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September 1, 2003

15 Min Read

The American Maplan Compact profile extrusion line is for applications such as trim moldings, cable ducts, and cornering strips for the construction, furniture, and industrial equipment sectors.

Berstorff?s new process control panel, along with an improved heating and cooling system, is said to make better overall extrusion control possible.

Better gauge tolerance to improve product quality and reduce waste was certainly a highlight of NPE?s extrusion exhibitors. Processors with frequent product changes should also be able to run their plants more efficiently with some of the new systems introduced in Chicago, as setup and changeover are becoming easier than ever.

American Maplan?s new extrusion equipment for pipe, profile, and siding included a complete integrated line and a new vacuum calibrator and dual spider die for pipe. The AMC Compact is a complete extrusion line for small profiles, relieving the processor of the need to match and integrate line components. Standardization allows a system price that can be up to 30 percent less than buying individual components.

The company?s new RD2-10 Dual Spider reduces pressure drop significantly compared to older designs. The dual spider design virtually eliminates the continuous spider marks left by older dies, and yields better mechanical properties in the finished product. The RD2-10 produces pipe and fence products ranging from 60 to 280 mm (2.3 to 11 inches).

Berstorff GmbH showed the new ZE-UTX twin-screw extruder with rectangular barrel housings. The ZE generation, represented at NPE by a ZE 60 UTX, is compact and easy to operate and service. It has a new barrel connection system, larger side-feed openings than its predecessors, degassing vents, and a new temperature control system. In addition, Berstorff has integrated the auxiliary units into the newly designed base frame.

The ZE range has the new Berstorff process control system as standard equipment. The D/d ratio of 1.46 applies also to the ZE-A-UTX; the ZE-R-UTX Series has a ratio of 1.74. A new heating and cooling system improves heat transfer and heating and cooling capacity for better process control. Cartridge heaters warm barrel temperatures up to 450C while the arrangement of the cooling drillings provides genuine contra-flow cooling.

Brampton Engineering introduced I-Flex, a new family of gauge control systems. The I-Flex AutoGauge control lip is for low blowup ratios of 1:1 to 1:1.5. Based on sensor readings, Brampton?s proprietary software tells the mechanical actuators in the die lip to physically distort the die lip (push or pull) at any one of the actuator locations. There is an average of one actuator per inch (25 mm) of die lip circumference.

The I-Flex family also includes the next-generation I-Flex AutoGauge Air Ring. Using newly developed Brampton software, the I-Flex AutoGauge Air Ring improves overall gauge on both monolayer and multilayer blown film (with or without interior bubble cooling). The I-Flex AutoGauge Air Ring typically reduces film gauge variation to at least half of its original value. Greater improvements have been seen depending on film thickness and structure.

The I-Flex AutoGauge control lip from Brampton Engineering is for blowup ratios from 1:1 to 1:1.5. Proprietary software monitors gauge dimensions and modifies them to maintain accuracy.

Krauss-Maffei?s QuickSwitch dimension change on the fly for pipe extrusion allows pipe diameter to be changed on a running system. When pipe is ordered in small volumes, producers face the problem of frequent, cost-intensive dimension changes. The line must be halted, the pipehead and downstream units dismantled and cleaned, and their replacements installed and adjusted. Then the line must run up again to full production. QuickSwitch enables a dimension change in a matter of minutes without stopping the line. Producers can meet tight delivery schedules without extensive stockpiling of different pipe dimensions.

Krauss-Maffei?s new range of XS extruders are targeted primarily at standard extrusion applications at the lower end of the output range in pipe and profile extrusion. They offer full-line integration with the extruder control system capable of controlling downstream equipment. Application areas include the production of technical profiles for the automotive, furniture, and lighting industries. Coextrusion of multilayer pipe is another target application.

