MATERIALS HANDLING: Blender Upgrades Control, Fine Tunes Mixing and Dosing

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Conair, Cranberry Township, Penn., has updated its TrueBlend line of gravimetric blenders, introducing the new SmartBlend SB-3 control and undertaking design changes that it says eliminate material losses, optimize critical blends and simplify clean-out and maintenance.

The SmartBlend SB-3 control, which supports 16 languages, features a larger 256-color, 7-inch touchscreen display, as well as intuitive graphics, easier programming and more comprehensive monitoring and control features. On the home screen, current material levels and target-vs-actual dosing for each attached TrueBlend feed hopper are displayed, as well as information about mixing-chamber material level and blender blade rotation. Conair notes it can maintain dosing accuracy of 0.025% for the total batch dispensed, thanks to its “feed forward” dosing algorithm. The SB-3 control also features an expanded memory and can now store 3000 recipes and 4000 resin names.

The SB-3 control also allows users to produce company-wide reports for inventory, jobs, recipes, and more, using the Microsoft SQL Server over standard Ethernet networks. A virtual network client (VNC) offers user access to the control touchscreen from in-plant computers and Internet-connected devices or by Conair personnel for remote troubleshooting. A passcode-protected USB data port enables software upgrade uploads or downloads of batch statistical data.

Using the self-loading option, processors can mount vacuum receivers to the blender hoppers and plug them in. The touchscreen can be used to set parameters and control up 12 loaders and one pump for conveying to or from the blender, and it supports priority loading and the commonality of blender and loading controls simplifies operator training.

In extrusion, TrueBlend blenders equipped with the Trublend EXT option combine gravimetric batch blending with extrusion yield control. Components are dispensed, weighed and mixed according to recipe percentages, and then dropped into the TrueWeigh hopper on demand and fed continuously to the extruder. The SB-3 control reads the rate of weight loss in the hopper to control extruder output to within 0.5%. With the addition of an optional line-speed encoder at the extruder haul-off, the blender control can control extrusion weight per length, adjusting the extruder screw and haul-off speeds to optimize dimensional stability.

Mechanical improvements include redesigned standard mixing chambers with taller, steeper sides plus all-around chassis seals to eliminate pellet leakage. The blades on the mixing impellers have been redesigned to ensure uniform mixing, and removable impeller assemblies simplify cleaning and maintenance. T flow control valves, which have manual or automatic configurations, are now bottom mounted.

A tapered mixing chamber is available as a new option on the larger TrueBlend TB-250 through TB-900 model blenders. Conair says it is ideal for mixing and dispensing critical blends that include material percentages less than 1%. The tapered chambers form a conical shape that eliminates any corners or dead spots.