How It’s Done: Injection Molding with QLP


So, we’ve show you a lot about how our awesome
promo items are printed. True. But did you ever wonder where they come from?
How they’re made? And what their humble beginnings were like? Well we wondered. So we headed out to one of our state of the
art production facilities in sunny California to find out. Ya know, daisy dukes, bikinis on top. Shattered dreams. Exactly. Sun kissed skin so hot it’s unforgettable. As it turns out, it all starts with a process
called “erection molding.” “Injection molding.” I’ve heard it both ways. In the beginning, there was nothing but pellets. Lots and lots of tiny polypropylene, copolymer
pellets. The pellets are siphoned out of the barrels
and into a hopper. Here, the colorless virgin pellets are portioned
and ready for the dye process. Pellets are flushed out of the hopper and
mixed with the dye creating the unique color of the promo product. Next, a rotating auger pushes the newly colored
pellets into the heated barrel of the machine, melting them down into a moldable goo. That’s the technical term. Hot, thick goo. The goo is then injected into molds in the
shape of your promo item, and cooled to harden. So for single piece items like let’s say a
frisbee, the process is pretty much done. These gorgeous giveaways are ready to be printed,
distributed, promote their little hearts out for ya’, and eventually spend the rest of
their days tossed around the quad by a couple a’ hippies. For other multi-piece items, such as these
pill containers or bandage dispensers, some assembly is required. The molded items are freed from their plastic
framework known as the runner, and assembled by a technician prior to imprint. Those runners, by the way, those get re-used.
They’re dropped into the grinder of death and crushed back into pellets to be re-heated
and molded again. Which is what’s happening here. Such is the circle of life. Then there’s bottles, which basically get
molded twice. Their first incarnation is a small, hollow
cone. These cones are smaller than a full size bottle,
and thus easier and more compact to store. When an order is placed, the cones are brought
out and it’s time to grow up and make something of themselves. And what better way than a trial by fire. The bottle cones are reheated in order to
make them soft and flexible again. Then they’re squeezed back into a larger mold,
while air is forced up into the center, causing the plastic to expand. Kinda like blowing up a balloon. And viola! A full sized bottle is formed and ready to
promote your brand! And you know what that entails. That gorgeous
logo of yours screen printed, pad printed, or full-color printed right on that newly
minted item. Then it’s a quick swing through the shipping
department, and they’re on their way to your doorstep. There ya have it, folks. Injection molding. Everything you needed to know from beginning
to end. Any questions? Actually Joe, I have a question. No, not you. C’mon man. I’ve got a question. Ask me. Alright, what’s your question? What happens when they wanna make a new colored
product? I mean, don’t they have a bunch of melted polypropylene still left in the barrel
from the last batch? Don’t they have to clean that out or something? Actually, Kurt, they purge out that last batch
of goo from the lines before they start on the new color. Purge it outta the lines. Really? Do we have
any footage of that, maybe? Yup.


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