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Tips for Optimizing Twin-Screw Extruder Performance

Bert Elliott, Engineering Manager


Leistritz
169 Meister Avenue
Somerville, New Jersey 08876

Tel: (908) 685-2333


Email: sales@alec-usa.com
Introduction
There are many techniques known to operators and plant engineers for
increasing the performance of an extruder. Because of their informal nature,
however, most of these methods do not appear in any equipment manuals. Nor
are they generally mentioned in textbooks and technical papers. But sometimes
attention to several small details can add up to making a big difference in
extruder performance.

The tips described in this paper fall into three broad categories:

A) Processing techniques
B) Machine modifications
C) Maintenance procedures

Tip #1: Install a thermal insulator gasket after the feed barrel

The feed barrel in almost all cases is water cooled. But because this barrel is
bolted flange-to-flange up against barrel #2, which is heated, heat is continuously
transferred from the hotter barrel to the cooler barrel. As a result, barrel #2 is
often not able to maintain a high enough temperature. In a typical case, the
operator has a setpoint of 180C for barrel #2, but it can never get above 135C
because of heat loss to the feed barrel.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to install an insulator gasket between
the flanges of the feed barrel and barrel #2. These gaskets are typically 1mm
thick, and its recommended to stack two together for better insulating
performance. There will still be some heat conduction through the bolts, and of
course the screw shafts, but not nearly as much as without the insulation.

New extruders are often supplied with the insulator in place, but many operators
dont realize the importance of it and throw it away when disassembling the
barrels. Also, after several years the insulator gasket should be replaced, as the
material tends to degrade and crumble.

Thermal insulator gasket


Tip #2: Set zones 1 and 2 to higher temperatures to decrease wear of
plasticating screw elements

In most plastic extrusion processes, the first task (after feeding) is to melt the
material. This must be done relatively quickly, in a short amount of machine
length, to leave adequate extruder length for following process tasks. In order to
continuously plasticate cold materials which are introduced to the machine, a
large amount of energy must be imparted to the material. This energy can come
from only two sources:

A) Mechanical energy (friction, shearing, kneading, squeezing, etc)

or:

B) Heat

In a twin-screw extruder, both mechanical energy and heat are acting on the
material. But many operators rely too much on mechanical brute force, and
dont use heat effectively. Running the process this way causes the extruder to
use too much torque just for melting, resulting in less torque available for other
process tasks. Also, usually this causes rapid wear of the first kneader group,
because it is being forced to do a disproportionate share of the melting work.

Many people ask: why do screw elements wear, when the material isnt that
abrasive? This can be understood from Newtons 3rd law, which says that for
every force, there is an equal force acting in the opposite direction. So if the
kneader lobe is pressing against the cold pellets, the pellets are also pressing
against the kneader lobe.

Many customers set zones 1,2, and 3 at too low a temperature, which means the
energy for melting must come primarily from mechanical work. If these zones
are set to higher temperatures, it will lessen the workload on the first kneader
group, thus reducing the wear rate.

The reason most customers do not set the temperatures higher is because they
dont want a high melt temperature. But in fact the melt temperature will not be
any higher, as the material is moving through the plasticating zones in a matter of
seconds. It is common to have a barrel setpoint of 250C in order to transfer a
lot of energy into the material to cause it to melt, but end up with a melt at 180C.
Plasticating zones 1 thru 3

Tip #3: Side stuffing of powders

Side stuffing is widely used with twin-screw extruders for feeding of various
fillers. Many processors desire very high % loadings of fillers, many of which are
low bulk density (fluffy) materials. The ultimate % which is attainable is usually
limited by two parameters:

A) Volumetric capacities of the side stuffer and main extruder screws


B) Venting capacity, to allow air to escape the extruder

The volumetric capacity is based on the free volume geometry of the side stuffer
screws, as well as the main extruder screws, and of course the RPM of both sets
of screws. Usually if a test is made running the material through only the side
stuffer (with the stuffer unbolted from the extruder, discharging into a drum), it will
easily feed a high rate of material. But when the stuffer is attached to the
extruder, capacity is often limited by the amount of material the main extruder
screws can accept.

