31 octobre 2015 ~ 0 Commentaire

In the Mix Continuous Compounding Using Twin Screw Extruders

Medical Biomaterials and Plastics

Versatile twin-screw systems can be used for compounding, devolatilization, or reactive extrusion-with the ultimate end products ranging from pellets and fibers to tubes, film, and sheet.

Polymer compounds are useful for an extremely wide variety of molded and extruded medical components and devices. Such compounds are composed of a bottom resin that is thoroughly mixed with other components offering specific beneficial properties relating to the particular end product-for example, affect resistance, clearness, or radiopacity.

Twin-screw extruder with gear-pump front side end and profile program,.

An important type of plastics digesting machinery known as a twin-screw extruder is used to mix fillers and additives with the polymer in a continuous manner, so that the substance will perform as required and achieve the required properties. Factors such as the choice of corotation versus counterrotation, screw design and style parameters, and feeder-program and downstream-pelletizing-system configurations are important design conditions for an effective compounding operation employing twin-screw equipment.

Single-screw extruders are commonly used to make products such as for example catheters and medical-grade films from pellets that have already been compounded. The principal function of these extruders would be to melt and pump the polymer to the with minimal combining, die and devolatilizing. The use of a single screw for such applications minimizes strength input in to the process; such systems are in many ways the exact reverse of a compounding extruder, which is a high-energy-input device.


Compounding extruders are accustomed to mix together several materials right into a homogeneous mass in a continuous process. This is achieved through distributive and dispersive mixing of the many components in the substance as required (Figure 1). In distributive combining, the components will be uniformly distributed in space in a uniform ratio without having to be divided, whereas dispersive mixing calls for the breaking down of agglomerates. High-dispersive mixing needs that significant strength and shear participate the process.

Compounding extruders perform number of basic works: feeding, melting, mixing, venting, and growing die and localized pressure. Numerous kinds of extruders may be used to accomplish these goals, including solo screw, counterrotating intermeshing twin screw, corotating intermeshing twin screw, and counterrotating nonintermeshing twin screw. The sort and physical type of the polymer materials, the homes of any additives or fillers, and the amount of mixing required could have a bearing on machine selection.

Twin-screw compounding devices are primarily focused on transferring temperature and mechanical energy to provide mixing and various support functions, with reduced regard for pumping. Numerous operations performed via this sort of extruder include the polymerizing of innovative polymers, modifying polymers via graft reactions, devolatilizing, blending distinct polymers, and compounding particulates into plastics. In comparison, single-screw plasticating extruders are designed to minimize energy input and to improve pumping uniformity, and are generally inadequate to perform remarkably dispersive and energy-intensive compounding functions.

Among the typical process parameters that are managed in a twin-screw extruder operation are screw rate (in revolutions each and every minute), feed rate, temperatures across the die and barrel, and vacuum level for the devolatilization plant. Usual readouts contain melt pressure, melt temperature, electric motor amperage, vacuum level, and material viscosity. The extruder engine inputs energy into the process to execute compounding and related mass-transfer functions, whereas the rotating screws impart both shear and strength so that you can mix the elements, devolatilize, and pump.

Twin-screw compounding extruders for medical applications are available commercially in three modes: corotating intermeshing, counterrotating intermeshing, and counterrotating nonintermeshing (Number 2). Although each offers certain attributes which make it suitable for particular applications, both intermeshing types are better suited for dispersive compounding generally.

Twin-screw extruders work with modular barrels and screws (Figures 3 and 4). Screws happen to be assembled on shafts, with barrels configured as plain, vented, aspect stuffing, liquid drain, and liquid addition. The modular aspect of twin-screw devices provides extreme process versatility by facilitating such alterations as the rearrangement of barrels, producing the length-to-size (L/D) ratio much longer or shorter, or modifying the screw to match the precise geometry to the required process task. Likewise, since wear is typically localized in the extruder’s solids-conveying and plastication section, only specific parts may need to be replaced during preventive repair procedures. By the same token, expensive high-alloy corrosion- and abrasion-resistant metallurgies can be employed simply where protection against be dressed in is needed.


