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In Process


Surf?s up for EPS

After another local Hawaiian manufacturer closed its doors, an expandable polystyrene (EPS) manufacturer took the foam it uses for coolers, packaging peanuts, roofing, concrete forms, and other construction-related products and applied it to a uniquely Aloha state product: EPS surfboard blanks.

Pacific Allied Products Ltd. (PAP), which is located on the island of Oahu, is filling a production gap caused by the closure of Clark Foams, and introducing local surfboard manufacturers to EPS. The company had previously sent its foam to sea on sailboards, but now the noncorrosive, nontoxic, recyclable foam is gaining favor with surfboard manufacturers.

The surfboards require a high-quality EPS of a superior grade that?s denser for easier shaping and a stronger, better quality product. Board manufacturers, like Island Glass Surfboards have reportedly noticed the EPS difference, saying it has more flexibility, which helps with mobility on a wave, and that it lasts longer, is lighter, and is also more buoyant than prior foams.

Different shaping and epoxy-coating techniques are used for the EPS, which begins as a 16-ft foam block that is custom-cut into core blanks using CAD/CAM software and machining centers. The rocker, or front-to-back curve of the board, is precision machined to the designers? unique requirements, allowing them more time for fine hand detailing. After a strip of wood, called the stringer, which acts as the board?s backbone, is attached to the blank, epoxy resin is used to seal and waterproof the board. PAP makes 500 EPS core blanks a week, turning around custom blanks in an average of seven to 10 business days. For more information on Pacific Allied Products, go to www.pacificalliedproducts.com.

Turnkey line turns out PVC fence profiles

The delivery of a turnkey system helped a fence-profile extruder meet all its production projections for 2005 despite a late start. Mountain West Vinyl Products (MWVP), a wholly owned subsidiary of Plastics Resources Inc. (Logan, UT) added a Davis-Standard coextrusion line last year for manufacturing rigid PVC profiles.

The machine produces 5-by-5-inch coextruded posts, 1.5-by-5.5-inch coextruded rails, and 5?8- by-113?8-inch coextruded tongue-and-groove slats and pickets. Depending on application requirements, MWVP extrudes the products in two different wall thicknesses.

MWVP?s first turnkey line for rigid PVC profiles, the system included 65- and 40-mm Gemini conical coextruders, a portable chiller, material-loading systems, three sets of tooling, and a MESA III control system. For more information on Davis-Standard, go to www.davis-standard.com.

Vacuum dryers optimize process of automotive headlamp molding

The ability to undertake on-the-fly color changes, lower energy usage, and faster drying times from a line of vacuum dryers have helped an automotive lighting molder deal efficiently with small-lot orders. Koito Europe Ltd., a U.K. division of global automotive lighting producer Koito Manufacturing Co. Ltd., uses the LPD dryer from Maguire to fulfill its kanban system that delivers parts quickly, as needed, on a just-in-time basis.

Koito reports that the LPD units use 20% of the energy and 16% of the time consumed by hot-air or desiccant dryers, so that the faster-cycling dryers can take on more small-lot orders more quickly. Koito?s Droitwich, Worcestershire facility employs the dryers for injection molding automotive headlamp components, initially took two dryers on trial, then ordered six more.

Mike Bullock, Koito?s chief molding engineer, says some lots for the company are as small as 200 parts, mixing different colors and materials, including acrylic, polycarbonate, and ABS. Previous dryers could reportedly take up to four hours to dry materials, making such small runs economically unfeasible, but Bullock says the new dryers take 40 minutes, allowing the company to fulfill such small orders economically.

In addition to faster drying times, the LPD?s separate indexing station?s canisters for heating, vacuum, drying, and resin delivery can be removed, allowing for quick material changes without significant production interruptions. For more information on Maguire Products go to www.maguire.com.

XPS insulation a hot market in Russia

With the goal of boosting its market share by 30%, Russian insulation manufacturer Penoplex Holding has invested in a combination of single- and twin-screw Berstorff ZE/KE Schaumtandex lines, which it believes will boost its annual insulation board extrusion capacity to 800,000 cu m. Two lines have been installed in Penoplex?s facility in Perm, Russia complete with downstream equipment for inline board processing, recycling, and packaging. The throughput rates on the extruders are reportedly 1000 kg/hr, and the initial installation went well enough that Penoplex will add a third Schaumtandex ZE 60/KE 150 with a 400-kg/hr capacity to its headquarters in Kirishi, Russia. Using a corotating twin-screw extruder as the primary machine, Penoplex reportedly achieves good mixing of the multiple insulation board components, and the extruder allows it to use more environmentally friendly blowing agents, including carbon dioxide. The secondary extruder provides further homogenization of the 200°C polystyrene, blowing-agent mix, cooling it to 110°C. The machines use three individual pumps to inject up to three blowing agents, and corrosion-resistant steels for the screws and barrels. The secondary extruder uses water as a temperature-control medium to achieve optimum cooling capacities. For more information on Berstorff, go to www.berstorff.de.

Conveyors deliver flexibility

Serving markets as diverse as automotive, health care, industrial, and consumer products at its Tucson, AZ facility, flexibility is a must for GW Plastics, and that need extends to its material handling, including conveyor systems. Eschewing fixed-length conveyors for quick-change modular conveyors, GW?s cell-oriented work depends on adaptable work areas.

For one insert molding project purpose-designed for an automotive customer, GW has created three automated cells that will produce 1.7 million plastic fuel pumps annually, beginning with 2007 models. GW is using the D light- and medium-duty DynaCon modular plastic system, which reportedly adapts quickly to product changeovers, changes in production output, line conversions, and more.

The components demand synchronization among multiple components, including plastic and metal parts and feeding systems. Changes are made easier by the modular design of the conveyor system, which allows different components to be snapped together. The accessories and replacement parts can be used interchangeably, with modules like S-turns, cooling tunnels, water baths, programmable box filling, and variable-speed drives. For more information on Dynamic Conveyor Corp., go to www.dynamicconveyor.com.

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