Unique Machine Combines Dryer, TCU in Single Footprint
Novel, space-saving device co-developed by Novatec and Advantage Engineering offers a single control designed to reduce setup mistakes.
Two well-known suppliers of auxiliary equipment have combined their wares in a space-saving, first-of-its kind machine that will be displayed at both their booths during NPE2018, May 7-11. Called the DryTemp+, the patent-pending machine combines a portable desiccant-wheel dryer and a fluid temperature-control unit (TCU) in a single footprint. It is the product of a collaborative effort between Novatec Inc., Baltimore, and Advantage Engineering, Greenwood, Ind.
“Processors with dryers typically also have mold-temperature controllers; and dryers require a water connection; so it made sense to both companies to look for ways to integrate the two machines,” says Conrad Bessemer, CEO of Novatec.
“As far as molders are concerned, more molding is being done in cells,” he continues. “Space around a molding machine is always at a premium, and the more you can free up the better.” According to Bessemer, the DryTemp+ occupies about the same space as a Novatec NovaWheel portable desiccant dryer.
Both Bessemer and Jon Gunderson, president of Advantage, agree that the combination unit could potentially appeal to any processor that does not dry centrally. Bessemer estimates that in North America roughly 70% of the drying market is beside the press. Adds Gunderson, “We’re seeing a lot of press-side drying in automotive, running high-temperature resins.” Gunderson expects NPE2018 will serve as a testing ground for the new technology, perhaps exposing the two suppliers to applications they had not considered. In addition to molding, one possible market is medical-tubing extrusion. Those processors generally run at low throughput rates and have lines typically equipped with both dryers and TCUs, the latter to control the water temperature of their cooling tanks.
DryTemp+ was designed jointly by the two companies. It will be assembled by Novatec, with Advantage furnishing the pump, heater, modulating control valve, and controls. Advantage patented modulating control technology in the early 1990s and maintains that it provides more precise control over water temperature than more commonly used on-off solenoid valves.
The DryTemp+ will be co-branded and is available from both companies directly or through their third-party sales agents, many of which represent both companies.
ONE CONTROL FOR TWO FUNCTIONS
The unit features a 7-in., menu-driven, touchscreen Siemens pendant PLC, from which the user can access both drying and mold-temperature control parameters. The PLC can provide trending and data logging and will be Ethernet equipped so it can be used for QC logging of jobs with resin, mold temperature, and drying parameters recorded. “This will provide great traceability for many molding operations,” says Bessemer.
He adds, “What Novatec and Advantage have developed is a total QC system ensuring that drying and temperature parameters are set properly and are recorded as part of an effort to provide mistake-proof molding. Right now, most mold temps are not Ethernet enabled.”
The pendant controller features a magnet, allowing it to be mounted on an injection press. The controller will be compatible with barcode readers; a USB barcode device can be used to scan the mold and have drying parameters and mold-temperature zone parameters set automatically. The same barcode device can also scan the resin (for example, a gaylord beside the press) to ensure that the right resin is being used with the mold scan.
The DryTemp+ features a NovaWheel desiccant dryer sized for applications ranging from 25 to 150 lb/hr. The dryer features Novatec’s over-dry protection technology (see last month’s Close-Up), a central vacuum blower for conveying (DC models), hopper receiver, machine-mount receiver, wand, conveying hose (DC models), cooling coil with plasticizer drain for drying above 225 F, and a vacuum-purge valve with slide-gate discharge.
The dryer also features Novatec’s intelligent regeneration technology to minimize energy usage, and a dewpoint analyzer with indication alarm. The TCU is available with one or two circuits, display screen, custom-designed impeller housing and heating and cooling cylinders, .-hp pump (2 hp optional), and 10-kW heater. TCU capacity is 30 gpm at 30 psi, with 30-250 F temperature capability.
The pump includes a drip-proof motor, seal-flush line, and stainless-steel shaft. The microprocessor controlled, 1/2-in. modulating cooling valve has a 0-100% aperture range. The TCU’s heater is sheathed in stainless steel and controlled by a solid-state relay. Other features include temperature sensors, low-pressure relief valves, over-temperature limit, overpressure relief valves, and mechanical from/to process pressure gauges. TCU components tilt out to facilitate maintenance.
The DryTemp+ also features an automatic phase-rotation detection to facilitate hook-up. It is furnished with a single water supply and drain and power drop. The companies intend to equip the unit with MachineSense predictive-maintenance options in the future.
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