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9/1/2019 | 12 MINUTE READ

K 2019 Preview: Green's the Theme in Extrusion & Compounding

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Themes of sustainability and the Circular Economy will be visible at the booths of many suppliers of extrusion and compounding equipment—film, in particular.

Many extrusion and compounding machine builders are keeping their K 2019 plans under wraps, perhaps hoping to create a “wow” factor as attendees walk the halls in Dusseldorf next month. What follows is a rundown of new technology news gleaned by Plastics Technology though early August.

 

Film Extrusion News

 

Sustainability and the Circular Economy will be a prevalent theme throughout the show. In blown film, that will be reflected in technology to produce thinner films more consistently, sometimes using biobased materials such as PLA. Reifenhauser says film processors that upgrade lines with its EVO Ultra Flat Plus technology, an inline stretching unit integrated in the haul-off that was introduced at K 2016, can downgauge PLA films by as much as 30%. What’s more, because with Ultra Flat Plus the film is stretched while it’s still warm, the line can be run at speeds comparable to those of PE film production. This is significant because, according to Reifenhauser, PLA’s inherent lack of stiffness generally slows production speeds.

Reifenhauser will also debut a laser-measurement system that is said to precisely record the topography of the web so that production parameters can be optimized automatically . "Until now, each film manufacturer had to rely on the experience and precision of its own production technicians,” explains Eugen Friedel, sales director at Reifenhauser Blown Film. “By developing the laser measurement system, we can offer our customers more process reliability regardless of the operator. The optimization to preset parameters happens automatically in a closed control loop."

Another trend in blown film that falls within the sustainability theme is polyolefin-dedicated (POD) multi-layer lines to produce film for standup pouches and other products that typically consisted of PE and PET laminations. Reifenhauser reports that its EVO Ultra Stretch, a machine-direction orientation (MDO) device, is being deployed by a processor making breathable backsheet films for a personal-hygiene product. Like the Ultra Flat unit, the MDO is positioned in the hauloff.

On the matter of POD lines, India’s Rajoo will run a seven-layer blown film line called Heptafoil that can switch between barrier film production and all-polyolefin processing at outputs up to about 1000 lb/hr.

Another trend in blown film that falls within the sustainability theme is polyolefin-dedicated (POD) multi-layer lines. 

In other blown film news, Davis-Standard (D-S), by virtue of its acquisitions of Gloucester Engineering Corp. (GEC) and Brampton Engineering, will be promoting its Italycs 5 blown-film control system as an upgrade for processors with lines managed by the GEC Extrol control systems. The Vector air ring, introduced by Brampton at K 2016 and displayed at NPE2018, will also be showcased. New air-control technology reportedly can improve the uncorrected film starting gauge by as much as 60-80%. The air ring also is said to provide stable air velocity, resulting in consistent cooling to minimize variations in gauge across the film width.

 

 

Also on the matter of air rings, Addex Inc. will launch Phase II of its Intensive Cooling technology at K 2019. “Intensive Cooling” is what Addex calls its “revolutionary” approach to bubble cooling. Addex’s patented design change from the common aerodynamics of present-day blown-film air rings reportedly yields dramatic increases in stability and output. Addex continues to tweak the system for even greater gains when combined with Addex’s proprietary auto-profile and IBC systems.

 

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Addex has numerous air rings of this design in blown-film plants for both high- and low-melt-strength processes. The most popular configuration replaces the conventional dual-flow ring’s low-velocity, diffused-flow lower lip with a very high-velocity, upwardly directed and focused air stream, which is mounted flat to the die to create an entirely new lock point, about 25 mm above the die lip. The technology is sold as part of Addex’s industry-standard Laminar Flow air ring, and also in concert with Addex’s auto-profile and IBC systems. Addex guarantees a minimum of 10- 15% average increase in output rate, depending on materials being run; actual outputs have many times been much greater. It is not uncommon to see a 30% increase in output, especially for stiffer materials, and in one particular case the output increase was a whopping 80%, Addex reports.

Kuhne Anlagenbau GmbH will showcase a 13-layer Triple Bubble line producing biaxially oriented films for high-barrier food packages such as standup pouches, and high-barrier shrink film for fresh meat or cheese packaging, among other applications. The unique feature of these films is that they will be 100% recyclable. The line will be in operation at Kuhne’s plant in Sankt Augustin.

In flat film, Bruckner will introduce two completely new line concepts for the production of BOPE films (biaxially oriented polyethylene). Film processors can choose between lines with a working width of 21.6 ft and an output of 6000 lb/hr, or a working width of 28.5 ft and an output of 10,000 lb/hr. The new lines also have the flexibility to produce BOPP films.

