Auxiliaries at K 2013: More Efficient, Flexible & User-Friendly

K 2013 Show Report

It’s hard to generalize about auxiliary equipment, but a few trends stood out at K, including: greater energy efficiency, ease of maintenance and cleaning, controls that provide more real-time and historical process information and greater ease of use.

Article From: 12/18/2013 Plastics Technology, , , , , ,

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SACMI showed the developmental Colora Cap system for digital inkjet printing on caps at rates of 36,000/hr or higher with an infinitely variable mix of up to 500 different images.

Maguire’s new VBD-150 vacuum dryer (left) has been redesigned for lower maintenance. New Aton2 wheel dryer from Wittmann Battenfeld (below) boasts improved energy efficiency.

New OptiEx blender from TSM combines batch weighing with loss-in-weight extrusion control. It’s said to result in faster response and lower cost than continuous LIW blender

Plasmatreat uses shadow masking for application of a circuit structure to a nylon part using new FPC plasma process.

Drying, feeding, blending, loading, conveying, heating/cooling, decorating, printing, granulating, testing, and measuring—it’s hard to generalize about such diverse auxiliary equipment, but a few trends stand out. Greater energy efficiency is one, as is ease of maintenance and cleaning. Another is controls that provide more real-time and historical process information and greater ease of use. Others are greater flexibility of operation and more durable construction to enable users to get more from their capital investment. Note that additional news in auxiliaries was covered in our September show preview and December news Close Up.

DRYING

AEC, Schaumburg, Ill., showed off its new MDB dual-bed desiccant dryer for up to three hoppers, which allows internet remote access. New WA drying hoppers of brushed stainless steel are said to be more economical and efficient—for instance, they have an insulated door to reduce heat loss.

New DC-T TouchView dryer control from Conair, Cranberry Township, Pa., was previewed in September.

Maguire Products, Aston, Pa., has added a smaller model to its newly redesigned line of vacuum dryers. These differ from previous models through the use of gravity to move material vertically from one drying stage to another, with discharge of material between stages controlled by high-speed slide-gate valves, as on other Maguire equipment. This eliminates most moving parts, particularly the three-station indexing carousel mechanism of the Maguire LPD vacuum dryer introduced in 2000.

The redesign also does away with sealing gaskets, which can become worn and compromised by resin dust, and with perforated screens that require cleaning. The first of the new models, VBD-1000, was sized for up to 1000 lb/hr. The new VBD-150 at K was for up to 196 lb/hr. It also includes load cells for real-time monitoring and documentation of material usage. This feature was added due to customer demand after initial installations of the larger model.

Mini compressed-air dryers from Moretto of Italy (represented here by Advanced Blending Solutions, Menominee, Mich.) now are offered with optional stainless-steel hoppers or Pyrex. They have a touchscreen and USB port.

Next year, Moretto plans to introduce a moisture meter for real-time, closed-loop dryer control. Moretto aims to use two meters, before and after the drying hopper, to measure initial and final moisture levels.

Motan-Colortronic (U.S. office in Plainwell, Mich.; motan.com) brought out the Luxor CA S line of small compressed-air dryers for micromolding. They come with 0.75- or 3-liter insulated glass hoppers; the smallest size previously was 8L.

Piovan of Italy, parent of Universal Dynamics, Woodbridge, Va., has updated its Modula central dryer from the last K show. The second generation handles up to 16 hoppers vs. 12 before. Modula saves energy by automatically adjusting each hopper’s air flow, as well as the overall air speed and volume for throughput and moisture level by means of motorized butterfly valves. Users can input the resin type and it will automatically set the temperature.

The new Aton2 segmented-wheel dryer from Wittmann Battenfeld (U.S. office in Torrington, Conn.) uses one blower instead of two for energy savings. It integrates regeneration cooling into the process, recirculates as much regeneration air as needed to maintain process-air temperature. Shown at K was the model F30, a new size for up to 44 lb/hr.

FEEDING & BLENDING

AEC updated its blender controls, which now offer data logging, LAN connection, optional USB port, and storage for 100 recipes.