In terms of extruder screw design, it is best to have flighted elements with a long
pitch (long flight advance) at the stuffer location, extending 2 to 4D downstream
of the stuffer. This is to keep the melt material in the extruder moving rapidly
forward, to allow the maximum free volume for the filler to enter. If the screw
design causes any dam-up of material downstream of the stuffer, this will
severely limit the amount of filler which can be fed.
Side stuffing of powders

Important factors:

Back-venting: The object of venting is to allow air to escape easily, while


preventing large amounts of filler being lost out the vent. The best configuration
for this is to have a top vent in the barrel immediately upstream of the side
stuffing barrel. Sometimes a small -slot vent insert can also be used in the top
of the side stuffing barrel.

Feeder drop height: Ideally the feeder should be positioned as close as possible
above the side stuffer, to minimize the drop height. If a fluffy material is allowed
to drop through air, it becomes aerated to the point where the bulk density is
significantly reduced. This can have a net effect of limiting the throughput rate of
the entire line.

Feeder agitation type: Make sure the agitator in the filler feeder isnt aerating
the material, reducing the bulk density. Many feeder manufacturers have
special agitator designs for powders, to preserve bulk density.

Make sure stuffer hopper is vented: Along with the filler, the stuffer also
introduces a lot of air into the extruder. This air has to come from somewhere.
If you have an open top on the side stuffer chute, then venting is already taken
care of. If you have a solid cover on the chute with a round stubup and flex
connector to the feeder, its important to also have a vent opening.

Ground all hoppers/chutes to drain static electricity: Some materials generate


static electricity from friction. If static is present, it can cause powder to cling to
the inside surfaces of hoppers and chutes, leading to problems such as caking.
If you think this could be happening, an easy fix is to run a ground wire (10 gauge
wire is recommended) from the chute to a known good ground on the machine
frame.
Compressed air blaster: If caking persists, sometimes a special solution is
needed. Hopper vibrators can be used, but are tricky to size and mount.
Another device which can be used is a blaster. This consists of air jet nozzles
strategically placed within the wall of the chute, directed to break up any cakes
before they get too large. The air jets get connected to a solenoid valve using
poly tubing, and the solenoid valve is actuated by a repeat cycle timer. This way
you can set both the blast period and dwell time in between blasts. Just
upstream of the solenoid valve its best to have a small air accumulator tank, to
provide a sharp pulse of air.

Drop chute with air jet nozzles

Tip #4: Insulate melt pipes and dies

Very few processors insulate their melt pipe adapters and dies. The reason is
because the machine didnt come from the factory with insulation, it takes some
extra effort, and it is difficult to see the benefit. But if your control system has
temperature trending capability, the benefit can easily be demonstrated.

As an example, take a heat zone actual temperature which is cycling up and


down all the time. The trend looks like a sine wave. Now if you wrap the melt
pipe section with insulation, youll find the temperature trend is much more like a
straight line. The reason is because youve greatly slowed heat transfer from
the melt pipe to the environment, so the temperature stays the same all the time.
If the temperature doesnt fall over time from heat loss, the heater contactor
doesnt have to come on. If you can prevent the melt pipe from cooling and then
needing heat cyclically, the temperature trend is going to be much smoother.

An exposed, heated steel part like a melt pipe loses a large quantity of heat to
the surrounding environment via radiation and convection. This can easily be
demonstrated by standing 12 or so away from a heated melt pipe or die. You
can feel heat emanating from the melt pipe, even though you are not touching it.
There are some other benefits to insulating melt pipes. Because it slows heat
loss, insulation will tend to make all portions of the melt pipe the same
temperature. This has the effect of eliminating cold spots from uneven heater
coverage. Another benefit is faster initial heat-up times.