Outside the packaging realm, Bruckner will display a new high-temperature concept for BOPP capacitor film; lines for producing “stone paper” based on 60% CaCo3-filled BOPP; systems for making BOPET film for optical applications; and a line for producing biaxially oriented polyimide for flexible optical displays.

Amut will be running an ACS 2000 cast line for stretch film. It features Amut’s Q-Catcher control system, which permits previously saved process parameters to be repeated, allowing for film to be reproduced run to run with exactly the same mechanical properties. The line on display will feature five extruders in a seven-layer configuration. The line can be run at up to about 2790 ft/min and 2866 lb/hr. Film thickness ranges from 6 to 25 μ. The ACS 2000 will also feature Amut’s Essentia T Die.

 

Sheet News

 

Graham Engineering will showcase a Welex Evolution sheet extrusion system equipped with XSL Navigator control. While the equipment on display at K 2019 will be for thin-gauge PP, the Evolution system can be customized for widths from 36 to 90 in., gauges from 0.008 to 0.125 in., and throughputs up to 10,000 lb/hr. Monolayer or coextrusion systems are available, with up to nine extruders.

In addition to a customized roll stand, the Evolution system can also be equipped with screen changers, melt pumps, mixers, feedblocks and dies. Additional features of the line on display include a proprietary roll-skewing mechanism for thin-gauge applications, maintaining quick roll change and electric gap adjustment under full hydraulic load without interrupting production.

Kuhne will be running two Smart Sheet extrusion lines with brand-new features in Sankt Augustin during K 2019. One is for producing PET sheet; the other for thermoformable PP/PS/PE barrier sheet.

The PET line will process post-consumer reclaim (PCR) using a Liquid State Polycondensation reactor that is able to accurately control the IV value of the melt—which can be even higher than that of the original material. It will produce FDA- and EFSA (European Food Safety Authority)-compliant sheet for food packaging.

The REIcofeed-PRO allows material streams to be adjusted automatically during operation.

The barrier line will produce seven-layer thermoformable sheet structures for applications requiring long shelf life with what Kuhne says are tight tolerances and excellent layer distribution. The main extruder in the line is a Kuhne High Speed (KHS) extruder, which is said to reduce energy, floor space, noise, spare parts and maintenance requirements. This extruder is used for the core layer and will process regrind as well as virgin resin. The line is also furnished with a Kuhne feedblock.

Reifenhauser will be showing a feedblock of its own. The REIcofeed-Pro allows material streams to be adjusted automatically during operation.

A high-speed extruder for PET sheet will also be prominent at the Battenfeld-Cincinnati booth. Its STARextruder 120 was developed specifically for processing PET. In the extruder’s central planetary roller section, melted material is “rolled out” into very thin layers, producing an enormous melt surface for degassing and devolatilization. The STARextruder can be used to process both non-predried new materials and any kind of recycled materials, as confirmed by the FDA approval it has received.

 

Pipe, Profile, Tubing News

 

Graham will show a variety of American Kuhne extrusion systems for medical tubing, including Ultra MD systems, compact modular extruders, and other systems such as a tri-layer tubing line. This line consists of three compact modular extruders and the XC300 Navigator control with integrated TwinCAT Scope View high-speed data-acquisition system.

Davis-Standard will display elastomer extrusion lines for both medical and automotive applications. This includes technology for producing medical-grade silicone tubes, wound drains and catheters, as well as elastomer capabilities for manufacturing hydraulic and automotive hoses and automotive seals. A new crosshead die, The Model 3000A, is said to reduce scrap and speed startup times. The crosshead offers preferred features such as a tapered mandrel and highly engineered flow paths to ensure consistent flow through all speed ranges, as well as a thrust bearing on pin adjustment to adjust wall thickness without interruption.

Also on display at the D-S booth will be extrusion systems for automotive fuel and vapor tubes, micro-drip irrigation laterals, heating and plumbing pipe, blown fiber micro-duct, medical tubes, offshore flexible pipe, custom pipe and tubing, and wire and cable.

On a profile line, Davis-Standard will showcase DS Activ-Check, billed as a “smart” technology that enables processors to take advantage of real-time predictive maintenance by providing early notifications of potential machine failures. Machine operators are alerted to issues before they happen, reducing unplanned downtime while also collecting valuable data. Users receive notifications via e-mail or text, and continuous monitoring of machine status is available on smart devices and remote PCs. Key parameters monitored include extruder gear reducer, lubrication system, motor characteristics, drive power unit, and barrel heating and cooling. The benefits of Activ-Check will be demonstrated on a profile line using Microsoft Windows 10 on an EPIC III control system.

