Frequently Asked Questions
How does blow molding differ from other types of plastics molding?
In its most basic form, blow molding starts with a “tube” of heated, soft thermoplastic material that is pushed through a circular die of a diameter matched to the size of the final molded product. This tube of plastic, called a “parison,” is extruded under pressure through the die downward to come to a stop between the two halves of the metallic mold that will form the product. The mold halves are brought together with the parison between them. Air is blown into the parison, forcing the softened plastic material out against the surfaces of the mold. The molded part is then cooled and ejected from the mold. Blow molding always makes a hollow part – the most obvious product made by blow molding are plastic bottles. Our cases are like bottles pressed almost together, leaving an air gap that provides cushioning between the inner and outer walls of the case. Other types of molding used with plastics include injection molding, in which the plastic material is injected under high pressure into the space between two mold halves, forming a solid part with no “air gap” in it. An example of an injection molded part would be a plastic fork or spoon.
What are the advantages of blow molded products?
In general, the molds for blow molding are less expensive than those for injection molding because they can be made of aluminum which is easier to machine than steel. Because of the higher pressures and generally higher volume of injection molding, those molds are usually more expensive.
You moved to a new facility recently. What does that new facility provide?
We moved to the new facility, in Riverside, CA, in September of 2013. With 58,000 square feet and additional machinery, the facility allows us to increase our production capacity by nearly 2.5 times. Western Case is positioned to be one of the leading blow molding companies in the U.S. The new capacity allows us to increase our volume of carrying cases, and to expand into other blow molded products.
How long have you been making carrying cases?
We have been making blow molded carrying cases since our founding in 1978. We have one of the most respected carrying case lines in the market with many different types available, from single-piece, integral hinge and latch cases to complex cases with metallic hinges and latches. We have lines of low-cost stock cases with interior soft foam, and semi-custom cases in which the interior of the case is molded to the contour required to accommodate the customer’s product. Then we provide custom cases in which both the exterior and exterior are designed to the customer’s specification, allowing maximum product protection as well as product branding opportunity.
What types of products use your carrying cases?
You name it, we’ve packaged it. We have made cases for medical instruments, musical instruments, guns, and tools.
Do you make products other than carrying cases?
Yes. We can and do make many other types of products – if the product is hollow, it can very likely be made by blow molding. Examples include automotive duct work for heating and air conditioning, containers, tanks, watering cans, toys and sporting goods, wheels, stadium seats, and many others.
What is “Lean Manufacturing”?
Western Case follows a Lean Manufacturing approach to maintain high quality while keeping costs in line. We strive to create simple and repeatable processes by identifying best practices everywhere possible. We believe that standardized work procedures bring consistency and better quality to our processes. In addition, as processes are properly balanced, best practices are established and documented and can become the basis of continuous improvement.
Do you provide design services?
Yes. We have a staff of designers who design our stock and custom carrying cases and other products as requested. For certain industrial products such as automotive HVAC ducts, the design is done by the customer’s staff, because the part must fit within a specific environment.
How many Blow Molding machines to you have?
We have a range of machinery that allows us to manufacture parts and products that weight from less than 5 lb up to well over 20 lb. We recently added 6 single and multiple head blow molders, which allows us to produce multiple parts per machine cycle. In total, we have 12 blow molding machines, plus supporting equipment such as two 90,000 lb silos for resin storage.