More than 300 million tons of plastic is produced every year, and much of it ends up causing environmental problems. In response to these challenges, there are widespread global efforts to increase recycling capacity and innovate for more efficient and effective recycling solutions. Vacuum plays a critical role in achieving these improvements.
The basic function of vacuum degassing is to remove the vaporized gas and moisture from the extruded material. During the extrusion process, as raw materials melt under heat and pressure inside the extruder. The polymer chains and chemical compositions are going through changes, and a variety of gases are released.
Wintek Corporation was contacted by a plastics manufacturing company in the summer of 2015 to evaluate their process vacuum capabilities. The customer was looking to replace a recently purchased used vacuum system to be used in a PET solid state polymerization/drying application. The process required high heat and vacuum and needed to run at 1 mBarA (0.75 Torr). The customer had purchased the dryer and accompanying vacuum system from an overseas supplier. While they were happy with the dryer, the vacuum system was not delivering the desired performance.
A long-held practice in the plastics industry is the use of high-speed, dilute-phase pneumatic conveying to deliver plastic resins to plant processes even if those same materials are the kind that can create problems ranging from excessive dust to damaged resins and more. All the while, slower-speed conveyance is normally unthinkable given production goals and the potential for plugged conveyor lines.
Choosing the right vacuum supply can lead to huge cost savings in plastics processing. Mar-Bal, Incorporated has undertaken a critical review of the existing vacuum supply for injection molding when moving to a new plant and has collaborated with Busch, LLC to find a solution that will achieve savings in energy, maintenance and production times.
Intertape Polymer Group (IPG) is a manufacturer of tapes, films, woven fabrics, and complementary packaging systems for industrial and consumer use. The company operates 10 production plants and employs approximately 1,800 people. IPG has developed a robust energy management program by using ENERGY STAR energy management tools and actively participating in the ENERGY STAR partnership. IPG is receiving ENERGY STAR recognition for the growth of its energy program and leadership as a medium-sized manufacturer.
Stretch blow molding equipment requires a significant amount of energy—both compressed air and electrical—to produce bottles. Creating an effective and efficient process, as well as monitoring and maintaining optimal process settings, can result in significant energy cost reduction. These efforts will also help produce containers that meet all of the required quality standards.
Two years ago, sales were picking up and we began operating six extrusion lines on most days. We had to bring in some portable chillers, to keep up, and we started looking at buying a larger cooling system. We wanted to get rid of the portable chillers and have room to grow into four more extrusion lines. The new system we looked at was a 100-ton system that would have cost us around $150,000 in capital and installation and with a larger monthly electricity bill.
We were about to buy the new 100-ton chiller when our President, Abe Gaskins said, “Hold-on, can we replace the Liquid Ring pumps with something that doesn’t consume water”? That was our “Eureka!” moment.
Over the last several decades, Air Power USA has reviewed many various types of plastic injection molding operations throughout the U.S.