Society of Plastics Engineers’ Annual Technical Conference is a wonderful way to learn about and keep up to date on all things extrusion. At Harkness we take this pretty seriously, who doesn’t love learning about new technology in our wonderful world of plastics. We especially enjoyed Allan Griff’s take on the conference, he did an amazing job of summing up all of this new information. Read his review on the major take-aways below:
Tiny. Very tiny nano-materials have been around for a long time now, and can be too easily pushed aside by processors as too expensive and exotic, suitable only for special uses. It ain’t necessarily so. The huge surface area they offer can mean big changes in gas and moisture barriers to many substances, in electrical and chemical properties and, in coextruded layers, surface properties, as well. A nanometer, by the way, is one billionth of a meter. Very tiny.
Bioplastics. The buzz about bioactive polymers is still around but fading, as we learn that the environmental benefits they appear to offer (their greenness, if you will) are wanted mainly by big retail brands to appeal to their consumer base, as long as they don’t cost too much or degrade product performance. This drags in some biobased polymers, too, which may or may not be bioactive. What I’m still looking for (but don’t expect to find at a public conference like this) is a fully biobased PET at no added cost compared with a petroleum-based material.
Lab equipment. As the SPE is heavily academized, the exhibition area had a lot of lab equipment, including a tiny twin-screw compounder making a testable filament from a few grams of polymer. My favorite lab tool was shown, too: A torque rheometer, which can show thermal stability as well as melting behavior and dynamic viscosity.
Screw design and materials. Several papers dealt with this topic, including what causes screws to break in service. This is most important to buyers of new and rebuilt equipment, who should discuss design, dimensions and materials of construction in advance, if possible. They also should consider specific resin properties (not just resin families like PE or PVC) and extruder operating conditions, and apply computer simulations where resin viscosities and machine size make it worthwhile. For the rest of us who use existing equipment, it is still good to measure what we have and to know what it can do, with and without
Read Alan’s full overview here