Reducing labor highlights extrusion developments

Cutting labor costs ranks high on processors' wish lists, and at NPE many profile extrusion machine developments tackled filling such wishes.

"People want to run faster lines integrated with all downstream equipment, and try to get away from dependency on skilled operators," notes Richard Brookes, marketing manager at Boston Matthews (Norwood, NJ; Diglis, Worcester, England). The firm highlighted all its systems, since many North American processors still know it primarily as a cutter and puller manufacturer.

Merritt Extruder (Hamden, CT) highlighted its new sales and marketing partnership with downstream systems manufacturer Eagle Mfg. Corp. (Sterling Heights, MI), in which the two will provide turnkey lines. Eagle makes equipment to automate punching, sawing, and other downstream operations in profile lines.

The market for no-frills, low-cost, rapidly delivered extruders has proven itself and at NPE 2003 Crompton, Davis-Standard, Akron Milacron, American Maplan, and Krauss-Maffei all displayed such machines.

Davis-Standard's (Pawcatuck, CT) Super Blue extruders are available in four models-50, 65, 75 and 90 mm-all 24:1 L/D and ready to ship two weeks from order date. Explains Jim Murphy, business director, "Our customers are being pushed to get product to market faster, but they are not able to plan any further ahead-that's why we developed these." The machines come with a three-year warranty and "pricing is very competitive," he says. Murphy names no price, but comparable machines from European competitors sell for $30,000 to $45,000.

For the first time in North America, Krauss-Maffei (Florence, KY; Munich, Germany) displayed its XS off-the-shelf extruder, as well as its Quick Switch technology for switching pipe diameter without stopping processing. It also highlighted its expanded range of 36-inch parallel twin-screw extruders, which includes the KMD 133-36 WPC for wood plastic compounds.

Akron Milacron (Batavia, OH) did not display machines, but highlighted, via video, new extruders such as the S-PAK single-screw line, with delivery from order date in four to six weeks. These are available with screws of .75 to 1.75 inches and, like the other off-the-shelf units, are marketed to the custom-profile, medical tubing, and wire and cable markets. All of these also are suitable for use in co-extrusion lines. The S-PAK machines can be fitted with one of four gear boxes of varying torque ratings, depending on output required.

The AMC Compact line displayed by American Maplan (McPherson, KS) is a version of the MiniBEX machine made by sister firm Battenfeld Extrusionstechnik (Bad Oeynhausen, Germany). Maplan also highlighted its larger lines, and officials at Maplan and elsewhere say the Americas market for PVC profiles and pipe has shown solid growth in the past year. Davis-Standard displayed its GC-61 61-mm conical twin-screw machine for these applications, and says it is developing feedscrews specifically for processing vinyl vertical blind compounds.

CPM Milacron (Batavia, OH) introduced its TP parallel twin-screw extruder range, large machines (93, 115, 140, or 172 mm) for rigid PVC pipe or profile processing, or for flexible PVC compounding. L/D is either 26:1 or 33:1 for all sizes, with output of up to 1800 kg/hour of rigid PVC profile and 2275 kg/hour for rigid PVC pipe and siding.

Also new to Davis-Standard is the option to make extruders with vertical gearboxes, rather than the firm's traditional horizontals. Murphy notes that vertical gearboxes decrease line widths, accommodating more lines into narrow facilities. The firm is also developing wireless monitoring systems for extruders with Adaptive Instruments, a wireless technology firm.

The HPM Div. (Mt. Gilead, OH) of Taylor's Industrial Services displayed its Prodex single-screw extruder, available with screw outer diameters from 1.5 to 3.5 inches and up to 30:1 L/D. HPM has upgraded to Siemens Siject touchscreen controls with no price hike for processors.

Matthew Defosse [email protected]

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