Another important benefit is that insulation makes the equipment safer for
operators. Burns are the most frequent injury around plastics equipment. If an
operator accidentally leans against a melt pipe which is wrapped with insulation,
he or she will probably not be injured.

Melt pipe wrapped with insulation

Tip #5: Die lip buildup

Die lip buildup is a common problem. With a strand die, lip buildup may be only
a minor annoyance, but in film and sheet extrusion it is a major problem.

Ways to minimize buildup:

Keep die exit and outer face ground smooth. If the die has baked-on
layers of old polymers and pigments, this will encourage new material to
adhere. Remove the die from the machine, and take it to a machine shop
that has a surface grinder. Have all the outer surfaces near the material
exit ground. This will remove all the old baked-on material deposits, as
well as clean up nicks and gouges in the steel. After grinding it should
look like a new steel surface.
Coat outer lip surfaces with mold release. Mold release is designed to
prevent plastic materials from adhering to steel. It does a good job, but
doesnt last long on the surface. Operators have to get in the habit of
reapplying it often.
Install a vacuum box to suction away vapors. Some materials cause a lot
of smoke and solvent vapors to be released at the die exit. If these vapors
arent taken away rapidly, they will leave a sticky residue on the die face,
which is the beginning phase of die lip buildup. The way to take vapors
away quickly is to position a hood or vacuum ductwork over the die. The
suction duct should be positioned as close as possible to the die exit, and
should be designed with enough CFM airflow to cause vapors to be
vacuumed away quickly.
Reduce die/melt temperature. With most materials, high melt
temperatures make a buildup problem worse, and cooler temperatures
make it better. A cooler melt is generally less sticky and volatile, which
causes less buildup.
Try various additives. Materials suppliers which sell additives sometimes
have a special package to aid in preventing die lip buildup. Stearates
have been known to be especially effective.

Die lip buildup

Die lip buildup

Tip #6 Change to a high pressure pump for more efficient barrel cooling

In the study of fluid dynamics, its well known that turbulent flow in a pipe will
induce far greater heat transfer from the pipe wall, as compared to laminar flow.
Laminar flow is present in the case of low fluid velocities, caused by low pressure
delivery. In a laminar flow situation, a stable boundary layer develops, which
acts just like an insulator between the main fluid flow and the pipe wall. Layers
of fluid slide over adjacent layers, without crossing over each other. What this
means is that the water flows all the way through the barrel without removing
much heat.

With turbulent flow caused by high pressure delivery, there is a high degree of
transverse momentum exchange, which breaks up the boundary layer. As a
result, the violent fluid motion causes much greater heat transfer from the pipe
wall to the fluid.
Given the fixed geometry of the extruders cooling system, the easiest way to
induce turbulent flow in the barrel cooling bores is to increase the delivery
pressure. There are a wide variety of cooling recirculation systems used for
extruders, with supply pressures typically ranging from 20 psi to 60 psi. To
achieve turbulent flow, a pressure of approximately 120 psi is desired. This can
be attained relatively easily by changing the pump in the recirculation system to a
high pressure type. Almost all extruder cooling system components (hoses and
valves) are rated for at least 150 psi, so 120 psi still provides some factor of
safety.

The advantage will be immediately apparent with a process which is highly


exothermic. Zone overrides can often be greatly reduced or even eliminated. A
side benefit of turbulent flow is that it inhibits fouling of the cooling bores from
scale build-up.

Laminar and turbulent flow through a pipe

Tip #7: Set barrel cooling water temperature at 120F

Many people tend to think because the function of the water is to cool the barrels,
the water should be as cold as possible. But to an extruder barrel at 420F, even
water at 180F is cool, and water at 55F is absolutely frigid!

