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Extruders evolve for the New World

By Joy LePree |

Whether the application is reactive extrusion, pharmaceutical manufacturing, compounding or plastics processing, finding the sweet spot where increased efficiency, flexibility and lower capital expenditures are well balanced is the holy grail of today’s extruder operations. Most industries that employ extrusion are facing a very different market than what existed just a few years ago. This new marketplace is fraught with process challenges, including the development of new materials with different characteristics, more varieties of materials being run on one line, frequent changeovers from one product to the next and fierce market competition from overseas. Unfortunately, many processors have large production machines that were not designed for the rigors of the current marketplace. Older machines were created to be efficient when making continuous runs for days and weeks at a time, says Adam Dreiblatt, director of process technology at Century Extrusion (Traverse City, Mich.; www.centuryextrusion.com), but now they are running for only hours before they are stopped and changed over to accommodate the next product, and again turned on for just a few hours before they are stopped and changed over yet again. “Because of the…
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