders. For example, if a tubular product is being extruded, having stripes of two colors along its length, when the flow rate from one of the two extruders is increased, in order to increase the width of the stripes it generates at a point along the length of the product, the widths of the stripes of the alternating color and the flow rate from its extruder must be reduced in a complementary manner so that the total flow rate from the two extruders is relatively constant. This is preferably achieved by generating coordinated control signals for the two extruders from a common computer.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention which will be subsequently disclosed in detail, the extrusion head includes a plurality of orifices with materials of different colors and/or different properties being fed to the orifices, so as to produce a striped product. By varying the flow volumes to the extrusion head orifices in timed relationship with one another, the widths of the sections produced by the differing materials may be adjusted so as to provide a product in which there is an axial variation in the pattern. The flow of the different plastics to the spaced orifices on the extruding head can be achieved both by adjusting the flow rates of the extruders which feed the heads, and through the use of piston-actuated accumulators disposed in the flow lines from the extruder to the tooling head, which augment or decrease the flow as their pistons are energized. The computer program can control the piston-actuated accumulators as well as the extruders to vary the flow of each color to achieve stripes of varying widths along the length of the product.
The method and apparatus of the present invention may also be used to extrude plastic products with stripes transverse to the width of the extrusion axis, alone or in combination with axial stripes, by shutting off the flow from one or more extruders of different colors feeding the extrusion head during the extrusion process and increasing the flow from the other head or heads in a complementary manner. In this manner extruded sections could be formed with solely transverse stripes, with transverse stripes at one axial section combined with longitudinal stripes at other sections, or even with combinations of axial and transverse stripes combined across the width of the product and varied along the length.
When the extruded product is a parison for use in a blow molding operation, which produces a part having a variation in diameter along the axis of the part, a variety of aesthetic appearances may be achieved in the resulting products. Any number of different colored plastics can be introduced into the final product in this manner. Three or more colors might be used to achieve a red, white and blue pattern for use on the Fourth of July. For certain axial sections of the product only a single color may be employed, and the extruders producing the other colors turned off.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention the multicolored blow molded containers constitute drinking cups formed as surfaces of revolution with variations in their diameters along the height of the cups. By combining variations in the color pattern with variations in the cup diameters, a variety of unique designs may be achieved. For example, the extruder feeds may be coordinated with the diameter variations of the molded part so that lines of constant width, i.e. pinstripes, are formed on the finished part. By contrast, if constant flow rates from the extruders were used to produce a parison with constant width stripes and a part of varying diameter was molded from the parison, the color lines on the part would have varying widths.
The plastics fed from the plurality of extruders might be of different composition, rather than or as well as different colors. In one embodiment of the invention one extruder feeds high density polyethylene to produce rigid lines in the finished part while another extruder feeds softer, less rigid, low density polyethylene. The resulting product will have rigid strips interleafed with flexible strips. The materials may or may not be colored differently. If plastics of appropriate rigidity are chosen, the resultant part may have an accordion-like structure.
Other objects, advantages and applications of the present invention will be made apparent by the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment of the invention. The description makes reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
In order to produce this cup, an extruded tubular parison 20 is first formed and then used in a conventional blow molding machine 21 to form the cup 10. The parison has alternating stripes 22 and 24 which produce the stripes 16 and 18 on the cup 10.
The tubular parison 20 is formed by an extruding head 22. As shown in
Alternatively, instead of feeding plastic from an extruder to a single accumulator and then to a plurality of cavities, separate accumulators could be provided for the feed lines to each cavity so that one or more of the cavity feeds could be individually modified to control the widths of the stripes produced by those cavities. In this arrangement it is desirable to provide shut-off valves, controlled by the computer, upstream of each accumulator, to prevent variations in flow generated by one accumulator from affecting flows to the other cavities fed by the same extruder.
The extruder 30 is fed pellets of one color while the extruder 32 is fed pellets of the other color. Alternatively, the plastics may be of the same color but with different characteristics, such as high density and low density polyethylene. In other embodiments of the invention more than two extruders could be provided to generate products with more than two colors or characteristics of stripes. The extruders 30 and 32 may be of the type manufactured by the Davis-Standard Company of Somerville, N.J. which have electronic control of their flow rates, such as model DS-20. In this model, a digital signal fed to the extruder controls its flow rate.
A computer 50 has output control lines to the two extruders 30 and 32 as well as to the two accumulators 38 and 40. It can send signals to these units to control their flow rates to produce stripes of varying and complementary widths along the length of the parison 20 and thus along the height of the resulting cup 10. The computer 50 is provided with a custom program for each different product to be produced by the system. The program includes means for simultaneously generating complementary control signals to the extruder 30 and its associated accumulator 38 and to the extruder 32 and its associated accumulator 40. The complementary signals insure a uniform total flow output despite variations in the individual color flows.