The heart of any twin-screw compounding extruder is its screws. The modular mother nature of twins and the choice of rotation and degree of intermesh makes feasible an infinite number of screw design variables. Nevertheless, there are a few similarities among the many screw types. Forward-flighted factors are used to convey supplies, reverse-flighted elements are used to create pressure fields, and kneaders and shear elements are used to mix and melt. Screws could be built shear intensive or much less aggressive based on the number and kind of shearing elements built-into the screw program.

You can find five shear regions in the screws for just about any twin-screw extruder, regardless of screw rotation or degree of intermesh. The following is usually a brief description of every region:

Channel-low shear. The combining fee in the channel in a twin is similar to that of a single-screw extruder, and is significantly lower than in the different shear regions.

Overflight/tip mixing-large shear. Located between the screw idea and the barrel wall structure, this place undergoes shear that, by some estimates, is really as much as 50 times greater than in the channel.

Lobal pools-high shear. With the compression of the materials entering the overflight location, a mixing-amount acceleration comes about from the channel, with a effective extensional shear effect particularly.

Intermesh interaction-increased shear. It is a mixing region between your screws where in fact the screws « wipe, » or nearly wipe. Intermeshing twins are more shear-intensive in this area than are actually nonintermeshing twins obviously.

Apex mixing-substantial shear. Right here is the region where in fact the interaction from the second screw affects the material mixing rate. Mixing elements can be distributive or dispersive. The wider the blending element, the more dispersive its action, as elongational and planar shear effects occur as supplies are pressured up and on the land. Narrower mixing elements tend to be more distributive, with excessive melt-division rates and considerably less elongational and planar shear (Amount 5). Newer distributive combining elements allow for various melt divisions without extensional shear, that can be particularly useful for mixing heat- and shear-sensitive materials (Physique 6).

Single-screw extruders contain the channel, overflight, and lobal blending regions, however, not the apex and intermesh ones. Because single-screw units lack these high-shear regions, they are not ideal for high-dispersive mixing generally. They are adequate often, however, for distributive blending applications.

All twin-screw compounding extruders are starved-fed products virtually. In a starved twin-screw extruder, the feeders set the throughput rate and the extruder screw speed is used and independent to optimize compounding efficiency. The four high-shear regions are in essence independent from the amount of screw fill. Accordingly, at confirmed screw quickness, as throughput is heightened, the overall mixing often decreases, because the low-shear channel mixing region tends to dominate the four independent high-shear regions. If the extruder velocity is held regular and the throughput is decreased, the high-shear areas will dominate more, and better blending will result. The same principle pertains to counterrotating and corotating twins, each which gets the same five shear regions.

In a traditionally designed counterrotating intermeshing twin, the top velocities in the intermesh region are in the same direction, which effects in an increased percentage of the products passing through the high-dispersive calender gap area on each turn. New counterrotating screw geometries happen to be less reliant on calender gap mixing, and make use of the geometric liberty that is inherent in counterrotation to hire up to a hexalobal mixing element, in comparison with a bilobal aspect in corotation.

The surface velocities in the intermesh region for the corotating intermeshing twin are in opposite extrusion equipment manufacturers directions. With this construction, materials tend to be wiped from one screw to the different, with a low percentage getting into the intermesh gap comparatively. Materials have a tendency to follow a figure-eight design in the flighted screw regions, and most of the shear is without question imparted by shear-inducing kneaders in localized areas. Because the flight from one screw cannot distinct the additional, corotation is bound to bilobal mixing factors at standard trip depth.

The aforementioned comparison of corotation and counterrotation is an extreme oversimplification. Both types are great dispersive mixers and can perform most tasks equally well. It is only for product-certain applications that definitive recommendations can be designed for one mode on the other.


Single-screw extruders happen to be flood-fed machines generally, with the single screw acceleration determining the throughput rate of the machine. Because twin-screw compounders are not flood fed, the outcome rate is determined by the feeders, and screw swiftness is used to optimize the compounding performance of the procedure. The pressure gradient in a twin-screw extruder is without question controlled and stored at zero for a lot of the process (Figure 7). This has substantial ramifications with regard to sequential feeding also to immediate extrusion of something from a compounding extruder.

