It’s probably fair to say that many sales conversations on technical matters, including the selection of an appropriate screw and barrel, begin with the phrase “it depends”. The variances and variety that exist by industry segment, material and even general application are lengthy, to say the least. Considerations such as the size of the machine, potential for Single Screw Extruder Screw Barrel wear, heat, cycle time, melt temperature, color mix, recovery time and so many more variables can make for a rather complex equation.
Understanding the challenges of the application is the first step. Now aside from a shameless plug for Milacron’s rather deep background and decades of industry expertise on the matter of “understanding the challenges of practically all plastics applications”, it is worth noting that having a strategic manufacturing partner to walk you through that process; can save you in the long run. The second step would be the design of the screw.
Quick Did You Know: The actual design of the screw, and not metallurgy, become more important the larger the diameter of the screw. They have more effect on the melt process than the heater bands in some cases. Consequently, the design of smaller screws involves more wear-related material decisions, of which the conversation then becomes a metallurgy or coating issue.
Generally speaking the ratio of importance in the selection between the screw and barrel should fall more so on the screw and non-return design/selection and metallurgy.
So if you are still keeping score, the need to select the right screw and barrel is critical for any application. However, when should this critical component be clarified in the commercial conversation? In reality, it isn’t discussed as early as it should be in the build-up for a brand new machine. It is not likely that you’ll find it at the top of a new machine conversation, but it should follow close behind.
More often than not, you’ll find that the topic of screw and barrels is discussed in an aftermarket setting. Even after a machine has been running for a long period of time, many molders forget to look at newer or improved screw and barrel technology. Continual improvements in screw and barrel sizing, coatings and metallurgy have shown to improve efficiency, performance and general material handling versus potential cost and changes related to the clamp end.
As plastics molders look at updating old machinery with brand new ones, or even just looking at retrofitting some existing machinery; make sure you take a look at your screw and barrel for some much needed performance and productivity.
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