As reported in September, Coperion K-Tron, Pitman, N.J., introduced a new micro-ingredient feeder with single or twin augers. It also updated its SmartFlow Meter design to allow less material buildup inside and thus easier changeovers, which now take only 5 min. SmartFlow measures bulk material flow with no moving parts and no mechanical interaction with the material.

Maguire Products showed off new enhancements to its batch gravimetric blenders. One is a “carousel valve” for dispensing ultra-small doses of ingredients from the blender hoppers. It mimics the action of a vibratory feeder for accurate dosing of “difficult” ingredients at rates less than 1 g/sec. Also new is upgraded Gravimetric Gateway (G2) networking software (Version 5) for monitoring an entire plant or multiple plants via a PC server. Software enhancements address users’ need for more data to facilitate cost savings through increased control and for greater documentation of process conditions. Version 5 increases the capability for live remote monitoring of material consumption.

Maguire also expanded the versatility of its Sweeper system for completely emptying bulk boxes of resin without operator intervention or cumbersome box tilters. The Sweeper continuously sweeps the length and breadth of the top level of resin in the container, reaching into every corner, while sucking up and conveying resin by vacuum to a dryer or machine hopper.

New features include an upgraded drive motor for better handling of regrind, flake, and powder. New options are also available to adapt the material lance to “difficult” materials such as powders, flakes, or long-glass compounds. And a dual control automatically switches from a Sweeper in an empty box to a second Sweeper in a full one to maintain resin feed without downtime.

From Moretto comes a new gravimetric blender, said to have the highest capacity in the world, for reprocessing PET flake at up to 25,000 lb/hr. It handles six components.

Also new is Moretto’s Krystal volumetric feeder with a clear, antistatic acrylic hopper (stainless steel optional). Its aluminum body has been redesigned for faster cleanout. It also features quick-change dosing screws, gear motor with higher torque, touchscreen, USB port, storage of over 100 recipes.

Motan-Colortronic’s latest includes an Ultracolor gravimetric batch blender based on the Colortronic Ultrablend design. It replaces the former Motal Gravicolor. The firm also offers the Colortronic Graviplus continuous loss-in-weight blender for extrusion. The new Minicolor V volumetric feeder has a disc dosing device (also from Colortronic), which replaces metering screws.

Piovan has a new line of Quantum gravimetric batch blenders. One unusual feature is the ability to remove the weighing system to the floor and mount only the mixer on the machine. This makes for a lightweight compact arrangement on the machine and allows one weighing unit to serve several machines, each with a Q12 remote mixer. Another unusual feature of the Quantum blender is its hemispherical mix chamber, which adapts easily to a round vacuum receiver and allows the blades to sweep the entire interior surface, leaving no dead spots or preferential-flow areas for a more consistent mix and easy cleanout.

Other easy-clean features include the quick-release drain and mixer blades that can be removed without tools. In addition, the loaders stay fixed in place and only the feeders and supply hoppers are removed for cleaning. The unit has a trapezoidal metering gate, said to provide better control.

Piovan also showed a new powder feeder (volumetric or gravimetric) for hard-to-flow materials like calcium carbonate. It has both a feed auger and prefeed auger-agitator, both with variable-speed inverter drive.

Process Control Corp., Atlanta, highlighted its new EXG Series Operator Station, a supervisory system for gravimetric extrusion control that communicates over a high-speed Modbus Ethernet interface. It periodically adjusts the speed of each extruder through the drive-control module. The EXG is also the primary operator station for recipe entry, line operation, and monitoring. It can control and/or monitor up to 12 extruders simultaneously. The 10.4-in. color touchscreen panel has CF-card and USB ports for fast entry of configuration files and access to trending and data logging.

Process Control also exhibited the new XCG2 mini stainless-steel, gravimetric continuous loss-in-weight blender designed for coextrusion processes and an all-stainless XDG6 continuous LIW blender.

