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31st July 2017, Bensheim

LFT Industry 4.0 at Fakuma

At the forthcoming Fakuma show for plastics processing, taking place in Friedrichshafen, Germany, ProTec will demonstrate the latest Industry 4.0 capabilities of its long fibre reinforced (LFT) pultrusion lines.

New LFT pellets, developed in-house by the company in Bensheim, Germany, are said to have excellent temperature stability, making them suitable for manufacturing parts for vehicle engine compartments.

RDM70 with conveying. © ProTec

The line’s full-featured PLC controllers for SOMOS  Batchmix dosing and mixing systems, the RDT-250 stationary resin dryer and RDM mobile dryers will be demonstrated. These product ranges have been progressively introduced with a new, uniform design which has met with rapid market acceptance and ProTec reports a very healthy order book, in particular from Germany and other European countries.

All of the SOMOS dryers and dosing units are fitted with network-compatible PLC controllers. The 6-inch colour touchscreens with graphic user interfaces ensure intuitive operation.

Once interlinked with injection moulding machines, extruders, peripheral components and conveyors using a wide variety of available interfaces, the components can communicate with one another in real time.

A SOMOS dosing unit’s PLC controller, for example, can control an extruder's throughput. SOMOS dryers can also stop an injection moulding machine from withdrawing material prematurely and so ensure that optimally dried material is supplied at exactly the right time for processing.

Batchmix open controller. © ProTec

If the PLC controllers receive error messages from other system components, they adapt their operations accordingly. In the reverse direction, the controllers transmit authorizations or report any faults. Numerous formulations can also be stored and retrieved from the internal storage devices of the dosing units and dryers. In addition, the controller can document all manufacturing parameters, ensuring end-to-end quality control and utter process reliability.

SOMOS Batchmix Industry 4.0 capable gravimetric dosing and mixing systems can handle throughputs of up to 1,920 kg/h. The only batch dosing units developed and manufactured in Germany, they can supply injection moulding machines and extruders with homogeneous mixtures of up to six flowable components. Weighing and mixing bins each fitted with two load cells ensure accurate, reproducible dosing. In addition to the Batchmix M and Batchmix L models, which will be shown at Fakuma, the range is rounded out with a third XL model for large throughputs.

The new resin dryers are also fitted with a PLC controller. Of the SOMOS stationary dry air dryers, it is the RDT-250 for moderate pellet throughputs of up to 200 kg/h which is being shown. Up to a maximum of six multi-chamber drying modules with capacities of between 50 l and 300 l can be combined to form a drying system.

Batchmix controller. © ProTec

The mobile auxiliary dryer range will be represented at Fakuma by the RDM-20/50, RDM-40/100 and RDM-70/200 models A sixth model has just recently been added to the top of the range, allowing throughputs of between 5 and 150 kg/h to now be handled. The mobile units, which comprise a dry air generator and single chamber drying bin, are particularly suitable for the versatile pre-processing of frequently changing pellet types.

All stationary and mobile RDT and RDM models offer drying temperatures of 60°C to 140°C as standard, with high temperature variants for up to 180°C being available as an option, which can also be retrofitted.

Smart energy-saving systems make the dryers particularly resource-efficient – drying air volume is matched to throughput and regeneration cycles are controlled on the basis of the actual water content of the pellets. The dryers are also simple to install, clean and maintain. Integrated dry air conveying for automatically charging processing machines is available as an option. Together with further ProTec conveying components, SOMOS mixers, dosing units and dryers can be combined to form complete materials handling solutions.

Pellets. © ProTec

The ProTec pultrusion line can produce up to 1,000 kg/h of high quality long fibre reinforced thermoplastic pellets. It is capable of producing a wide range of pelletized LFT compounds which can be converted by injection moulding into high-strength, lightweight components with very good surface quality. Each line is individually customised by ProTec and commissioned as a complete system.

Any conventional thermoplastics can be used as the matrix, while reinforcements can be provided by glass, steel, aramid and carbon fibres. Recycled material and additional fillers can also be included.

Compounders and suppliers are invited to try out ProTec’s LFT pultrusion lines with their own test formulations. This will be of particular interest to those working in the automotive and packaging industries and in the electrical, household, medical and sporting equipment sectors.

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