The selection of a feeding system for a twin-screw compounding extruder is extremely important. Components could be premixed in a batch-type mixing unit and volumetrically fed into the main feed port of the extruder. For multiple feed streams, each material is separately fed via loss-in-excess fat feeders into the main feed slot or a downstream site (top or aspect feed). Each setup has advantages depending on the product, the average manage size, and the nature of the plant operation.

When premix is feasible, a percentage of the overall mixing job is accomplished to the resources being processed in the twin-screw extruder prior. The total result could be a better-quality compound. Outputs may be increased also, since the screws can be run additional « filled » weighed against sequential feeding. Many techniques usually do not lend themselves to premixing because of segregation in the hopper and other related problems. A premix operation is often desirable for shorter-run, specialty high-dispersion compounding applications, such as for example those with color concentrates.

Loss-in-weight feeding systems are often used to separately meter multiple pieces into the extruder. Loss-in-fat feeders accept a set point and utilize a PID algorithm to meter resources with extreme precision (normally

The pressure gradient linked to the starved-fed, twin-screw extruder facilitates feeding downstream from the main feed port. Generally, there is near-zero pressure for much of the procedure. The localized pressure depends upon the screw design, facilitating downstream feeding of liquids or fillers such as barium sulfate.

Downstream feeding could be accomplished through injection ports for liquids, and into vents or via twin-screw relative aspect stuffers for an array of other materials, in filler loadings due to high due to 80%. This separation of the process tasks combined with targeted introduction often effects in not as much barrel and screw have on with abrasive components and in a better-quality product.


After the material passes through a filtering device, the products emerging from the extruder must be converted into a form which can be handled by fabricating equipment. This includes choosing the downstream pelletizer-generally a strand-cut normally, water-ring, or underwater program.

In strand-cut systems, the molten strands are cooled in a water trough and pulled through a water stripper by the pull rolls of the pelletizer. The pelletizer uses both leading- and bottom-motivated rolls, which feed the strands to a helical cutter. Water-ring or die-deal with pelletizers cut the strands on or near the die encounter with high-speed knives. The pellets will be conveyed into a slurry discharge then, which is pumped into a dryer where the pellets happen to be separated from the drinking water. In underwater pelletizers, the die deal with is certainly submerged in a water-filled chamber or housing, and the pellets are water quenched.

Sometimes, users desire to extrude a merchandise like a tube, film, sheet, or fiber out from the compounding extruder directly, bypassing the pelletizing procedure thereby. This often involves conflicting method goals. For example, to optimize compounding efficiency, the twin screws are most likely to be operated in a starved fashion at substantial speeds, with a zero pressure gradient along much of the barrel. This can bring about inconsistent or low pressure to the die, which is unacceptable for extruding a product. If the screws happen to be run slower or loaded more, pressure can be gained and stabilized but at the trouble of an excellent compound. Gear pumps or takeoff single-screw extruders are sometimes attached to leading of the twin-screw compounder and utilized to build and stabilize pressure to the die.

The controls connected with attaching a front-end takeoff are more complex compared with those for a stand-alone compounding procedure. The takeoff gear pump or solitary screw becomes the grasp device, with extruder and feeder speeds adjusted to that of the pump to keep a constant inlet pressure. A PID control algorithm is certainly created that communicates with the feeder(s) and considers the residence period from the feeder through the extruder-generally about 1 minute. Each product operate on the system will generally need a fair volume of development effort with regard to the pressure control function.

Advantages associated with in-line extrusion from a twin-screw compounder are the polymer having one-less heat and shear background, which often results found in improved end-product properties, the elimination of pelletizing, the avoidance of demixing that can occur in the single-screw procedure, and the ability to fine-tune a good formulation on-line in support of quality assurance.


There are numerous critical design issues that a medical manufacturer should think about when installing a compounding system. They are influenced by the products being processed, the precise end market where the product will be used, the common run size, and the type of the plant where the hardware will be located. Upstream downstream and feeding program options are believe it or not important than the choice of counterrotation or corotation, or the shear intensity found in the screw design. Because many subtle variances can be found between competing twin-screw modes, a user’s own preferences also enter into the equation. All alternatives is highly recommended before a decision is definitely finalized carefully.

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