TSM of Ireland (U.S. office in Alpharetta, Ga.) exhibited two new gravimetric blenders. The OptiEx model uses an unusual combination of batch weighing of ingredients and loss-in-weight (LIW) extrusion control. This is said to be much less expensive than a continuous LIW blender and to be good for extrusion operations where speed changes are common, because it reportedly offers faster response—in seconds rather than minutes. The unit handles up to six components, but the next generation will take eight or 12. Max. throughput is 3300 lb/hr.

TSM’s new OptiBlend continuous LIW blender for extrusion now handles up to seven components (up from five previously). It handles up to 6600 lb/hr. Features include low-maintenance brushless DC motors, and easy cleanout.

Wittmann Battenfeld’s new Net8 control with handheld pendant for Gravimax blenders holds 120 recipes and has a USB port for data exchange. It provides real-time process visualization.

CONVEYING, LOADING

New AVR vacuum receivers from AEC are said to be more economical and use low-maintenance brushless motors for the loaders. Also new is the VP vacuum pump for loading up to nine small machine hoppers, dryers, or blenders at distances up to 500 ft.

Moretto’s new Kasko receivers have been restyled into a simple, compact shape with no visible cables because control is integrated inside the machine for mechanical protection. These receivers have an enlarged discharge valve for faster filling and unloading. Conveying rates are said to be more than 30% higher than for other receivers. Their internal vortex effect reportedly can handle pellets, flakes, or powders. The receivers are also “self-adaptive” and do not need to be set because they “recognize” working parameters such as suction time and pipe-cleaning time. Also new are FC cyclone filters with automatic self-cleaning.

As reported in September, Pelletron Corp., Lancaster, Pa., came out with a compact, lightweight (2 lb) model C-20 DeDusterfor mounting on injection molding machines. Pelletron also has a new RC45 low-height DeDuster for its Pellcon3 conveying system. The unit takes out the largest streamers and “birds nests” while using 50% less air, saving energy.

A third new product is Pelletron’s FineAlyzer, a $5000 system that makes it easy to perform the “wet test” (ASTM D7486) for dust content on virgin pellets for compounders and resin producers. Aimed at compounders and resin producers, it measures dust on pellets from 1.6- to 500-micron size.

Piovan has agreed with Vactec LLC, Kalamazoo, Mich., make and sell the new PureFlow filterless vacuum receiver invented by Vactec president Chuck Thiele. Said to be a first, this device is said to answer the longstanding need for an affordable way to separate incoming material from the air stream without the need to change and clean filters or screens or used compressed-air blowback or implosion cleaning.

According to Thiele, existing filterless units are relatively expensive and thus are used mainly for powders and regrind. The PureFlow reportedly delivers nearly 100% separation efficiency at only slightly higher cost than a filter-type receiver.

The device incorporates an abrasion-resistant material inlet and air exhaust into the cover of the receiver—a simple arrangement that provides easy access, notes Thiele. The kinetic energy of arriving material is absorbed in a proprietary RaBend entry elbow, so material drops into the receiver while conveying air exhausts through a ring between the elbow entry tube and the receiver body. Upward velocity in the air ring is less than 5% of the minimum required to entrain material.

Piovan also introduced the Ryng, an weighing adapter for vacuum loaders, which mounts between the vacuum chamber and the vessel below. The Ryng incorporates a load cell so that it can weigh and totalize each load. It’s retrofittable to any make of loader and is especially suitable for extrusion.

Process Control showed a new dust-tight version of its vacuum receiver aimed at medical applications.

New Feedmax S3 net loaders from Wittmann Battenfeld are individual units that can be networked together, offering the advantages of a central loading system. For example, several loaders can be networked in a production cell, and one controller can handle all loaders in a network. These stainless-steel units have a new handheld pendant controller and LED status display on the loader.

HEATING, COOLING

AEC’s new GC central chiller has a 10-in. touch display and control for up to five circuits totaling up to 300 tons. It’s based on modular single-circuit chillers of 20 to 60 tons each. (Previously, AEC packaged two circuits together.) Modules can be added as needed.
In September, we reported on Conair’s new EP1 and EP2 portable chillers from 1 to 43 tons.

