Leistritz Pushes ‘Technology Envelope’ In NPE2018 Display
Compounding machinery supplier does not limit its display just to its core business, showcasing solutions for emerging and even embryonic technologies as well.
For Leistritz, NPE is not just about displaying its new machinery and process-development capabilities. Over the past several shows, in fact, the firm has deliberately displayed products outside the realm of its core technology of twin-screw compounding extruders.
Charlie Martin, the company’s president and general manager, explains why: “Our displays are what I would call ‘forward looking.’ We look at the bigger picture, try to identify technology developments that are around the corner, and make decisions on what to display at the show based on that strategy. We plant seeds, and in time many come to fruition.”
At previous NPE shows, Leistritz (Booth W5545) has displayed a TPO-based coextrusion sheet line that combined a single-screw machine and a twin, as well as mono-layer lines for sheeting and medical tubing. At that time, in-line compounding—combining twin-screw compounding with finished-part extrusion was in its infancy—and Martin wanted Leistritz to “push the envelope” and be ahead of the game. At other NPE it displayed a line for super-critical CO2 microcellular foaming.
At its booth at NPE2018, Leistritz will display a line to produce filaments for 3D printing—also known as additive manufacturing. The system will consist of loss-in-weight feeders; a ZSE 18 co-rotating twin screw extruder furnished with a gear pump; a die to produce 1- to 5-mm 3D filaments; and a custom air-rack for air quench cooling and sizing of the filament, belt puller, laser gauge and winder. The control system will integrate closed-loop pressure control to ensure a tight tolerance product. Martin says the system is ideal for in-line compounding of polymers with additives and active-fillers to quickly develop new filaments and formulations. Formulations can be modified “on the fly” for rapid sampling of modified filaments with different formulation percentages. A sample can be produced every 10 min.
“From a commercial standpoint, machinery for 3D printing isn’t a huge market for Leistritz,” Martin acknowledges. “But at the same time, it’s emerging technology that’s emblematic of how plastics are being used in new, unconventional ways, replacing metal in some cases. We want to be associated with that.” After the show, Leistritz will ship the line back to its process laboratory in Somerville, N.J., where it will be available for trials.
Leistritz’s display of its ZSE 27 MAXX co-rotating twin screw extruder is yet another example of the machine builder’s “outside the box” thinking with respect to exhibiting at trade shows. This line will be shown with an air-quench pelletizer. “Now, maybe one out of every 200 twin-screw compounding systems are specified with this type of pelletizing system,” says Martin, explaining that the technology is used primarily in cases where the compound must avoid water. “Compounders use air-quench pelletizing only if they have to,” says Martin. “They tend to be more difficult to operate. The pellets tends to clump, smear and stick together. But we’re seeing more formulations being developed that require this type of technology, particularly in the area of biopolymers. And if you happen to have this type of pelletizing technology, you’ll be in the position to get the orders.”
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