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Keywords of this article:  extrusion 
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Addex’s ICE cooling system is able to increase output by 40-60% for blown film lines.
Addex’s ICE cooling system is able to increase output by 40-60% for blown film lines.

Increasing speed and output are always demanded. What’s more, they must be flexible for product changes, while products of higher quality are desired. Thanks to enormous efforts in research and innovations, what looks like a tough job has been handled well by extrusion machinery suppliers.

More efficient

Extrusion is an energy intensive process. The heating and cooling of materials especially consumes large amount of energy. The US company Addex Inc. has launched a unique cooling technology – Intensive Cooling Experience (ICE) – that increases output by 40-60% for blown film extrusion lines.

According to Bob Cree, President of Addex, the ICE system adapts 40-year-old cooling technology and is a major improvement over conventional air-ring technology. “In this case, we’ve developed a major enhancement that takes earlier technology to a higher level and sets a new bar for throughput.”

The new patent pending ICE Element design consists of a series of cooling rings arranged in a stackable configuration to achieve higher output rates. Each of these air rings direct divergent air flow along the bubble, both upward and downward from each stacked cooling element, to provide high film-holding forces and peak cooling efficiency.

The high performance divergent cooling elements are assembled using simple spacer pipes that also provide a common feed of cooling air to each cooling element level, according to Cree. The stack mounts directly to the top of the die, forming a short stack topped with an ICE enhanced Addex dual-flow air ring.

The system includes an ICE Enclosure which fully surrounds the stack, replacing the surrounding atmosphere with a highly stable controllable ambient pressure. Each enclosure includes variable speed, low-pressure fans to operationally set the pressure differential between the inside and outside of the bubble.

Easy-to-interpret operator feedback and adjustment allows for optimizing the stability and cooling efficiency of this enclosed, stacked cooling system.

ICE comes standard with four stackable cooling elements, yielding a guaranteed 40-60% increase in output, with high film quality assured by the enhanced stability of the ICE enclosure and cooling element designs.

Two cooling elements are the minimum, but generally any number can be stacked to achieve the desired output gains, Cree noted. Each element provides a 10% to 15% increase in output rate versus lines using conventional dual-flow air rings.

Operation makes easier

Continually increasing speed and output of the production lines with ever shorter delivery times and growing demand for quality – all this makes managing the production of such films a highly complex business.
Brückner’s LIM system makes the film making process easier.
This is where Brückner’s Intelligent Line Management (LIM) comes in. It is an integrated solution which smooths the way for Brückner’s customers to “Smart Production” and “Industry 4.0”. The focus lies here on a new way of operating lines, putting the emphasis on the process view as opposed to the usual machine view.

This new operating concept is supported by an increasing amount of assistant systems which can also be upgraded with older lines. Already established is the “Energy Monitor” for measuring and analyzing the energy consumption of the film production process. It supports the operator to optimize the energy use of each product at all line components and thus to achieve highest film quality on lowest energy input and CO2 emissions.

Brückner has now developed more new tools and assistant systems as well as sensors for inline measurements to directly influence important film values such as temperature, haze, molecular orienteering angle or also density and porosity.

With Intelligent Line Management film producers will find it easier to manufacture the highest film quality, independent of the installed asset base – easy transition of a product from “line1” to “line2” or even from “production site 1” to “site 2”.

BPCTouch provides intuitive control for machine operators.KraussMaffei Berstorff’s new BPCTouch control system, which will be equipped on all twin-screw extruders in the ZE BluePower, ZE UTX and ZE Basic series, is able to simplify the operating process thanks to its intuitive control.

It features a clear menu structure to reliably guide the machine operator through all process steps. All relevant peripheral components and downstream equipment can be rapidly integrated into the software using standardized interfaces.

Easy operation with a user-oriented interface is the key to improved system control,” said Peter Roos, President of KraussMaffei Group’s Extrusion Technology Segment and CEO at KraussMaffei Berstorff.

Each operator must log in at the integrated transponders by RFID chip card. Depending on the user level, access to the assigned functions is granted. The control system completely records all steps performed by the operator.

Moreover, the innovative control system offers enhanced metrology performance, enabling measurement of the energy consumption of the extruder and peripheral equipment.

As an example for the Integrated Production category, the BPCTouch control links order management and production data and enables retrieval of order data, preset data transfer and triggering of processes at any time.

The control system is equipped with a remote maintenance interface for target-oriented and extended service features, which also allows additional interactive service options to be installed at a later date.

