Specialized Plastic Molding With Tight Tolerances on Premium Baby Bottles
Innovations are inspired by all sorts of unlikely events. This story begins with a screaming baby and a sleep-deprived dad.
The dad in this story happened to be a family physician in the Midwest, who discovered that air bubbles in his son’s baby bottles were causing the child great distress. So the good doctor sought to design a better baby bottle that would vent gas away from the milk, helping to reduce infant gas, colic, and spit-up.
Decades later, this brand of baby bottles is manufactured at scale and is widely recommended by parents and doctors across the country. Touted by publications and sworn to by moms everywhere, protecting the brand’s reputation for quality was paramount. So when one of the company’s contract manufacturing suppliers was consistently underperforming, they began shopping around for a new partner.
Setting Up for Success
To produce a high-quality plastic bottle, we decided to adopt injection stretch blow molding in our facility, a capability that was new to LMC Industries. After selecting a piece of equipment to perform the process, we sent several of our technicians to Japan for three weeks to learn how to operate it.
The threaded cap for the bottles requires a 32-cavity mold with a hot runner system inside. Hot runner systems require a significant tooling investment and they are used to eliminate waste from the manufacturing process. While a regular runner system inside a mold would leave a scrap tree behind, the hot runner system produces parts without any scrap. For food-grade applications, the plastic resin cannot be reground and used in a subsequent process, which makes adopting hot runner systems ideal to make manufacturing cost-effective and efficient.
The bottle system also features a rubber vent, which uses a 16-cavity mold with complex cams used to produce holes in the part running perpendicular to each other.
Ensuring Quality and Smooth Logistics
Flash is a common enemy in plastic injection molding. The term “flash” refers to extra material that remains where two sides of the mold intersect. Different applications will tolerate varying amounts of flash, but for safety, food-grade applications often specify that no flash can remain on products—especially when they are used for infant feeding purposes.
These parts also required exacting tolerances to ensure the finished product would fit together perfectly and prevent liquid from leaking out—because after all, babies don’t know that you’re not supposed to cry over spilled milk.
During production, our team inspects bottle parts continuously throughout every run by visually examining them using a magnifying glass, in addition to other quality assurance operations.
Finally, we help make logistics easier for this customer by kitting items together in different combinations before the products leave our facility. We package parts in different quantities and color combinations to help prepare the bottles for sale to the end consumer.
Happy Customer, Happy Feeding
The production of these high-quality bottles continues to run smoothly in our facility and our customer’s business continues to grow. The idea that what we do both supports American manufacturing and helps make new parents’ lives a little easier make us happy to continue to go above and beyond to serve our customer.
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