Davis-Standard exhibited the new WesJet AutoPro blown film air ring that improves air ring control, gauge tolerance, and yield. Also shown was Davis-Standard?s PE die and ProPak coextrusion die. PE dies are best suited for LDPE and LLDPE monolayer applications and can be offered in very short delivery times. The ProPak features a unique side-feed section for high outputs and complicated structures of five to 11 layers.

In control systems, Davis-Standard and Adaptive Instruments demonstrated what they reported to be the plastic extrusion industry?s first wireless monitoring system. The Accutech wireless technology monitors melt temperature, pressure, screw rpm, and motor load from remote or hard-to-access locations.

The TSP screenchanger from Conair is hydraulically actuated and targeted at especially pressure-sensitive applications.

Guill Tool?s FlexiSpiral die is intended for pipe, wire, cable, hose, and tube manufacturing. It reportedly improves concentricity, thereby reducing material usage.
Davis-Standard?s WesJet AutoPro air ring was shown with the latest design of forming cone for LLDPE monolayer films. It reportedly is capable of sustaining high production rates because it does not require heat.

According to Angelo Firenze, Adaptive Instruments? president and CEO, the Accutech system is an extension of core wireless technology that is applicable to industrial applications.

The system has a monitoring range of up to 3000 ft and is equipped with a fully integrated sensor and battery-powered field transceivers; a base radio transceiver with RS232, RS485 (digital), Ethernet, and/or 4-20-mA (analog) output; software for data management and exception reporting; and full assimilation to legacy systems. The components are individually calibrated between ?40 and 185F and all instruments are FCC certified for license-free use. Reported advantages include low installation cost, system portability, unlimited access to processing data, multiple input capacities, a flexible base radio output, low power consumption with five-year battery life, two-way signal integrity, and offsite monitoring capability. Each base radio transceiver can communicate with as many as 250 field units/sec.

Randcastle Extrusion Systems unveiled its Taskmaster. This 1-inch horizontal extruder has four Recirculator compounding elements, novel feeding technology, and triple venting in a 36:1 extruder. Over the next few months, various examples of the Taskmaster?s capabilities will be documented, according to president Keith Luker.

Maag Pump Systems introduced a new discharge gear pump capable of increasing throughput. The compact construction of the Vacorex MR gear pump allows for an easy retrofit of earlier Maag discharge Vacorex pump models. The main housing dimensions remain the same as Maag?s older Vacorex generation III, IV, and V pumps, and the inlet and outlet flange dimensions and the height of the pump are also identical to previous models to ease installation. Only minor adjustments such as position of the drive unit heating connections are necessary. A Vacorex MR discharge pump reportedly can increase plant capacity by more than 30 percent.

Conair displayed for the first time a dual-cylinder product clamp and optional servodrive that increase the accuracy of its new CTS traveling cutoff saw. A direct-drive saw-arbor motor gives the unit increased cutting torque. The new saw comes in three sizes to handle pipe diameters of 5, 7, and 9 inches, and profiles as large as 9 by 17 inches.

The saw uses two positive-displacement air cylinders to deliver direct, positive clamping on pipes or profiles for optimal table synchronization during the cutting cycle. Travel of 24 inches helps ensure cut accuracy. A servo table drive with a planetary gear reducer is optional.

Conair also introduced a line of custom-built screenchangers to the U.S. market. It exhibited a triple-slide-plate model. The Model TSP screenchanger is hydraulically actuated and aimed at especially pressure-sensitive extrusion applications. Because melt is always flowing through just two of the three screen packs, changing the screen in the third plate has virtually no effect on pressure or material flow.

The FlexiSpiral line of crossheads and inline dies from Guill Tool targets pipe, wire, cable, and hose and tube manufacturing. Guill Tool says that a key benefit of the new technology is that it improves concentricity or product roundness, reducing material usage as compared to other types of extrusion tooling.

The Contour Die from EDI has a tapered shape designed to yield uniform die body deflection while incorporating a manifold that maximizes flow streamlining. To offset internal pressure at the center of the die, the die body is heaviest there and lightest at either end. The die is shown here pointing downward.