Faster changeover

Nowadays, film manufacturers have to face shorter delivery times and smaller production lots – while providing a broader product portfolio at the same time. That means a fast and easy product change is a very important matter for them today and they are longing for appropriate solutions to continuously enhance their flexibility.
QSE adapter enables processors to easily change the screw without dismantling the melt pipes, feed block and other components.
A 90mm extruder of Davis-Standard has shown engineering updates such as a new extruder frame, innovative feedscrew design and quick screw exchange (QSE) technology. This specific extruder is designed for high temperature processes up to 300°C and those requiring specialty copolymer resins for film, coating, adhesion and molding applications.

The QSE adapter enables processors to easily change the screw without dismantling the melt pipes, feed block and other components. An extraction tool is included to manually change the breaker plate melt-filtering inserts. The adapter is engineered with an electrical pressure gauge, manual or motorized pressure spindle, double thermocouple for every heating zone, and breaker plate with two-screen pack.

Other extruder advantages include electrical barrel heating with air-cooled blowers for each zone; temperature controlled water cooling for gearbox oil cooler, water cooled screw and feed section; and fixed die support and thermal expansion capability.
VAREX II, with the help of TURBOCLEAN, reduces changeover times by more than 2/3.
Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H)’s VAREX II is an intelligent machine that, with the help of TURBOCLEAN, can automatically purge and change resins and in turn increase line efficiency. This innovation reduces changeover times by more than 2/3.

9% of productivity is lost during job changes; this represents hands down the biggest percentage of machine downtime,” said Dr. Lennart Ederleh, Technical Sales Director, Extrusion Equipment at W&H. “The shorter the changeover, the more production time is available.”

Today’s job changeover on a multi-layer line can take up to 40 minutes, the reason being that the machine operator performs the process manually, one component after another.

With TURBOCLEAN, W&H said such changeovers can be as short as only 12 minutes. This is made possible because all steps are automated and are run simultaneously.

The processes are integrated in the machine and the machine operator is guided through the process steps inside by the PROCONTROL TS touchscreen operator panel.

A simple push of the button initiates the changeover. The operator is instructed when to take the suction hose out of one material container and place it in another. After that, TURBOCLEAN finishes the process all on its own.

With the development of TURBOCLEAN, the required changeover time has been reduced to 1/3,” Dr. Ederleh elaborated. “If a film manufacturer implements the EASY CHANGE automation module for automated size changes along with TURBOCLEAN, even more productivity can be reached.”

This is possible because all modules of the VAREX II are integrated into one main control panel PROCONTROL TS, he explained.

Better quality

What has also been improved over the years is the quality of the film produced – along with ever decreasing thickness and increasing film complexity.

In the past, only film width and profile tolerance were considered a quality feature. Reifenhäuser Blown Film has set the third quality standard in the blown film world and will offer the possibility to measure and optimize film flatness.

Flatter film can be printed more easily in subsequent processing steps while the printing quality remains unchanged or can even be improved. Less film camber also enables a better sealing quality in Form Fill Seal (FFS) machines. Moreover, higher bond strengths allow a reduced use of adhesive in lamination processes which results in significant additional cost savings.
Flatter films are produced with Ultra Flat Plus haul-off unit.
The criticized ubiquitous high density polyethylene (HDPE) films used as ultra-thin T-shirt carrier bags for fresh produce are one of the reasons for the growing trend towards the new ecological films which are demanded above all in France today.

Polyrema, a Reifenhäuser subsidiary, demonstrated the production of mono-layer blown film line equipped with an additionally installed Ultra Flat Plus unit. Marcel Perrevort, the company’s Sales Director, stated, “This film can also be laminated with paper to produce, for example, the typical wrap film for butter packaging or butchery products.”

When using the Ultra Flat Plus haul-off for stretching bio-film, higher strength and stiffness can be achieved resulting in a considerably improved conversion of the film. In addition, the system enables film thicknesses that are extremely difficult to be obtained using conventional methods.

A further highlight is a special screw cooling system installed in the Reifenhäuser extruder. “The optimal processing temperature of the raw material is relatively low. The cooled screw enables gentle processing conditions for this material”, explained Perrevort.

Although it produces “only” mono-layer film, the line is equipped with a two-layer blown film die head. The melt is divided in the blown film die in a ratio 50 to 50 and then combined again into two layers. As a result, the film structure is improved in terms of stability and strength, despite of using only one raw material.

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