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1/10/2012 | 2 MINUTE READ

Screws and Screen Changers

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There are precautions that need to be taken when adding a screen changer.


Whenever a screenchanger is added to a new or existing extrusion system, certain precautions need to be taken with the extrusion screw. 
Typically the screw needs to extend into the screen changer about 2 L/D. Some screw manufacturers just add a torpedo or an "extended nose" to fill the 2 L/D void in the screen changer entrance to ensure that there is not a large slug or material buildup between the end of the screw and the breaker plate/slide plate.
If the 2 L/D screen changer entrance is not filled with the ”steel” of the screw, and the void is filled with plastic, several undesirable processing issues can occur:
1) Much longer time to do material or color changeovers.
2) Much longer time for the solid to become molten enough to pass through the breaker plate and screens. If the slug is not melted, it will typically damage or break the breaker plate. If this happens, then the slide plate will jam and the whole assembly will have to be removed and disassembled.
3) On heat sensitive materials, degradation will occur.
4) Flow velocity in the void will be very low, resulting in lots of stagnation.
While using an unflighted extended nose will work, it is not the optimum modification to the screw.  The “torpedo” nose will fill a large portion of the void and reduce the inventory of material, but the resin flow will be annular. The wiping of the bore ID will be nonexistent and therefore color change and material changeover will still be poor.
The best solution when adding a screen changer to an extrusion line is to have the portion of the screw that extends into the screen changer to have flights. But the flights must be undercut so that they do not come into contact with the soft metal bore of the screen changer. The flights are typically undersized to the bimetallic bore by 0.001 in. to 0.0015-in./side per diameteral inch of the screw diameter.  Therefore, for the portion of the screw that extends into the screen changer, the flight OD should be undersized approximately twice the normal clearance, or 0.003-in. to 0.0035-in./side per diameteral inch of the screw. By using the design criteria, these two additional turns in the screenchanger can actually be used to generate some “pumping” action and in turn improve the color and material change over time.
One more point: if a screen changer is being added to an existing extruder and the screw is extended into the screen changer as it should be, the 2 L/D flighted extension can be made as a removable section and the existing screw can be faced back so that a female thread is added to the end of the screw and then the new section can be threaded on.
Don't worry if the flights don't line up; it's best that way.  Optimally, if the flights of the new removable section were 180 degrees out of phase this would be the best.  By misaligning the flights, the new flight splits the melt stream, causing the polymer on the push side to move to the trailing side and the polymer on the trailing side moves to the pushing and actually “flip-flopping the melt pool.




Tim Womer is a recognized authority in plastics processing and machinery with a career spanning more than 35 years. He has designed thousands of screws for all types of single-screw plasticating. He now runs his own consulting company, TWWomer & Associates LLC. Contact: (724) 355-3311; tim@twwomer.com; twwomer.com