Blow Molds are Back! Who said they were dead??? By Charles Enos The blow mold industry is starting to return and the interest in the inflat-able market is going the way the blow molds did in the early 90’s. Quality of the new inflatables is declining and materials are get-ting thinner and cheaper. Blow mold produc-tion is coming back with the return of Union Cado and the returned interest from Prime Plastics. Collectors are finding that blow molds are cheaper to buy, last longer and a joy to trade with friends. I acquired my interested in blow molds in the mid 1960’s as I was growing up and would travel around with my parents and see them displayed in neighbors yards. I always knew that when I could afford to buy them I would have them in my display. I bought my first three characters in 1989 from Kmart and now have over 500 in my display and another 150 new and used ones I trade with others in our area. The fun of collecting is the thrill of acquiring that next illusive blow mold for your collection. I have two traditions I try to follow each year: always change the layout of our display and hold the annual Pacific NW holiday decoration and blow mold swap meet at my house. Last year we started having classes on identifying the correct manufacture, dates of manufacture, conducting repairs and anchoring down your display. This year I went to Biloxi, Mississippi for Christmas Expo to teach two classes on blow molds: blow 46 PlanetChristmas | September 2014 molding 101 - history of the blow molds and another class on blow mold preservation and repairs. The 2014 Christmas Expo event was great, hats off to the promoters and planners. Some Blow Mold History Let’s step back in time and look at the blow mold manufacturing history. In 1937 Enoch Fergren and William Kopitke developed the first blow mold machine which was designed using the same principles used for blowing glass Christmas ornaments. In 1938 they sold the license and machine to the Hartford Empire Company who perfected the process and started mass producing plastic bottles in 1939. (No con-nection has ever been found to tie the Empire Blow Mold Co. to the Hartford Empire Co.) The first use of the blow mold process for Christmas character manufacture started in 1962 by Beco. The blow mold process was cheaper to perform because less material had to be trimmed from the finished product and could be re-used. The total process was faster than the old injection molding process and the equipment was easier to clean after use. It also helped that plastic was cheaper to purchase than the polymers that were used in the earlier injection molding pro-cesses used by Heller, Mold Craft and Artistic. When Heller Industries burned to the ground in 1966 it opened the doors for the blow mold-ing industry to take off.
PlanetChristmas Magazine September 2014
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