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MACHINERY | LAB COMPOUNDERS


Right: Lab extruders such as the ZSK 18 MEGAlab, must maintain the extruder geometry of larger produc- tion equipment, according to Coperion


elements or barrels made of special wear or corrosion resistant materials can be challenging. However, as long as they are not used as production lines like in the pharmaceutical industry, smaller extruders have less run time com- pared to production lines and so wear or corrosion often occurs more infrequently,” he says. Speed of cleaning and


fillers and explains that this underlines the value of carrying out laboratory trials. “Entek has recently invested heavily on


improvements to our in-house pilot PHOTO: COPERION


reconfiguration are also priority considerations, Schmudde says. “As laboratory equipment is often changed and rearranged for new requirements, easy handling can also often be an important factor. However, because mechanical forces are less compared with large scale extruders, special solutions for quick change screw couplings are possible for our small extruders, for example.”


Lab to production US-based machine builder Entek says it has sold laboratory compounding equipment to customers over the past few years that is required to meet both development and production needs. “R&D budgets can be tight but utilising a laboratory extruder for production for as much as one third of the year has helped justify the purchase of a machine,” says Dean Elliott, Technical Processing Manager at the company. “Flexibility is often crucial, so we have developed 48 or 52:1 L/D extruders with multiple barrels that are interchangeable to either vent, side feed or liquid inject.” Elliott says many customers —and potential customers — highlight the challenges they face in compounding different types of materials and


plant at our Lebanon, Oregon, head- quarters in the USA because this facility has become so important to both our own and our customers’ product devel- opment. Experimenting and running trials is really the best way to prove-out new material formulations, and it has led to several enhancements to our


machinery and equipment,” he says. ”We have also seen a trend towards slightly


larger laboratory extruders, for example Entek’s 27mm and new 33mm QC3


extruders. Customers


are impressed with the quick changeover features of these two sized extruders; this equates to more seamless and efficient changeover during trials and also between R&D and production cam- paigns,” he says. Entek’s QC3


(Quick Change, Quick Clean,


Quality Control) machine line includes 27mm, 33mm, and 43mm twin screw extruders and allows screw changes in five minutes or less. The ability to pull and replace the screws quickly and easily greatly reduces machine downtime, saving time and money. This is said to be particularly important in laboratory/small production runs. Future development at Entek also includes


training opportunities for customers running lab machines. “Laboratory compounders are some- times managed and operated by scientists and chemists who often do not have hands-on operator or mechanical knowledge,” says Elliott. “Providing training can be crucial to earning this business. Service contracts on laboratory compounders are


Entek has invested in its US pilot plant to help customers develop new production systems


18 COMPOUNDING WORLD | December 2018


Entek plans to offer dedicated training for lab staff that need to run compounding equipment


www.compoundingworld.com


PHOTO: ENTEK


PHOTO: ENTEK


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