The Conair Extrusion Development & Testing Lab

Lab dedicated entirely to extrusion development

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  • One of the industry’s most advanced extrusion labs
  • Testing and optimizing of complete extrusion lines
  • Staffed by experienced full-time process engineers

One of the most advanced plastics extrusion laboratories in the world is now fully equipped and staffed, and process development and testing is underway. Built by the Conair extrusion group, in part to help in the engineering and testing of its own downstream extrusion equipment, the facility also allows Conair to help customers to increase productivity.

Production-scale extruders manufactured by various industry brands

Conair has always had one of the industry’s most advanced extrusion labs. Now, however, the recent opening of an extrusion-equipment manufacturing facility in Pinconning, Michigan, has allowed the company to create an 742-sq-m (8,000-sq-ft) lab, dedicated entirely to extrusion development and testing.

The Conair Extrusion Development & Testing Lab houses four production-scale extruders manufactured by various industry brands and it is staffed by three experienced full-time process engineers:

• Dave Czarnik, who manages the operation, is a tooling expert with 25 years of plastics experience and 21 years working in downstream extrusion for Conair. He holds five extrusion-related patents.
• Brian Hilton, a downstream application expert, has 22 years in the plastics industry and 14 years with Conair.
• Tony Sowiecki – 17 years of extrusion experience working for material suppliers, processors and Conair.

In addition to conducting FAT (Factory Authorized Testing) to confirm that a new extrusion line can meet performance guarantees, the lab also conducts trials for extrusion companies. Finally, Conair uses the lab to develop and improve the downstream systems it manufactures. For instance, recent work has been focused on online gauging and adaptive control for extrusion of precision medical tubing, including cardiac and brain catheters. However, the products being tested could just as easily be larger equipment for extrusion of siding, pipe or profiles.

Maximizing the productivity of the entire line

Most extruder manufacturers have lab facilities, but often they are preoccupied with optimizing the extruder. Conair’s lab is more adapted to evaluating and maximizing the performance and productivity of the entire line, including downstream equipment and even auxiliary systems like dryers, loaders, blenders and heat-transfer equipment.

Extensive capabilities

The extruders installed have available features like:
• Product-specific screws
• Melt pumps
• High-temperature capabilities (for FEP, PEEK, etc.)
• Discrete Controls
• Microprocessor Controls

The lab also is equipped with in-line gauging equipment, including:
• Three-axis laser gauge
• Four-transducer wall unit
• Data acquisition package
• Beta LaserMike Laser Speed 9000

Also available is the latest in vacuum-sizing tank technology:
• Closed loop vacuum system
• Water temperature control system (single and dual zone)
• Flip-up precision roller system
• Easy-clean feature for medical applications
• External water level adjustment
• Vacuum-chamber-mounted wall gauge mounted digital remote pot with readout

Belt puller and cutter technology is available which includes:
• Full taper/bubble tube capabilities
• Dual servo-drive puller for extremely precise speed control
• Scrap modes
• Full gauge interface control potential
• Cutting modes to allow any cutting, including angle cuts

Internal air regulators available include:
• High speed analog (0-10 VDC) air regulators (Zumbach)
• Capabilities to integrate both internal air and vacuum sizing

Picture: The Conair Extrusion Development & Testing Lab houses four production scale extruders and is staffed by three experienced full-time process engineers.

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