Frigel of Italy (U.S. office in E. Dundee, Ill.) is preparing for commercial introduction this spring new Microgel portable water-cooled chillers in 3RCM single-zone and 3RCD dual-zone versions. The complete redesign includes updated pumps and compressors that operate more efficiently with new eco-friendly refrigerants. More pump options also offer a larger range of flow and pressure, so it will be possible to choose the most efficient pump for an application.

New controls include a 7-in. touchscreen (Frigel’s first), diagnostic software, all manuals, and guidance to teach users how to operate the units. They also will offer WiFi capability (now available only on Frigel’s central chillers), which will permit remote monitoring of operating parameters, energy efficiency, status, alarms, and maintenance history. Maximum capacity per zone has been raised to 80 tons from 60 tons for single-zone and 30 tons for dual-zone units.

Another important feature of these units is that they will be available for either open-loop or closed-loop operations—in other words, they don’t necessarily require clean water. In addition, they will have a hydraulic control circuit with no modulating valves to interrupt flow to the mold and create a pressure drop. Automatic mold draining, formerly an option, will be standard. A new option will be to use two pumps in parallel, so that one can be turned off when not needed, providing an efficient way to unload 50% of capacity. It would be suited to shops with a wide range of molds and cooling needs. It’s almost as efficient as using a variable-speed inverter pump drive, but less expensive.

Also new from Frigel is the EcoDry 3DK adiabatic liquid cooler, which can operate even with water temperatures as high as 30 C (86 F). A booster system kicks in, which wets the cooling coils directly, increasing their cooling capacity, in addition to spray-saturating the air around the coils with water mist.

Moretto has a new hot-water TCU for micromolding machines. The Teko 0 model has 0.7 kW heater and two circuits. It can provide up to 90 C (194 F) water temperature.

Wittmann Battenfeld’s new Tempro plus D-L TCUs are pressurized hot-water units in new larger sizes with standard heating capacity of 18 kW and cooling capacity of up to 40 kW per circuit (36 kW heating and 80 kW cooling optional). They have two water tanks instead of one and two heaters working in series. They can operate at up to 180 C (356 F) and are said to be especially suitable for Variotherm hot/cold molding.

Also new is Wittmann’s Flowcon Plus water flow controller with control pendant. This upgrade of an older product line has new automatic flow and temperature adjustment for up to 12 circuits with a stepper motor for each zone.

SCRAP RECLAIM

Rapid Granulator (U.S. office in Cranberry Township, Pa.) launched the 150-21 Auger Sound Proof (ASP) under-the-press granulator at the show. The unit runs at less than 75 dBA sound level. It was developed in conjunction with a large molder that Rapid says had “extraordinary demands for both granule quality and working environment.”

Also, the new Raptor Series of shredders from Rapid features an “open-hearted” design that gives access to all core components of the unit for cleaning, service, and maintenance in 70 sec. The line initially consists of five models, all of which will be modular to allow for tailoring to the specific application. The first models are expected to be available in the first quarter.

The SML 45/60 SB granulator from Herbold (U.S. office in North Smithfield, R.I.;) is the latest in the company’s line of force-fed machines for general-purpose use. They are billed as robust, compact, and easy to clean while generating low noise. Herbold also displayed the SMS Series of heavy-duty granulators for tough applications. They feature a removable deflection wedge to accommodate a wide variety of applications, along with energy-efficient double-cross cutting action, and adjustable rotor and bed knives.

The CT500 granulator from Cumberland, New Berlin, Wis., is aimed at recycling of large containers and blow molded objects. Available in three sizes from 20 x 28 to 20 x 48 in., the CT500 Series also offers a large, 500 mm cutting circle for enhanced part ingestion, and throughputs from 2000 to 3500 lb/hr. Cumberland also showed the 1600X Series general-purpose granulators for injection and blow molding and extrusion.

Cumberland’s 1018X edge-trim granulator has a heavy-duty feed-roll assembly complete with 76-mm-diam. rollers. The steel knurled rolls are driven by a 0.37 kW geared motor and are fitted with an adjustable knife-edge stripper to prevent wrapping of thin trims.

