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Laboratory compounders | machinery


Scaled-down versions of commercial compounders and laboratory- sized benchtop machines can help product development and process optimisation. Jennifer Markarian reviews the latest introductions


Developments in the laboratory


Laboratory compounding extruders are a useful addition to a commercial compounding operation. They play an obvious part in any operation that is expanding its product lines and needs to do a significant amount of product and process development. They can also pay dividends for those that want to experiment with making existing processes more efficient - having a laboratory capability in-house can make it so much easier to schedule experiments. In addition, laboratory or small-diameter twin-screw extruders (TSE) can be used for small commercial production runs, which can be a real benefit in an industry facing increasing calls for short lead time deliveries and smaller lot sizes. This article takes a look at some of the latest equipment developments. At K2016 Farrel Pomini launched a laboratory


version of its compounding system (a continuous mixer that discharges into a single-screw extruder for pelletising). CPeX, the Laboratory Compact Processor, is a miniature version of the company’s production- scale mixer and is the smallest in the company’s range. Paul Lloyd, Business Director at Farrel Pomini, explains


that continuous mixers with counter-rotating and non-intermeshing rotors are a good alternative to twin-screw extruders for compounds and masterbatch- es with high filler loadings, abrasive (high wear) materials, and temperature-sensitive materials that require intensive mixing while maintaining low process- ing temperatures. As it is a two-stage machine (unlike a twin-screw extruder), the output rate of the extruder is independent of mixing. The laboratory machine also has the same fully functioning orifice as the production- sized machines to control fill level, which regulates the specific energy input to the material.


Continuous development The CPeX unit is designed for feasibility studies and other laboratory work and is targeted for rates of 10-30 kg/hr. “Previously, our smallest continuous mixer was the CP125 (125 kg/h), which was too high a rate for product development in some cases,” says Lloyd. The CPeX is said to be particularly useful for training centres and universities. While the laboratory CPeX is not designed for scale-up studies, scale-up from the CP125 to the larger continuous mixers is straight-forward, the company says. The CPeX is uniquely designed to allow


interchangeability between Farrel’s standard CP rotor and its CPXL rotor, which has a longer ratio (10:1) and offers tighter temperature control and increased


residence time. “These two rotor configura- tions each have benefits and now they can be


compared side by side for a given material,” says Lloyd. While most customers use the standard format, he says this comparative capability will allow them to better determine when the CPXL rotor would be beneficial. The CPeX uses a single-screw,


www.compoundingworld.com


Left: The ZE 28 BluePower laboratory extruder from KraussMaffei Berstorff is designed for development and small scale production work


December 2016 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 53


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