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The melting of polymers in a twin-screw (T/S) extruder is an important operation in many industrial processes. Research by Shih, Gogos, Geng and others has identified the physical phenomena that take place during the melting phase transition. This paper describes a new approach for modeling the melting in a twin-screw extruder and the model predictions are compared with an experimental study of Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) melting in a co-rotating, intermeshing T/S extruder using on-line visualization and axial scanning of pressure and temperature techniques. This paper focuses on the physics and engineering concepts that are inherent in the melting mechanism in the extruder, and viscous energy dissipation in the melt with un-melted solids. The effects of throughput, Q, and at a constant rotation speed, N, is examined. Low and high Q/N ratios have significantly different axial pressure profiles.
Multi-Layer extrusion (MLE) is an advanced co-extrusion processing technology, which enables two polymer systems to be melt extruded, combined in an alternating format to very small total thickness <100μm and arranged in higher number of layer typically ranging from 8 to 1024. The focus of this paper is to investigate polymeric materials which are high modulus (e.g. LNP™ EXL PC copolymer or polymethyl methacrylate PMMA) and relatively low modulus (e.g. TPU) in nature as an alternating material combination for MLE. By combining different modulus of polymeric materials in MLE films, it is possible to achieve desired balance of different properties like mechanical, thermal, optical, dielectric etc., by synergistically combining the properties of the individual resins. In this paper flexural test is shown as an example to discuss the mechanical performance of MLE films. One of the major challenges of the MLE process is the down-selection of materials that are thermoplastics and have “matching” viscoelasticity at the processing temperature, as assessed by viscosity measurement at lower shear rates. Additionally, in order to ensure inter-layer adhesion, solubility parameters and processing windows of the two resins must be considered. In this study differences in adhesion were noted between PC/PU and PMMA/TPU MLE system. In PMMA/TPU MLE modification of processing temperature resulted in an improved interfacial stability and interlayer adhesion.
Processes needing to extrude biopolymers can be challenged by the poor flow properties often exhibited by this class of materials. Lignocellulose is one such material that is very attractive to the future polymer industry as a potential engineered biopolymer suitable for structural applications. To convert the poorly processable lignocellulose pulp into a flowable thermoplastic, the chemistry of both cellulose and lignin need to be modified, and to do so economically, attention is turned towards reactive extrusion. A reactive solution is required for the modification but also, to simply allow the lignocellulose to flow through the extruder. This study examines the novel idea of a recycle stream in reactive extrusion to reduce the normally high concentration of reactive solution needed. The goal behind the recycle stream was to produce an exiting product requiring minimal recovery of the unreacted solution without the introduction of a contaminant into the process to aid lignocellulose flow. The results showed that a comparable thermoplastic product could be produced with ~50% less reactive solution by recycling 25% of the exit stream back into the process, The recycled polymer was an effective plasticizer for the lignocellulose pulp, lowering the reliance on the reactive solution to offer this function in addition to acting as the modifier.
ASTM F1980 provides a methodology for accelerated aging of sterile barrier systems for medical devices, and is also widely used as the definitive guide for accelerated aging of medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging. ASTM F1980-16, as well as previous versions going back to 2007, emphasize that when increasing temperature to accelerate aging, it is preferable to decrease relative humidity so as to maintain an approximately constant moisture content. However, there is a revision under consideration by the ASTM F02.50 committee that would dramatically change this guidance to indicate a preference (although allowing for other options) to keep relative humidity approximately constant. This change is based on somewhat limited test data and literature review published recently by Thor et al. In this paper, we perform a study looking at eight resins (PP, COC, ABS, PC/PET, Copolyester, PBT, PA66gf, PUR) that have been aged at 60C and three different RH levels to evaluate the impact on aging. Our findings to date indicate that: (i) yes, it is likely that RH should be held constant when increasing temperature in order to keep moisture constant in the resins at a similar level; and (ii) for the medical-grade resins evaluated here, RH level does not significantly impact the physical aging mechanism. We also recommend that further accelerated aging studies are performed to more thoroughly evaluate the impact of moisture content on Q10 factors, corrosion rates, and other endpoints before this dramatic change is made to the ASTM F1980 standard.