The problem with running very cold process water is that it can cause
overcooling, which frequently shows up as zones cycling up and down, in a
sawtooth pattern. The reason: the temperature in the barrel rises normally until
the controller calls for cooling, opening the solenoid valve. When the valve
opens, even for only a short duration, the cold water removes too much heat.
This causes the temperature to plummet below setpoint, which turns on the
heater again.
For most plastics processes a water temperature of approximately 120F seems
to work well. With a higher water temperature the cooling rate will be slower,
and less likely to overcool. The result will be smoother temperature control.

Heat zone trend chart showing overcooling

Tip #8: Acid flushing of barrel cooling bores

Water-cooled extruder barrels are heat exchangers, and like all other heat
exchangers the coolant bores are subject to fouling from scale buildup. Most
operators notice that the cooling performance of a new extruder is much better
than an extruder after 3 or 4 years of running. This is because the new extruder
barrel has smooth, shiny fresh-drilled cooling bores. The older machine has a
layer of crusty mineral deposits lining the bores, that effectively act like an
insulator.

If left unchecked, scale build-up can lead to a much more serious problem than
reduced cooling. Eventually the cooling bores can become completely blocked,
and zero water flow means a lack of cooling ability. If this happens, the only
solution is to remove the barrels from the extruder and drill out all the cooling
boresa time consuming procedure.
Barrel having clogged cooling bores drilled out

There is a simple preventive maintenance procedure to avoid these problems


and keep the extruder cooling efficiency like new. The recommended procedure
is to circulate a scale removal chemical through the barrels periodically. With
production extruders, this is recommended to be done every 3 to 4 months. On a
lab extruder seeing much less use, probably once every 2 years is sufficient.

Many of the tower and chiller manufacturers make a small, inexpensive


recirculating de-scaler unit on a roll-around cart, with an integral reservoir and
pump. This unit is designed specifically for flushing out mold cooling passages,
and is also ideal for extruder barrels.

Tip #9: Laser barrel alignment

In the old days, extruder barrels were aligned simply with a machinsts level. Or,
as in the case of single screw extruders, an optical borescope. But unlike a
single screw machine, a twin-screw extruder doesnt have an open bore through
the gearbox, so a borescope cant be used.

The most accurate way to align a twin-screw extruder is with a laser. The laser
is mounted concentrically to one of the gearbox output shafts in a holding collar,
and the laser light is projected all the way down the barrel to a target mounted on
the discharge flange. The end target is made from clear Lexan, and has vertical
and horizontal crosshairs etched into it. When the extruder is aligned, the laser
dot will appear in the exact intersection of the crosshairs. If the dot is not in the
center, the barrel supports are adjusted to bring it into alignment.

Extruders dont need to be checked for alignment on a periodic basis, but there
are some specific situations when its advisable:
If the extruder has been moved to a new location
If the concrete floor is settling, causing uneven support of the extruder
If screws or barrels are wearing at an abnormally high rate, or wearing in
an abnormal pattern
If shafts keep breaking for unexplained reasons
If the machine vibrates more than normal
If the screws are difficult to slide in/out of couplings
If somebody changed the barrel support adjusters
If the machine has been hit with a forklift (yes, it happens!)

Barrel laser alignment

Tip #10: Switch to synthetic gear oil

The gearbox is the heart of a twin-screw extruder. If it fails, its likely to be


expensive to repair, and it may take quite awhile. There is one thing everyone
can do, easily, to avoid gearbox problems: switch to synthetic gear oil.
Synthetic oil is a huge advancement in lubrication technology, offering the
following benefits:

Synthetic oil is slipperyer, causing less friction


Gears, bearings, and seals last longer
Gearbox runs cooler and quieter
Synthetic oil doesnt lose viscosity from mechanical shearing
Maintains higher viscosity at high temperatures
Improves overall efficiency of the gearbox
Reduction gearbox with damaged gears

Tip #11: Anti-Seize

Most people in the plastics industry are aware of the need to use anti-seize.
There are several different types of anti-seize, Copper-based, Moly, Lithium, etc.
For something like a bolt thread probably any type will work. But there is one
application within the extruder where the choice of anti-seize is much more
critical: the spline shafts.