The FlexiSpiral Series uses a FeatherTouch adjustment, a cartridge-style ball assembly that doesn?t require the loosening of retaining screws to make adjustments in the die holder. A positive seal eliminates leakage between deflectors. The FlexiSpiral tooling has a one- to five-layer capability with multifeed port locations to allow for variations in extruder layout.

Other new products from Guill Tool include the Series 400 line of corrugating extrusion heads for general, automotive, and medical applications; Equaflow extrusion tooling for wood and polymer manufacturers; the Series 900 inline tubing dies for general, food service, automotive, industrial, telecom, and medical applications in polymer or rubber; and rotary/oscillating crossheads for aerospace, automotive, medical, and other applications. The Syncroflow Series is designed for applications in which rubber and plastic materials are extruded simultaneously and in the same tooling.

Eurotherm has incorporated advanced drive control into its Extrusion Master control system. Complex extrusion lines are usually started up with the gear pump drive in closed loop pressure control and the extruder drive in open loop control. The melt pump in this startup phase is typically in a direct acting loop with the input being the melt pump?s inlet pressure. As the user increases the extruder drive speed, the melt pump drive automatically increases its speed.

In this scenario, once the extrusion line nears the desired speed, the user typically wants the melt pump drive to change into open loop mode and the extruder drive to go into a reverse-acting, closed loop control with its outlet pressure as the controlled variable. This is the run mode. The extrusion line speed setting controls the melt pump drive speed and all the downstream line drives. In the run mode, the extruder drive automatically tracks the melt pump speed as it changes the extruder head pressure.

The new Coperion Megavolume corotating twin-screw extruder is intended for compounding low-bulk-density feedstock.

Gneuss presented its integrated system for processing PET bottle flake for twin-screw extruders. The process can yield such end products as film, sheet, fiber, and filament.

During startup and shutdown, all speed changes need to be slowly ramped to their desired settings, without any bumps that could cause the extruder or melt pump drive to surge. The master line speed setting also should be linked through a ratio setting to all the downstream drives.

The programming time to create this complex startup and shutdown process has been reduced in the Eurotherm Extrusion Master control system. After the desired speeds and pressures are entered, the control system automatically performs this process.

Coperion featured the ZSK Megavolume. This new technology is an option to the Megacompounder for processes that require the most feed volume in the screw channels. The Megavolume uses closely intermeshing, corotating screws. By increasing the flight depth of the twin screws, the free volume increases by 40 percent compared to the ZSK Megacompounder. The maximum screw speed was increased to 1800 rpm.

The result of the greater free volume and higher screw speed is a much increased rate potential. Typical materials that benefit from the Megavolume concept are highly filled polymers such as PE/PP with talc, CaCo3, or wood composites. The Megavolume is available in sizes 34 to 125 mm.

American Kuhne?s new Aktive touch-screen extrusion process control reportedly provides ease of use and functions previously limited to control systems costing up to three times as much. A single location is used for setting and adjusting controls, intuitive process adjustment is done via a graphic touch screen, and an unlimited number of recipes can be created with computer assistance and then stored. Control of drives is coordinated?providing real-time monitoring of multiple process variables, trending, and alarm logging.

The control was developed primarily for pipe, custom profile, and tubing manufacturers that need automation information to reduce scrap and improve manufacturing efficiency. Also, a new Turbo-Air cooling system reportedly provides heat removal efficiency approaching that of water cooling. It was on display at NPE 2003 on a 6-inch extruder.

NDC Infrared Engineering showed this Accutrak scanner, which is particularly suited for use with film and coating applications. The unit handles web widths up to 10m.

Extrusion Dies Industries LLC (EDI) introduced a new type of flat extrusion die that differs in shape from previous die designs and enables film, sheet, and coating processors to eliminate the longstanding trade-off between gauge uniformity and streamlined melt flow. The Contour Die has a tapered shape instead of the standard block-like configuration. The new system exhibits die-body deflection that is uniform across the width of the die, yet avoids the sacrifice of melt-flow streamlining incurred by ?constant-deflection? dies.

