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Boltless Die Reduces Extrusion Downtime

Originally Published MPMN January/February 2002

INDUSTRY NEWS

Boltless Die Reduces Extrusion Downtime
The boltless die from Extrusion Dies Inc. may be beneficial to manufacturers processing medical-grade PVC and other heat-sensitive resins that clog extruder flow channels.

Cleaning out extrusion dies is a dirty job and, yes, someone's got to do it. But does it have to be done so inefficiently? "I was observing workers grunting and groaning to lift the die to do a split and clean," says John A. Ulcej, executive vice president of engineering and technology at Extrusion Dies Inc. (Chippewa Falls, WI; www.extrusiondies.com). "I thought to myself there must be a better way." After some intellectual heavy lifting of his own, Ulcej came up with an alternative: the boltless die.

The flat-die clamping system replaces arduous die clean-outs and color changes with a mechanized process that clamps and releases the die halves in less than 1 minute. A series of hydromechanical clamps are positioned along the back of the die manifold in the same locations occupied by the body bolts in a conventional die. "It's a simple operation," says Ulcej. "You push a button and turn a switch to begin the unclamping or clamping process." In-line servicing is facilitated by the use of a cart designed by the company to hold the die and the hydraulic and mechanical components of the clamping system. The cart installs on most extrusion lines and can accommodate a range of die widths.

The boltless die enables extrusion processors who do frequent split and cleans to increase machine productivity. Although the dies will be more expensive than conventional models, the reduction in downtime should offset the increased investment cost, according to Ulcej. An added benefit, he notes, is that the ease of the system will prompt processors to clean their dies more frequently to ensure higher levels of product quality and consistency. Companies that operate on a custom, short-run, or just-in-time basis and who must change materials and colors frequently and those who manufacture critical medical and electronic products or optical-grade film will benefit, he adds. "It may be especially useful to processors of medical-grade PVC and other heat-sensitive resins whose degraded by-products must be cleaned out of the flow channel to prevent defects," says Ulcej.

Norbert Sparrow

Copyright ©2002 Medical Product Manufacturing News

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