Screw elements fit onto the spline shafts with a very small gap tolerance, plus
low viscosity polymers tend to creep down between adjacent elements and get
into this gap. With time and heat, this polymer forms a high strength adhesive
just like an epoxy. If screws are left together in an extruder without being taken
apart periodically, they can be extremely difficult to remove from the shafts. This
is why the choice of anti-seize is so important.

Many types of anti-seize are acceptable for a short period of time, but over long
periods at high temperature, they degrade into a fine powder. This makes them
a poor choice for spline shafts, where you need the anti-seize to perform when
youre ready to disassemble the screws, months or years after applying the anti-
seize.

After testing all the anti-seize brands on the market over a period of many years,
Leistritz has found one which is ideal for this application: Fuchs Gleitmo 820,
manufactured by Fuchs Lubricants. Gleitmo 820 is a white grease containing
high solids, with very slippery qualities. Its rated for 1,150C. What makes it
perfect for spline shafts is that it doesnt degrade into a powder. When the
screw elements are removed after months of use, the Gleitmo 820 is still a
slippery grease.
Fuchs Lubricants is a German-based company, but they have distributors in the
U.S. and a website with technical information.

Anti-seize on spline shafts

Tip #12: Purging techniques

Purging is a technique widely used as an easy way to clean out materials from
the extruder and die, to avoid a time-consuming stripdown cleaning There are
many types of materials used for purging, with both commercial purge products
and home engineered purges being used extensively.

Purge materials generally fall into two categories: chemical purges, and
mechanical abrasive purges. Many materials combine both chemical and
abrasive actions.

Chemical purges work by attacking the plastic residue like a solvent. Many of
them also incorporate a foaming action, and are intended to be run to fill the
machine, and then the extruder drive is shut off for 5 minutes, to allow the
chemical action to work. The the drive is then restarted to run the purge out of
the front end.

Mechanical abrasive purges work by scouring and scrubbing material off the
metal surfaces, using friction and shear.

Most processors do a lot of trial and error experimentation to find the right purge
material and technique. Since there is such a wide variety of plastic and filler
materials run, no magic purge material is going to work best for all materials.

Cost is also a factor. Commercial purge products are generally more expensive
per pound than home engineered purges. But of course if you can use less
material with the commercial purge, or get the job done quicker, maybe the total
cost is actually less.
Probably the most important habit to get into is to purge often. The object is to
prevent old materials from being baked on to the metal surfaces. Once this
happens, purging will generally not be able to remove the material, and a manual
stripdown cleaning will be the only remedy.

One mistake many processors make is to run the purge only at a fixed screw
RPM. Its much more effective to vary the screw RPM, alternating from low to
medium to high RPMs, running for perhaps 30 seconds at each speed. This
induces different shear rates against the metal surfaces, helping to dislodge old
material from the walls.

Screw set being pulled from extruder after purging

Tip #13: Home-brewed extruder/die cleanout methods

Processors have run all sorts of materials through extruders, in the quest for a
cheap and effective purge material. For instance, in the Midwest USA many
operators use cow corn, because its readily available and does a fairly good job
of scouring the machine out. There are two of these homemade purges which
are particularly good:

Mix #1: 50% poly, 50% Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is actually finely milled fossilized shells of tiny sea


organisms. It is used in gardening among other things, so it is readily available in
garden supply stores. Diatomaceous Earth looks like a fine powder, but on a
microscopic scale the particles have very sharp, angular edges, which produces
a scouring action. Processors who run sheet and film use this purge, as it can
sometimes get rid of die lines, saving a time-consuming die teardown.