Two other new granulators covered in September were Conair’s  NCF-819 super-tangential granulator and the MC 33 granulator for injection or blow molding scrap from Wittmann Battenfeld.

New products from Process Control Corp. included an edge-trim inducer for operations that runs at up to 1150 ft/min and an edge-trim grinder for throughputs to 55 lb/hr.

DECORATING & PRINTING

A reportedly novel atmospheric plasma system for depositing thin-film metal coatings was launched by Plasmatreat, Elgin, Ill. FPC (Fine Powder Coating) uses fine metallic powders like copper, aluminum, or tin to coat heat-sensitive materials like plastics, rendering them conductive and solderable without the use of VOC-emitting wet chemicals, unlike conventional powder coatings. In combination with the company’s Openair-Plasma technology, FPC cleans and activates a wide variety of thermoplastic or thermose substrates, including fiber composites. A single environmentally friendly operation produces metallic coatings in a matter of seconds.

Consisting of a powder-feeding system and plasma system, the FPC injects fine powder particles into the highly energetic Openair plasma beam. At the high temperature in the center of the plasma beam, the particles become molten, allowing them to combine to form a coating. The kinetic energy of the plasma beam carries the particles out of the Openair-plasma jet onto the substrate to create a homogeneous metallic layer. A key benefit is that the robot-controlled plasma nozzle allows for locally selective application, unlike spraying or dipping processes.

SACMI of Italy (U.S. office in Des Moines, Iowa), maker of continuous compression molding machines for bottle caps, presented its developmental Colora Cap system for digital multicolor inkjet printing of caps at rates up to 36,000/hr or more. Its software can store 500 TIF images and print literally a different image on each successive cap. It prints high-definition images at up to 650/min, or lower-resolution logos and type at up to 2000/min with integrated vision inspection.

TESTING & MEASURING

Chicago-based Atlas Materials Testing Technology unveiled what it claims sets a new standard in economical, mid-sized xenon weather-testing devices. The air-cooled Xenotest 440 combines new XenoLogic lamp technology with an efficient design that includes ultrasonic humidifiers to reduce water consumption.

XenoLogic is a new twin-lamp technology that enables the instrument to achieve high irradiance levels of 120 W/m2 of total UV radiation. By testing at higher irradiance levels, test times can be significantly reduced compared with standard weathering tests. XenoLogic is also said to provide extended lamp life by dividing the desired irradiance level between two synchronized 2200W xenon lamps. The two xenon lamps combined can last over 4000 hr under standard testing levels of 40-60 W/m2. This also reportedly reduces lamp operating costs by as much as 30% or more.

C.W. Brabender, South Hackensack, N.J., featured its line of rheometers, highlighting its ART Plasti-Corder and Intelli-Torque Plasti-Corder torque rheometers and testing software.

Tinius Olsen, Horsham, Pa., showcased its line of universal testing machines, including its S and T Series of benchtops and testing software.

ISRA Vision, Norcross, Ga., launched Plug & Inspect, a ready-to-use surface-inspection system for clear or opaque webs like films and nonwovens. The company says users can now put a complete inspection system into operation on their own without any expert knowledge. Only a few steps are required to achieve reliable identification and classification of surface defects including gels, pits, and holes. The package includes the camera, illumination module, and software that runs on a PC or tablet.

ISRA Vision also showcased its new, patented Gel-Light illumination with LED technology for its quality-control inspection systems for transparent optical films such as BOPP, PET, and BOPET for TFT (thin-film transistor) displays used in smartphones, tablet PCs, and flat-screen TVs. The new technology allows realtime, online detection of defects of under 50 µm size. Such defects have not been detectable with previous systems and can result in optical defects in TFT displays. ISRA’s inspection systems fall into three categories. A standard system can detect defects down to a size of 100 µm. An advanced version identifies irregularities down to 50 µm or even smaller upon request. This detects fisheyes, gels, black specks, scratches, and pinholes.

The Gel-Light tilted concept used in the premium category also identifies fine scratches and contamination below the resolution limit. ISRA says classification of scratches and point defects has been significantly improved; defects may be displayed according to type and size.

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