Extrusion: Striking balance of throughput, quality remains key
Q: Which extrusion processes present converters with specific challenges and how does the latest extrusion technology provide solutions here?
A: As manufacturers enter new markets and they try to expand with new multi-layer films, they have struggled to book enough business to keep their lines 24/7. They need lines capable of processing many different materials, with accurate blends, to fill this available run time. Also, as new products are requested, the lines need to be able to adapt. At GET, our extrusion lines can meet our customer needs and enable “turn key” production. The lines includes multi-component blenders and an auto-profile ring, all completely integrated into the extruder controls. This allows film manufacturers to improve or enter film manufacturing capabilities without the hassles of integrating different vendors’ equipment.
Q: How does today’s extrusion equipment specifically answer converters’ ongoing quest for both optimum quality and maximized throughput?
A: As a machine supplier, we strive to lower gel counts and create tighter web thickness variations. This is the key to optimum film quality. At General Extrusion Technology (GET), we are collaborating with The Southern University of Technology to continue optimizing screw, die channel flow and auto-profile air ring designs to reach these goals. Maximizing production often requires striking a balance between optimum film quality and throughput. Auto-profile controls are one of the best ways to achieve consistent gauge control, especially when pushing the limits of throughput. GET offers retrofit, auto-profile air rings at a very competitive cost. GET also offers these in dual-lip air rings and double stack air rings. The latter offers the higher cooling capacity for maximized throughput.
Q: Besides high quality and throughput, what trends do you think are shaping innovations in extrusion technology and why are these important?
A: Energy savings and the use of new biomaterial or bioresins are two areas we think will shape innovations in extrusion technologies in the near future. GET offers the latest design in main drive technology. With the introduction of gearless main drives, we are seeing a cost saving around $200 a day per extruder drive in energy costs. While this initially does not seem like a large sum, it adds up quickly in 24/7-type operations: $65,000-70,000/year in savings or pay back on the initial investment in less than one-half year.
Q: What advancements in extrusion technology lie just around the corner and how do you anticipate this will impact the flexible packaging market?
A: Extrusion technology has been, and will continue to be, enhanced by the advancement of controls and computer simulation in both the production of film, as well as the production of the equipment. Using advanced computer simulations and CNC equipment GET has developed dies that have produced film with absolutely no port lines starting from the first few minutes of production.
Integrated Solutions Co.