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Extrusion Technology in Spotlight at Plastec West

Conair and Guill Tool are among dozens of companies showcasing their newest extrusion-related innovations at the advanced manufacturing event.

Norbert Sparrow

January 12, 2023

3 Min Read
clear extruded tubing
Image courtesy of Guill Tool

Dozens of suppliers of extrusion equipment, products, and services, much of it intended for medical applications, will be exhibiting at the co-located Plastec West and Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West event in Anaheim, CA, next month.

The annual trade show and conference, which also includes co-locates dedicated to packaging, automation, and product design and manufacturing, is described as the premier advanced manufacturing event in North America, attracting more than 1,400 exhibitors and some 13,000 attendees. The show comes to the Anaheim Convention Center on Feb. 7 to 9, 2023. It is produced by Informa Markets – Engineering, which also publishes PlasticsToday.

Some of the new products and technologies that will be presented on the show floor and select conference sessions will be profiled in the coming weeks. For now, here is a sneak preview of what extrusion technology providers Conair Group and Guill Tool have in store.

Extrusion line processes medical-grade polycarbonate tubing

Conair Group and partner companies Davis-Standard and Zumbach Electronics are teaming up to demo the extrusion of medical-grade, quarter-inch polycarbonate (PC) tubing in booth 3911 at the show. The extrusion line, designed to continuously cut tubing into 5-in. pipettes without requiring secondary cleaning or finishing operations, will include four new Conair products making their operational debut.

MoistureMinder system for extrusion operations

The new Moisture Minder from Conair monitors moisture content of resin as it moves through the extrusion process.

The PC material will be pre-conditioned using a Conair dX25 Carousel Plus desiccant dryer. It is equipped with a 7-in. DC-B color touchscreen control that regulates drying setpoints and resin temperature with an in-hopper drying monitor. The control also automatically regulates material movement through the dryer to the extruder. The material passes through Conair’s new in-line Moisture Minder, which reads the moisture content of moving resin, enabling rapid identification and notification of out-of-spec moisture levels.  

The medical-grade PC will be processed in a Davis-Standard 1.25-in. HPE horizontal extruder. From there, the PC melt will pass through sizing inserts as it enters a water-filled, non-contact calibration head mounted at the front end of a Conair MedLine MedVac 235 vacuum sizing tank. Temperature-controlled water for the calibration head and vacuum tank is delivered by two touchscreen-controlled auxiliaries also making their operational debut: a Conair TW-T Series Thermolator temperature control unit and Conair EP-1A Series two-ton, air-cooled chiller.  

Ultrasonic wall-thickness gauges from Zumbach measure the tubing’s outer diameter (OD) and wall thickness, which are used to calculate the inner diameter, the most critical dimension for medical fluid delivery. A Zumbach 3-axis OD laser gauge uses patent-pending technology to precisely calculate and display the concentricity of the tube profile while providing feedback used for closed-loop dimensional control. Data from the ultrasonic and laser gauges are used to regulate puller speed and cooling-tank vacuum to maintain critical tube dimensions over the production run.

Reciprocating head automatically changes tubing profile in single extrusion run

Guill Tool, at booth 1736, will showcase a reciprocating head that, the company says, has proven especially popular with customers. By replacing the traditional tip and die assembly with a linear reciprocating head, the tube’s profile can be changed within a given length. This process is repeated interruption-free throughout a single extrusion run. Cutting capability, in association with the extrusion speed, cuts the finished product to length, said Guill.

The technology improves product quality while reducing cost, according to the company. Only one extrusion run is needed as opposed to multiple runs with tooling changes and manual assembly to connect different tubing shapes.

Guill’s new reciprocating head also eliminates in-process inventory because there is no need to store various tubing shapes and connectors needed for assembly.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree. Reach him at [email protected].

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