At NPE2018 battenfeld-cincinnati’s Peter Rieg, sales manager packaging, and Judith Lebic, head of marketing, pose with the STARextruder equipped with Industry 4.0-compatible BCtouch UX control.
During NPE2018, extruder machinery vendor battenfeld-cincinnati USA (McPherson, KS) provided PlasticsToday a booth tour that included the solEX NG single-screw extruder, the conEX NG twin screw conical extruders and the STARextruder, all equipped with the latest Industry 4.0-compatible BCtouch UX control. The extruders represent the company’s latest technology for the infrastructure, construction and packaging divisions, servicing the pipe, profile and sheet-film industries, respectively.
We’ll start with the STARextruder because of battenfeld-cincinnati’s comprehensive experience in sheet extrusion and because this editor’s target market is plastics packaging.
All three models in the STARextruder line combine a single screw for plastification with a planetary roller section for efficient degassing, making them eminently suitable for PET processing into amorphous polyester (APET) sheet. The extruders can also process polypropylene, polystyrene or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) without screw changes.
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The midrange throughput Model 120-40 capable of processing 1,760 to 2,200 lb/hr was on display in the booth. It’s capable of extruding sheet from 12- to 40-mil thick, depending on customer preference.
STARextruders’ improved degassing at 5 to 10 millibars means more thorough removal of water to avoid IV loss and improve the overall quality and properties of APET sheet, according to Peter Rieg, sales manager packaging. Those degassing levels also reduced drying times to yield energy savings.
The use of PET as a raw material for APET production is on the increase for high-grade food packaging production, according to Rieg, a fact that’s well-timed considering that customers using the company’s STARextruder received news of a free upgrade announced in November 2017. That’s when battenfeld-cincinnati was notified of U.S. FDA nonobjection for food contact for APET processed by the extruders using bottle flake, i.e. recycled PET. That meant that all of battenfeld-cincinnati’s approximately 70 STARextruders in operation since 2004 are cleared for direct food contact using APET made from rPET. That’s especially important for battenfeld-cincinnati’s customers’ customers that include, for example, quick-serve restaurant food chains McDonald’s and KFC, Rieg notes.
Rieg estimates that in general 90% of APET sheet is used in thermoforming applications. That is primarily for sandwich trays and cups in U.S. markets and plastic clamshell containers in Europe, Rieg informs PlasticsToday; the remaining roughly 10% is used for industrial blister packaging.
One trend he’s seen is that markets have become more complex reflecting the growth in personalization that’s led to shorter production runs for customers.
New control system compatible with Industry 4.0 applications
battenfeld-cincinnati’s extruders are equipped with the BCtouch UX (“user experience”) control system introduced in 2016 that presents an intuitive operation of the user interface via a graphic depiction of the line and its components rather than boxy, simplified flow-chart graphics.
It’s simply a more realistic and useful human-machine interface (HMI) setup than was previously available.
The touchscreen display function is modeled on well-known user interface designs from mobile phones and tablets. The control comes with a 21.5-inch landscape format with swivel-and-tilt functionality as well as multiple language options and individualized control surfaces for each operator.
The four main functions that BCtouch UX offers to customers relative to Industry 4.0 are:
- OPC UA functionality: this refers to a standardized interface that allows customers to check the data of battenfeld- cincinnati machines on other providers’ visualization systems (provided these are also equipped with an OPC UA function). This enables easier synchronization and an over- view over the complete production hall, and therefore better production planning and maintenance.
- Preventive maintenance: this helps the operator to plan the maintenance schedule and/or spare parts orders due to a better control of drive and oil quality.
- Uncomplicated remote maintenance option for quicker service.
- Simulation of a running line for training purposes.
NG extruder series save energy and improve performance
The solEX NG is a single screw extruder for high-performance applications that offers up to 20% higher outputs, up to 15% lower energy costs and approximately 15-20°F lower melt temperatures. It is well suited for the production of polyolefin (PO) pipe from micro ducts to large diameters of 2.6 m. The booth machine will be shipped to a customer after final outfitting by battenfeld-cincinnati.
The conEX NG is a conical twin screw extruder with a flexible design that covers a wide range of outputs for PVC pipe, profile and sheet extrusion. Its innovative design allows for energy savings of up to 20%. The mechanical design platform offers many configurations for primary or coextrusion applications.