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Extrusion-Related Nuggets from ANTEC’s Technical Conference Goldmine

Image: Kovalenko I/Adobe Stock mine
Allan Griff mines the relevant presentations to help extrusion professionals get the most out of the conference with the least time investment.

“The currency of love is time.” This is a line from a poem, but it seems that time is the currency of most everything else, too. We can accumulate money and goods and power, but all of us have the same 24 hours a day. Some can afford more help, but then they become more dependent. So how we manage our time controls how we manage our lives.

I bring this up now because this month’s column is about the Annual Technical Conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE’s ANTEC), a virtual event held this year between May 5 and 21. It will be half over, or maybe completely over, by the time you read this, but all is not lost. In fact, very little is lost, as my aim is to help you get the most out of what happened with the least investment of time.

I selected a few presentations and topics, as highlighted below, with authors and affiliations so you can contact them to get the latest on their work. The “latest” may be important and different, as the talks had to be prepared in advance. Also, direct communication is private and will depend on who you are, while a general talk is the same for all.

Last but not least, although more time-consuming, you can hear/see recordings of the ANTEC presentations at your convenience, but you’ll have to register for the conference at the SPE site.

ANTEC's extrusion-related highlights

The environment and health, to the surprise of no one, was everywhere. Bio this and green that, and a need to appear “sustainable” without quantitative definition. The talks reflected the industry’s desire to look responsible to consumers and investors, and elected reps, who do what they were elected to do — express the will of their voters. Unfortunately, the majority not only lack scientific education but resist it, preferring the freedom to follow their own beliefs, including the need to demonize plastics. Among ANTEC events, I note the panel with film makers Burt (Sealed Air), Peyer (Amcor), and Casey (TC), moderated by Conor Carlin (Illig).

As my regular readers know, I stress the nontoxic and non-pollutant nature of plastics, and am disappointed to see us avoid that issue even as it supports our industry. This stems from public resistance and discomfort with the laws of nature — science, chemistry — as science challenges the need to believe in the un-explainable that starts in our infancy and never quite dissipates. Education isn’t enough.

One light in that tunnel was a presentation by Narayan Ramesh (Dow) titled, “Framework for Sustainability, Circularity & Recycling.” These green buzzwords need definition, as they sometimes are competitive — for example, when degradability makes a product less useful or maybe even useless as recyclate, or whether plant origin really makes an environmental difference.

Allan Griff will lead a session devoted to plastics extrusion at the forthcoming Virtual Engineering Days event. During "The 10 Key Principles of Extrusion" session on June 15, hosted by PlasticsToday, Griff will cover the mechanical and thermal principles of extrusion, manufacturing costs, and the measurement of critical variables in relation to production needs and product performance. The virtual three-day event includes more than 30 educational sessions, keynotes from industry luminaries, and dozens of exhibitors spanning the packaging, plastics, automation, and design supply chain. Registration is free.

Additive (3D) manufacturing is related to extrusion, as much of it uses extruded filaments to produce computer-guided products. The economics are very different from usual product extrusion — sheet, pipe, film, pellets. It isn’t all teeny-weeny stuff, either: Sunil Bhandari (Eaton) spoke on 3D-printed products for culvert repair.

PLA is the most popular of many biobased and usually bioactive resins. Akhilesh Pal (Guelph U in Canada) studied mixtures with cellulose, Olivier Nguon (Solis) reported on sorbitol nucleators, and Terri Chen (TA Instruments) dealt with troubleshooting.

Resins other than PLA: Depolymerization of PET (Patel, U Mass Lowell) and PS (Schaefer, Hornschuh) remind us that chemical recycling is still active and attracting investment, despite collection and separation issues and energy losses, less serious with pyrolysis than full back-to-monomer.

Extrusion machinery: Not much on that topic, but a few sessions were worthwhile. Robert Barr (Barr) has a new melting concept, Mirco Janssen (U Duisburg/Essen) studied a free-rotating mixing sleeve around the screw, and Lars Kraus (IKV Aachen) reported on a dual-lip air ring. Mahesh Gupta (Plastic Flow) simulated flow of UPVC in a bilayer (co-ex) die.

Additives (chemicals added to the resins): Carbon black and HALS light stabilizers by Alhindi (Aliarh U, India); processing aids for recycling by de Santi (Green Mantra) and Amit Desai (Kraton); and antibacterials by Gang Sun (UC Davis). See also PLA above.

Processing: Use of nitrogen to prevent oxidation of film feed, Mark Spalding (Dow). Also, Olivier Catherine (Cloeren) delivered a talk on rheology, presumably in flat dies; Sundong Kim (U Toronto) on foam PP with high melt viscosity; and Alex Jordan (U Wisconsin) on improving PP thermoforming performance by layering it with PE. Extrusion/blow molding of polyolefin PCR was covered by Ian Query (Baerlocher), who also knows PVC.  

Others of note: Degrading cable insulation by Pallaka (Texas Tech), surface degradation of recycled ocean plastics by John Misasi (W Washington U), and green compounding by Adam Dreiblatt (CPM).


Allan GriffAbout the author

Allan Griff is a veteran extrusion engineer, starting out in tech service for a major resin supplier, and working on his own now for many years as a consultant, expert witness in law cases, and especially as an educator via webinars and seminars, both public and in-house, and now in his new audiovisual version. He wrote Plastics Extrusion Technology, the first practical extrusion book in the United States, as well as the Plastics Extrusion Operating Manual, updated almost every year, and available in Spanish and French as well as English. Find out more on his website,, or e-mail him at [email protected].

No live seminars planned in the near future, or maybe ever, as his virtual audiovisual seminar is even better than live, says Griff. No travel, no waiting for live dates, same PowerPoint slides but with audio explanations and a written guide. Watch at your own pace; group attendance is offered for a single price, including the right to ask questions and get thorough answers by e-mail. Call 301/758-7788 or e-mail [email protected] for more info.

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