CFD-Simulations are a common tool to design and optimize mixing elements. The manual evaluation and experience-based derivation of an optimized geometry is still an iterative process which is time consuming. In this paper an automated algorithm is developed and tested for a mainly distributive Block-Head-Mixer. To automatically evaluate the flow field of each geometry variant, quality criteria are introduced which enable the assessment of the mixing capability. The investigation showed that the quality criteria are suitable to evaluate the flow field and an optimized candidate compared to a starting geometry could be found automatically.
The co-kneader is well known for its superior mixing performance and its exact temperature control capabilities. Therefore, it is widely used in the polymer industry for the compounding of shear- and temperature-sensitive materials. In contrast to the considerable amount of scientific work that deals with investigation, modeling or simulation of the process behavior of single and twin screw extruders there are only few studies about the co-kneader. Due to increased quality requirements and the trend for cost reduction by process optimization, this is increasingly becoming a problem for plant construction and processing companies. To address this problem, experimental investigations of the melting behavior of polymer materials in the co-kneader were conducted. In order to determine the melting degree along the extruder length a special barrel was used which can be opened in axial direction. Based on the experimental results, a theoretical consideration for co-kneaders that are operated as plastification extruders is proposed. Therefore a disperse solid melting model is used. A comparison between simulated results and experimental data shows a descent agreement, when the point of melting initiation is estimated accurately.
The twin screw extruder is used for processing of plastics. One of the most important processing tasks is the preparation of plastics with fillers and reinforcing materials. For the processing of fibers various recommendations can be found. But in an industrial production, with the same specification and process parameters, the resulting fiber length may differ. These variations must be clearly defined and determined. While process deviations occur during compounding, measurement deviations can be detected in the fiber end length measurements. In order to evaluate the experimental investigations and to use it for model validations, the corresponding deviations must be known beforehand. Within this paper, a reproducibility study will be carried out to ensure the reliability of the experimental investigations. The aim of the work is to determine the fiber length degradation along the screw and their deviations. The investigations in this paper are showing that a producible fiber length reduction is possible.
The solubility and dissolution enhancement of the poorly soluble drug ketoprofen (KTO) in polymer blends prepared by hot melt extrusion was studied using two different twin screw configurations while changing extrusion processing parameters. Soluplus and Kollidon SR blends were used as solid dispersion excipients. A design of experiments with three melt temperatures, three screw rotation speeds, and three fill factors was performed. Different characterization techniques such as differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), optical and polarized light microscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (ss-NMR), and dissolution testing were used. The results from DSC and XRD showed an amorphous solid solution. An optimal processing condition by twin screw extrusion was found for each screw configuration achieving more than 80% drug release in 8 hours.
Twin-screw extrusion modeling is in most cases based on analytical approaches that are build on considerable geometric simplifications. These approaches give only rough estimations of the processing behavior. More accurate predictions generally require numerical methods with less drastic simplifications. In this work, we analyzed the pressure-throughput behavior in fully-intermeshing double-flighted kneading blocks. First, we conducted a dimensional analysis based on the Buckingham Π-theorem. Second, for each staggering angle, we determined the characteristic angular position that describes the mean throughput. Based on this position, a parametric design study was carried out by varying the identified dimensionless parameters. To solve the complex flow patterns, 3D CFD simulations were conducted. For each design point we evaluated the dimensionless drag flow-rate and the dimensionless dam-up pressure. As an addition to the two established dimensionless conveying parameters A1 and A2, we propose a novel conveying parameter A3. This new parameter simultaneously enables the description of conveying and non-conveying kneading discs. Our results offer considerably deeper insight into the conveying characteristics of kneading blocks. In addition, they can serve as foundation for screw design and process modeling. For a better understanding of the process, we additionally investigated the power consumption and viscous dissipation in Part B of this publication.