Mix #2: Poly with Kitchen Cleanser and water


Mix a slurry of water and 3 or 4 cans of Comet or Ajax kitchen cleanser in a
bucket. Feed poly at a normal purging rate and temperatures, and slowly pour
the slurry into the main feed port. (Safety note: Warn any operators nearby
that steam may be discharged from extruder openings. Do not look into
die or vents unless wearing a full polycarbonate face shield and long
sleeved shirt) The water in the slurry will flash to steam, which gives a very
good cleaning effect combined with the abrasive in the kitchen cleanser.

Tip #14: Efficient color/product changeovers

Color or product changeovers tend to create problems. Extrusion people would


ideally like to always have nice long runs. But in the real world, demands from
customers mean frequent changeovers to make 80 lbs. of Product A, followed by
200 lbs. of Product B, etc. So it is important to approach changeovers in a way
to minimize operator effort and problems.

Know how critical cleanliness is to the next product to be run. There are
anecdotes around any extrusion shop of somebody purging for 16 hours,
to avoid pulling the screws to brush them off. The point is, if you know
the next product requires a thorough manual brush-cleaning, dont waste
time and material trying to get by with purging.
If possible, plan runs in order of decreasing cleanliness requirements. In
terms of colors, this means from lightest to darkest. This should make it
so you only face one difficult changeover, when going from the dark color
back to a light color.
Have written purging or strip-down procedures to run each product. This
helps operators plan their time, and eliminates discussions later on about
X lbs. of product has to be scrapped because the operator didnt clean
the machine properly.
Use the right size extruder for the lot size. This may seem obvious, but
many processors dont plan runs for the right machine, and end up
running a 500 lb. lot on a 75mm extruder, producing 300 lbs. of scrap
while getting it to run correctly.
Help operators by organizing the necessary tools, cleaning supplies,
screens, die plates, etc. out near the extruder. If frequent changeovers
are required, set up a workstation to have everything the operator needs
right by his side.
Study raw material/end product flow in and out of the process area. Try to
arrange it to minimize operator effort. The less operators have to hoist
drums and gaylords around the more they can concentrate on maximizing
running time.

Tip #15: Warm-up/cool down procedures to avoid degradation

Warm-up:

Extrusion people tend to keep the machinery hot, all the time. Operators typically
turn the heat zones on the minute they come in the plant at 7:00am. If youre
really going to start the extruder at 8:00am, theres nothing wrong with this. But
many times people get distracted with maintenance chores, and the extruder sits
idle, heated to full operating temperature for hours at a time.

The reason this is a bad practice, is because it allows polymer to bake onto the
screws and barrels. Once baked on, the material will continue to degrade and
carbonize. Purging will not remove this material. Even worse, as the extruder
is running product, black specks will periodically flake off the screws and barrels,
contaminating the product and causing customer complaints.

The best way to handle warm-up is to plan the time you really want to start
running the extruder. Then start heating up only as far ahead of this time to
allow for complete warm-up plus adequate soak time.

Cooldown:

There are preferred shutdown procedures also, to avoid problems with black
specks. Before shutting the extruder down, its good practice to fill the extruder
and die to the maximum degree of fill with some inert polymer such as HDPE, to
seal the machine. The HDPE displaces oxygen, and coats the metal surfaces
to greatly slow down oxidation and formation of carbon.

After the extruder has been sealed, it is better to crash cool the machine, rather
than let it cool from ambient air over the next 18 hours. A crash cool involves
turning all the temperature setpoints down to zero, to force the cooling solenoid
valves to open. With the coolant pump running, this will force cool water through
all the barrels, bringing the temperature down quickly. A quick cooldown also
doesnt give the polymer a chance to degrade and carbonize.

Screw set showing baked on degraded polymer


Tip #16: Key process indicators

Most extruder operators tend to be like the old time pilots, preferring to fly by the
seat of their pants. And many of them have excellent instincts for knowing when
the process is running right, and when it is not. But as products get to be more
complex, with tighter processing windows, it is much better to have some kind of
quantitative way of assessing how the machine is running.