For tight-tolerance pipe, Battenfeld-Cincinnati will be showcasing three products: its fast-dimension-change (FDC) pipe head that enables automatic pipe dimension changes during production, plus two new spider NG PVC pipe heads. The first of these tools have already been deployed at customers’ sites, and are said to be providing low material consumption and narrow tolerances. In the three-layer head, the middle layer of the pipe is guided by a mandrel-holder geometry, while the geometry of the outer layer has been completely revised. A benefit of the new geometry is its reported excellent flushing behavior, said to be a key feature in particular for manufacturing PVC pipes with a foamed middle layer, highly filled compact pipes, or pipes with a regrind middle layer. At the K show, both new spider pipe heads will be teamed with compatible extruders.

The new DTA 160 direct-cutting machine is set to be one of this booth’s biggest downstream innovations for pipe manufacturing. With the new cutting unit, both polyolefin and PVC pipes can reportedly be cut to exact length quickly, precisely and cleanly. A particular highlight of the new chipless unit is that it works entirely without hydraulics. Most importantly, this means that it weighs around 60% less than a conventional system. This enables the cutting unit to move much faster and makes it possible to work with short lengths as a result.

 

Compounding News

 

In compounding, Coperion will display two significantly redesigned ZSK Mc18 extruders with 45- and 70-mm screw diam. and a specific torque of 18 Nm/cm3. Optimized mechanical and electrical features provide better operating comfort and even greater efficiency. Both twin-screw extruders will be equipped with ZS-B “easy type” side feeders as well as ZS-EG “easy type” side devolatilization. Both the ZS-B and ZS-EG significantly reduce the time needed for maintenance tasks, thanks to the “easy” design that enables quick removal from and re-installation on the process section for cleaning or screw changes. Instead of three-part covers, these extruders are now equipped with single-part heat insulation covers, which are said to be very easy to handle and can be detached without removing the cartridge heaters.

The ZSK 70 Mc18 will be on display with a K3-ML-D5-V200 type vibratory feeder and an accompanying ZS-B easy with a K-ML-SFS-BSP-100 Bulk Solids Pump (BSP) feeder. The smaller ZSK 45 Mc18 will be equipped with a gravimetric K2-ML-D5-T35 twin-screw feeder and an accompanying ZS-B easy with a K-ML-SFS-KT20 twin-screw feeder for high-accuracy feeding at low feeding rates.

With the dual-bearing SP 240 strand pelletizer, Coperion Pelletizing Technology will exhibit one model from its SP series, which has been completely reworked for greatly simplified handling. Its new cutting-gap adjustment technology makes fine adjustments simpler, faster and more precise; adjustments can be done by hand, with no tools. Furthermore, it markedly reduces maintenance downtime.

KraussMaffei (formerly KraussMaffei Berstorff) will debut four new and larger sizes of its ZE Blue Power Series. From a process-engineering standpoint, the four large extruders (98, 122, 142 and 166 mm) are identical to their smaller sister models. This reportedly ensures consistent scale-up for development and processing of new formulations. The larger extruders also offer the same screw and barrel modularity. A wide range of 4D and 6D barrel sections and various side feeders and degassing units are available.

Exchangeable oval liners provide a cost-effective alternative for extremely wear-intensive processes. KraussMaffei made some minor design modifications to allow for the large size of the new extruders: The housing elements are connected by means of screw unions instead of clamping flanges, cartridge heaters are replaced by ceramic heaters, and their shape was slightly changed.

The combination of large free volume and high specific torque is said to enable “universal application” of the ZE BluePower for compounding engineering plastics and even highly filled formulations. Thanks to the 1.65 OD/ID diameter ratio, the free volume is increased by 27% over KM’s previous ZE UT extruder series. In addition, the ZE BluePower features a 36% higher torque density of 16 Nm/cm3.

Farrel Pomini will feature a Compounding Tower display at its booth, with a live demonstration of its Synergy Control System. The latter features feed-system control from the operator touchscreen; integrated control of upstream and downstream support equipment; automatic startup of downstream processes; automatic shutdown under normal and fault conditions; and remote monitoring and support capability. It is expandable to a supervisory (SCADA) system.

Farrel Pomini’s parent company, HF Mixing Group, will show its new Advise 4.0 Mixing Room Automation solution at K 2019. Advise 4.0 is a modular and scalable system that covers every process within a mixing room—from raw-materials storage to manual and fully automated weighing of small components, the mixing process, downstream equipment, and storage of mixtures. Separate applications for particular areas and machines can be selected according to requirements and merged together into a single automation system. Standard interfaces enable easy connection to ERP systems and laboratory equipment.

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