They call it the “The Beast,” a new sheet line installed recently by custom extruder Rowmark in Findlay, Ohio (rowmarkllc.com). It’s nearly as long as the new 175 x 75 ft facility built to house it. At its heart is a 120-in., triple-manifold Ultraflex die, custom-built by Extrusion Dies Industries LLC (EDI), Chippewa Falls, Wis. The die alone weighs 14,200 lb and is designed to produce one- to three-layer sheet from 2.5 to 9.5 mm thick. The $3.5-million line includes three rebuilt extruders—2.5, 3.5, and 6 in. diam.—and a brand-new, fully automated downstream system built by Mega Machinery Inc., Riverside, Calif. (mega.biz).
“The die’s three-layer capability enables us to combine materials that deliver strength, for example, with others that provide surface aesthetics, color, UV resistance, or other properties,” says Eric Hausserman, Rowmark’s vp of manufacturing and technology. “Since the gauge uniformity of each layer is critical to us, EDI designed the die with three manifolds so that each layer can be fine-tuned before the layers are combined, and so that we have maximum versatility for varying the thickness of each layer.”
To assist Rowmark in job changeovers with minimal downtime, EDI equipped the die with its FastGap system for single-point adjustment of the lip gap. Changing the position of the movable lower lip allows varying sheet thickness within a range of 0.250 in. without taking the die off-line. An additional 0.100 in. thickness range can be achieved with the flexible top lip of the die, which controls the transverse gauge profile. Together, these capabilities provide a range of gap adjustment of up to 0.300 in.
Working with resins such as acrylic, ABS, and TPO, Rowmark produces sheet and rollstock for thermoformers. According to Hausserman, the size and versatility of the new extrusion line will increase Rowmark’s position in transportation, agricultural, and other heavy-duty sheet markets, bringing in new business for trucks, trailers, RVs, ATVs, tractors, and other applications. One growing market cited by Hausserman is wind deflectors, which are the bottom skirts on semi-trailers.