Modeling twin-screw extrusion is commonly based on significant geometric simplifications such as the representation of the flow domain as flat channels. Furthermore, the prediction of the conveying characteristics and power demand of kneading blocks is typically based on their approximation as conveying elements. Considering the accurate flow geometry of fully intermeshing co-rotating twin-screw extrusion kneading blocks we analyzed the power characteristics by means of three-dimensional numerical simulations for Newtonian flow. Therefor we first conducted a dimensional analysis to identify the dimensionless characteristic influencing parameters. Next, we derived novel dimensionless power parameters and then conducted a parametric design study. Our proposed power parameters are capable to simultaneously cover conveying and non-conveying screw elements. The results provide new insights in the power characteristics of kneading blocks and are fundamental for screw design, screw simulation, and scale-up. In Part A.  of this work we focused on the conveying parameters.
In the late 1950’s Union Carbide’s research engineer, Bruce Maddock, ran several single screw extruder experiments. He established a method to reveal the melting profile in the screw by stopping the screw at speed and quickly cooling it to freeze the polymer. Then he reheated it to create a melt film on the barrel surface so he could pull the screw out. The condition of the polymer in the screw flights was studied. This revealed what Bruce called the solid bed melting mechanism. He showed that at the end of the feed section there was a tightly packed mass of solids in the screw channel. Melting occurred at the barrel surface as the conventional transition section decreased in depth. The melt was scrapped off the screw barrel surface by the rotating screw flight which deposited it into the rear of the screw channel. Thus, the solid bed melting mechanism was discovered. This mechanism has been the basis of all screw designs since. This paper will disclose an alternate melting mechanism which does not use the solid bed theory.
The melting behaviour in single-screw extruders is of significant importance. For a high-quality extrusion product, a completely molten and thermal homogeneous, in case of a compound or the use of fillers also uniform concentrated, polymer melt is necessary. Due to the striving for the highest possible economic efficiency of the process, screws which can achieve a higher throughput at the same extruder size through higher screw speeds are often used. In these, however, melting no longer takes place in the classical way with a subdivision into melt eddy and solid bed, as was researched in the 1950s and 1960s by MADDOCK and TADMOR and successively extended by many more. Much more the solid bed breaks up into individual solid particles due to high forces or special screw geometries introducing disperse melting. The mathematical description of this process is not as mature as that of classical melting and is therefore the subject of this paper. An analytical mathematical model is presented which allows the calculation of the temperature development in the particle and the variable melting rate in addition to the actual melting process of the disperse melting. The temperature input by dissipation as well as by barrel temperature is considered. By means of an iterative procedure, complete screw geometries can be checked for the melting behaviour. Furthermore, a statistical experimental design based on the model is used to show which factors favor or impair disperse melting.
In addition to conveying and melting, one of the core tasks of a single screw extruder is the homogenization of the material. Since conventional conveying screws in single screw extruders usually have an inadequate mixing effect, mixing elements at the end of the screw are commonly used to increase the homogenization performance. The melt homogeneity at the end of the screw is very important because it correlates strongly with the product quality and is therefore also directly related to reject rates in the production. However, characterization of the mixing quality is often very difficult because there are many degrees of freedom. In this paper, a new method for characterization of the distributive mixing quality on the basis of 3D CFD simulations is presented. In order to be able to assess the mixing quality, the particle trajectory of an initially defined particle distribution at the inlet of the flow must first be calculated with a particle tracking method. Subsequently, the homogeneity can be characterized by the change in the particle distribution at the end of the flow area. Bin counting is often used for this purpose. However, this method has considerable weaknesses, which will be shown. Consequently, a new characterization method based on the Delaunay triangulation has been developed and implemented in MATLAB. The new method will be demonstrated using selected fictitiously generated as well as simulated particle distributions of some different screw geometries.