A common example of this is when the operator is convinced something is


different about the material. The line is just not running the same. If the material
supplier is contacted, theyre probably going to say their QC records show that
the material is the same as its always been. Without some real numbers, how
can you prove to the material supplier, as well as yourself, that the material is
indeed different?

Indicator #1: Specific Throughput: kg/hr. 4RPM = kg. per hour per RPM

Specific Throughput gives you a number which is proportional to the degree of


fill. Degree of fill is useful especially if records are kept over a period of time for
many different products, as it can help you predict how best to run a new
product. It also helps you plan machine hours, as a product which needs to run
at a low degree of fill will take longer to run a certain lot size. Finally, degree of
fill is helpful in scaling up (or down) runs on different size extruders.

Indicator #2: Specific Energy

This has to be calculated in 2 steps:

Kw (applied) = Kw (motor rating) X % torque X RPM running X 0.97


Max. RPM

Specific Energy = Kw (applied)


Kg. per hour

Specific Energy defines how much power is being expended to process each Kg.
of material. It is a measure of how much mechanical work is being performed on
the material. Again, it is useful to keep records of this figure for products over a
long period of time. After awhile, operators will get to know which products are
energy hogs, and which arent. This will help in planning runs for new
products, and estimating the production capacity of any given line.

Specific Energy is also very helpful in pinpointing problems. If a product is


known to always run with a S.E. around 0.25, and one day its only running 0.16,
if all other conditions are the same this would be a reason to suspect the
material.
Tip #17: Finding the Optimum Degree of Fill

Most products will run acceptably on a twin-screw extruder under a wide variety
of conditions. For instance, on a 50mm extruder, a given formulation might be
able to run at 400 lbs./hour using any RPM from 200 to 600. To the average
operator, there may seem little or no difference in the mixing or material quality.
But from theory we know there has to be a difference, because the shear
imparted to the material has to be different from low to high degrees of fill.

The way to answer this question is by running a test grid, which is a basic SPC
(Statistical Process Control) technique. The grid should be set up to test
combinations of low, medium, and high values for RPM and throughput rate,
within a realistic range. The grid also needs to have columns for key physical
properties and quality parameters.

For example:

RPM Rate Tensile Impact Color Surface Degree Spec.


strength of fill energy
200 300 27.2 16.2 7 7 0.68 0.165
400 400 29.4 16.0 7 7 0.45 0.200
600 500 29.6 15.6 8 7 0.38 0.287

200 400 28.5 16.1 8 8 0.91 0.142


400 500 32.5 17.3 9 8 0.57 0.178
600 300 30.1 16.8 7 7 0.23 0.255

200 500 26.7 16.3 7 8 1.14 0.262


400 300 28.9 15.8 8 8 0.34 0.197
600 400 30.4 15.9 8 7 0.30 0.259

The chart clearly shows the best combination of properties (in bold), running 500
lbs./hour at 400 RPM. But if nobody takes the time to do the tests, the product
could be run in production for years under conditions which produce less than
optimum properties.

Summary:

An extruder seems like a very simple machine at first glance, but there are many
interactions of components and sub-systems involved. If the operator has an
awareness of how these details affect the overall process performance, he or she
will have the capability to tune the factors to optimize the process.
References:

1. David B. Todd, Plastics Compounding Equipment and Processing. Hanser,


New York, 1998.

2. W.F. Stoecker, Design of Thermal Systems. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971.

3. Charlie Martin, Extrusion Technology and Troubleshooting. Chapter 2,


Society of Plastics Engineers, Brookfield, CT 2001.

4. Bert Elliott, Guidelines for Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Twin-


screw extruders. Leistritz, Somerville, NJ 1996.

5. Victor L. Streeter and E. Benjamin Wylie, Fluid Mechanics. McGraw-Hill, New


York, 1975.