Specialty Mixing Equipment for the Plastics Industry
This article presents just a few examples of specialty mixing equipment used in plastics processing. Mixer selection is always formulation-dependent so partner with a reliable mixer supplier offering testing resources to validate a particular mixing strategy. For established processes, a careful re-evaluation of the mixing procedure will often reveal achievable steps for reducing not only cycle time and energy consumption but also waste/rejects, labor cost, cleaning and maintenance.
Polyvinyl alcohol solutions
Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH, also referred to as PVA) is a versatile polymer that plays multiple roles in the manufacture of adhesives, sealants, cosmetics, paper, textiles and many other products.
Multi-Shaft Mixers are widely used in the preparation of PVOH solutions. Equipped with two or more independently-driven agitators working in tandem, Multi-Shaft Mixers deliver a robust combination of high shear agitation and laminar bulk flow within a wide viscosity range: from water-like consistency to several hundred thousand centipoise (cP).
The most economical design is the Dual-Shaft Mixer which features an anchor agitator and a high speed disperser. Turning at tip speeds around 5,000 ft/min, the saw-tooth disperser blade creates a vigorous vortex that quickly wets out dry PVOH powders or pellets as they are added into warm or room-temperature water (a defoamer may be pre-blended into the water). The sweeping action of the low-speed anchor agitator enhances the exchange of materials within the vessel, continuously “feeding” the disperser blade with fresh product.
For added versatility and shear capability, a rotor/stator assembly may be supplied in addition to the disperser blade and anchor agitator. This Triple-Shaft Mixer design is particularly ideal for applications where other raw materials are dispersed into the PVOH solution and a very tight particle size distribution is required in the finished product.
Formulated for a wide variety of coating, molding and screen printing applications, plastisols are dispersions of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin in a liquid plasticizer. Fillers, additives and colorants are also typical components of plastisols.
Multi-Shaft Mixers are well-proven equipment in the manufacture of plastisols. But formulations that undergo very high viscosity peaks (above 1 million cP) are better prepared in Planetary Dispersers and Double Planetary Mixers. These machines consist of two or more blades which rotate on their respective axes as they revolve around the mix vessel. Unlike the agitators in a Multi-Shaft Mixer which rotate from a fixed axis, the blades in a planetary-style mixer continually advance into the batch and are thus able to continuously contact fresh product.
Polymers and additives
Polymer additives such as lubricants, UV and heat stabilizers, colorants, preservatives, flame retardants and impact modifiers are commonly supplied as dry powders or pellets which are blended with virgin plastic feedstock prior to compounding. Thorough and accurate mixing is necessary to achieve a consistent finished product.
Innovations in concrete paving with new technology
So far in 2016 there have been several major developments in the concrete paving equipment market. Many of the key players have introduced new models, broadening their ranges of machines on offer.
US firms continue to dominate this niche area of the construction equipment market, with one European company being the only other major international player.
At least two Chinese manufacturers have unveiled concrete pavers in the last few years. But these have not been proven on the international market and the designs may not suit global requirements, as well as having fewer capabilities and options than western models. The proven players from the US and Europe have all embraced 3D machine control technology for their machines, allowing these units to deliver high efficiency onsite but it is not clear if the Chinese machines are able to use these systems. For some time to come, the US and European firms will continue to lead this market.
GOMACO has a particularly strong presence in the concrete paving market and is looking to retain that position with the unveiling of two new slipformers, the GP3 and the latest version of its GT-3300.
The firm claims that the GP3 features a wide array of high performance capabilities, making it the most intelligent paver on the market. This paver can handle large road and runway jobs and offers a maximum paving width of 9.14m, achieved through the development of a novel dual-telescoping system. The firm has designed the frame widening system so that it is capable of multiple width changes, boosting its adaptability for a wide range of operations.
The description of the equipment and process may not reveal the significant role that the asphalt milling machine plays in road construction, but it is key.
The asphalt milling machine — also known as a cold planer, pavement planer, pavement recycler, or roto-mill — is a construction machine used to remove bituminous pavement or asphalt concrete from roadways. The result is a somewhat rough but even surface that can immediately be opened to traffic.
The milled surface is accomplished by bringing a rotating mandrel or “head” into contact with the pavement at an exact depth or slope. The mandrel has hundreds of hardened spikes or teeth on its surface, which bite and cut away at the roadway’s surface. The surface material that is removed is normally fed by conveyor into a dump truck or semi trailer, but can be left in place or windrowed to be removed or recycled later. A water spray system provides cooling for the mandrel, as well as dust management.
In the 1970’s, Galion Iron Works, based in Galion, Ohio, manufactured the first production road milling machines, which were called Galions. These first units resembled motorgraders in shape and size. The difference was there was a 30-in. wide (76 cm) milling head where the scraper blade would normally be. The cutter drum was set into action by a large hydraulic pump.
Asphalt milling is the process of grinding up asphalt that can then be recycled. The process came about because many streets were getting layered higher and higher as new surfaces were added, thus reducing the curb height and creating roadway drainage problems.
Early milling machines were simply a mining mandrel attached to a mobile undercarriage. They were designed to remove a layer of old concrete or asphalt so that a new layer could be applied to a better quality base than resurfacing over the old road surface.
From the start, the emphasis for milling machines was to place more power to the cutting drum, which is needed to remove more material. Thus, the cutter head itself and the cutting teeth designs became critical. The cutting teeth would dull fairly quickly and needed frequent replacement. The replacement process could cause enough downtime to greatly detract from the initial efficiency of the milling process itself. So manufacturers worked on designs for quicker replacement as well as increased durability of the cutting teeth. Different sized cutting drums were offered so that machines could mill at different widths.
Milling machines feature conveyor systems to collect the material during the milling process, thus reducing the labor of picking the material up from the roadway. Newer machines require two or more people to operate safely and efficiently. The operator stands on the deck of the machine and controls most of the machine’s functions, while a worker on the ground controls the depth of the cut and keeps an eye out for obstructions in the roadway such as manholes and/or water valves.
Today’s machines are bigger and more technologically advanced. They are designed to handle any asphalt aggregates in use today. Depending on the depth of the cut, some of the larger machines can cut close to 15,000 sq. yds. (13,000 sq m) a day, at 75 ft. (22.8 m) per minute.
In addition to faster speed, added precision to the milling process has become important. The innovation of controls and automation has brought greater precision for controlling slope, depth and speed.
There is no question that the technological advancements made in microelectronics have benefited road milling machines. Electronics designed to improve performance, include electronic sensors and a built-in cross slope. A pair of sensors can read a variety of references from 12 to 55 in. (30.5 to 140 cm) directly below the bottom of the sensor. Each sensor can be calibrated and adjusted from the ground level or at the operator’s console.