In many extrusion analyses, the pumping capability of the extruder screw is overestimated. This is usually due to the effect of the flight clearance being omitted in the mathematical model. The clearance between flight land and barrel surface enables the polymer melt to leak across the flights, thereby reducing the effectiveness with which the screw can pump the polymer melt forward. A few studies have proposed modifications to the widely known pumping model to account for the effect of leakage flow. While most of these consider Newtonian fluids, less attention has been directed towards shear-thinning polymer melts. We propose approximate equations to predict the flow of power-law fluids through the flight clearance of pressure-generating melt-conveying zones. Rather than correct the net material throughput of the single-screw extruder, we locally describe the two-dimensional flow between the flight tip and the barrel surface. Our novel models, which predict the flow rate and viscous dissipation, increase the understanding of the flow of shear-thinning polymer melts across the flights. Implemented in our screw calculation routine (introduced in [1-4]), they also serve as the basic equations for the network elements positioned over the screw flights.
While the flow forces governing primary melt-based polymer processing techniques, such as extrusion and injection molding, have been extensively studied, characterization of forces in secondary processes such as thermoforming is limited. In this work we utilize multilayer coextrusion to create an extruded film with 100s of alternating linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and isotactic polypropylene (iPP) layers; and by extension, 100s of interfaces. The combination of LLDPE, iPP, and these interfaces decreases the elastic storage modulus (E’) and broadens the rubbery plateau observed via dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). The broadening of the rubber plateau is correlated with an observed improvement in LLDPE/iPP multilayer thermoformability compared to the homopolymer LLDPE and iPP films.
Resin degradation can reduce the value of a product, especially for polyethylene (PE) films. Most of the degradation occurs in the final processing operations using single-screw extruders. There are many reasons why degradation occurs, and screw design is considered the first and best opportunity to mitigate it. The elimination of atmospheric oxygen is the next best option. This paper describes a method for mitigating resin degradation via nitrogen purging at the hopper. Extrusion data are provided that demonstrates the effectiveness of nitrogen purging for PE resins.
Simulation of the flow and extrudate deformation in a bilayer window profile die is presented. The shape of the profile was modified during extrudate cooling by changing the shape of successive calibrator profiles. The effect of non-uniform exit velocity, cooling shrinkage and shape of calibrator profiles on extrudate deformation is included in the simulation.
In this paper, an experimental design with three mixing sleeves, two materials and several operating points is carried out to determine the operating performance of free-rotating sleeves in single-screw extrusion. The focus will be on the investigation of the operating parameters: sleeve speed, pressure loss and temperature development. Therefore, an automated method for determining the sleeve speed will be presented.
In today’s advanced plastics processing industry, a quality-based control of an entire production line is desirable. This requires a product-related process data acquisition allowing to merge process data and quality data with high accuracy. In this context, an approach for the blown film extrusion process will be presented. An experimental study confirms that the tool of residence time distribution analysis is suitable to identify the system behavior of a blown film line. On that basis, suggestions are made on how to proceed with the implementation of a product-related process data acquisition.
Because of their versatile properties multi-layer polymer products have a high industrial relevance. Process understanding and prediction of the flow characteristics of co-extrusion, hence, is of major importance. When the shear-thinning behavior of polymer melts is to be included in modeling, there is no alternative to numerical solution methods. We present a numerical solver that is based on the shooting method to predict two-layer co-extrusion flows of non-Newtonian fluids within rectangular ducts of infinite width. The pseudo-plastic flow behavior of polymer melts is modeled by the power law according to Ostwald and de Waele. We carried out a dimensional analysis of the governing equations based on the theory of similarity, and identified four independent dimensionless parameters that fully describe the problem. To solve the dimensionless governing equations, we developed a numerical solution procedure. Additionally, we conducted an extensive parametric study by varying these independent dimensionless quantities over a wide range that covers almost all applications in industry. The numerical results offer insights into the influence of the independent parameters on, for instance, pressure gradient, (interfacial) shear stress, velocity profile, and viscosity distribution.
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