Reported benefits include rapid achievement of target gauge, low levels of polymer degradation, rapid purges, and low levels of scrap.

For the first time, Gneuss presented its new concept for processing PET bottle flake?an integrated screenchanger/pump/filter combination that was on display at the show. The fully automatic technology makes repelletizing unnecessary and allows direct recycling, i.e., the direct manufacture of reclaim into high-quality final products. End products such as film and sheet, fiber, and filament can be manufactured from PET bottle flakes with optimum melt quality and purity under constant process conditions. Gneuss offers extruders for the system as well as the filters.

PTi introduced its Video-Gap chrome roll nip monitor system, which provides remote real-time viewing of the sheet die lip and chrome roll nip repoint regions. Operators routinely examine this region of the line in order to see how the extrudate is behaving as it exits the sheet die lips and enters the primary chrome roll nip region; now they no longer need to be at the side of the machine.

From a digital camera mounted on each side of the primary chrome roll nip area, a video signal is relayed to the viewing monitor for display. Each digital camera features a high-intensity light to ensure that the viewing area is properly illuminated.

Observations about the uniformity of the bank of polymer as well as how the curtain of polymer appears exiting the sheet die can be noted in the system. This information is beneficial when determining if equipment adjustments need to be performed.

PTi also announced the development of its Auto-Ramp module that is used as a process control tool to coordinate the ramp-up functions of a complex extrusion system. Auto-Ramp coordinates bring an extrusion system up to a desired level of production. A complex seven-layer sheet coextrusion line may possess as many as 14 different drive motors. The Auto-Ramp module coordinates each of the drives such that the ramp-up of the production system is balanced, harmonized, and occurs relatively quickly.

A first for a U.S. show, Windmoeller & Hoelscher?s Varex three-layer blown film extrusion line was shown equipped with a newly designed Multinip oscillating hauloff with a Nostic bubble collapsing unit.

Wayne introduced the new counter-rotating conical twin-screw extruder in its Yellow Jacket line. The new extruder was developed for processing powdered PVC and HDPE as well as other plastics for laboratory research and small production applications. The conical screw dimensions are 38-mm feed/24-mm discharge, and the barrel is constructed in three segments, including one for vacuum venting.

Each barrel section has two universal melt taps for melt pressure or melt temperature monitoring, or injection of gas or liquids. The unit uses a 5-hp a-c flux vector drive, and comes with a volumetric feeder.

Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp. showed a Varex three-layer blown film extrusion line, equipped, for the first time at a U.S. show, with its newly designed Multinip oscillating hauloff with a Nostic bubble collapsing unit.

Highlights of the Welex exhibit included a complete 4.5-inch (120-mm) world standard extrusion sheet line in the new Evolution line. The capacity of the line is 1800 lb/hr (800 kg/hr) of HIPS/PET or 1500 lb/hr (680 kg/hr) of PP/ABS. Evolution advances include leak-proof Victauli fittings, direct-acting rigid roll gap stops with digital motorized adjustment for completely positive roll gap settings without deflection, greater flexibility of use including the ability to accept different-diameter rolls, and less frequent maintenance intervals.

NDC Infrared Engineering exhibited for the first time a high-precision, wide-track sensor for transmission-type sensors used primarily in extrusion, film, and coating applications. Called AccuTrak, the new 0-frame scanner combines high scanning speeds and precise alignment with ease of serviceability.

The Accutrak provides high-speed, bidirectional scanning as fast as 20 in/sec and is available in sizes to handle web widths from 30 to 390 inches (10m). It supports up to three sensors on upper and lower carriages; has an advanced new bearing system with self-lubricating internal bearings that ensure long-term, repeatable performance; and comes with an eight-wheel guide system that prevents sensor tracking errors.

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