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MACHINERY | ALTERNATIVE EXTRUDERS


natural fibres, nanoparticles to improve properties, stabilisers and plasticisers. Another trend is that computer aided modelling of the compounding process will positively influence R&D work and customer trials.” Wolfgang Walter, Buss Head of Design and Engineering, also highlights specific issues faced by compounders. These include the treatment of low bulk density additives that tend to limit throughput rates, while extremely high filler loadings challenge torque and temperature profiles. In addition, there are challenges with the dispersion of new fillers, such as nanoparticles in highly viscous matrices such as rubber. Finally, new regulations in the fields of health and the environ- ment require production technology to be adapted or to be replaced by new technologies developed to cope with the new constraints.


Overcoming limitations “We are overcoming these previously conflicting compounding tasks, such as gentle mixing at a high specific throughput, by introducing a compounder series featuring screw elements with 2-6 rows of kneading flights,” says Max Guntern, Leading Process Engineer at Buss in charge of new develop- ment. “Other technical developments include overcoming feeding limitations by a combination of improved venting and use of twin-screw side-feed- ers to feed fluidising materials. We have also solved potential temperature issues during pressure build-up for pelletising by introducing a conical, counter-rotating twin screw discharge. Finally, we have improved the lifetime of wear parts by using new material combinations, reduced screw RPM and further mechanical adaptations.” Buss introduced its Compeo compounder series


at the recent NPE, Plast and Compounding World Expo exhibitions. The company says the develop- ment of the machine series was preceded by a market survey involving 80 compounding compa- nies in Europe and North America. This allowed the compilation of key industry requirements that have been worked into the design of this new kneader series. The Compeo series covers an extremely wide


range of applications, ranging from traditional shear and temperature-sensitive compounding of PVC and cable compounds, through reinforced PE and PP to high temperature engineering plastics. The design is said to consolidate the benefits of its previous kneader series, including robustness, high performance, opera- tional safety, easy handling, application flexibility and reduced maintenance cost, in a single modular


18 COMPOUNDING WORLD | October 2018


compounder series. This is achieved through a number of new developments including novel screw geometries and state-of-the-art control system. The Compeo also comes with a new discharge concept - a conical, counter-rotating low rpm twin-screw unit with degassing option. The modular design allows the new machine to be configured for specific compounding applica- tions. Typically, polymer, additives and some fillers would be fed through a first intake to a processing zone. Molten polymer and additives are mixed in a melting zone. Further fillers are added in a second feed zone and distributed homogeneously into the downstream mixing zone. A degassing zone, allows volatiles and air to be removed before transfer to the discharge unit. The specific compounding application defines the processing length, type and number of feeders, temperature, degassing and process geometries.


Niche opportunities Opportunities for kneading technology exist in niches, according to Hans-Ulrich Siegenthaler at the consultancy Kneading Experts. These include smaller and tailor-made lots, recipes with high variability and raw materials choices, integrated solutions for recycling (the Cradle to Cradle concept), integration of Industry 4.0 concepts for compounded products, and addressing higher requirements due to stricter regulations. Siegenthaler adds that all these trends can cause lower availability due to an increased number of changeovers, with a greater availability of lines required and often whole plants required for a task. This can be addressed by increased flexibility and modularity concepts. These include quick release systems for all connections on the extruder and upstream and downstream equipment. In


Right: Accessibility is a key feature of the new Compeo kneader extruder from Buss


PHOTO: BUSS


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