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Composites Extrusion Pilot Plant

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The Advanced Structures and Composites Center's Composites Extrusion Pilot Plant was built for the extrusion of thermoplastic composites, covering conventional thermoplastics to specially reinforced composites, such as wood/natural fiber or nano-particle reinforced thermoplastic composites. The Pilot Plant is equipped with two pilot-scale extrusion lines. A 55 mm conical counter-rotating twin screw extruder with a gravimetric batch blender, commonly used in industrial applications. The 94 mm parallel counter-rotating twin screw extruder, equipped with a 75 mm single screw side feeding extruder, is configured with gravimetric loss-in-weight feeding system that can accurately feed up to 6 different components. The development and testing of extruded materials can be performed for academic and industrial projects with the ability to explore many formulation variations in an expeditious manner. 

 
Davis-Standard WoodtruderTM

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Davis-Standard WoodtruderTM - The centerpiece of the Center's Wood Plastic Composites Pilot Plant is a Davis Standard WT-94 WoodtruderTM . The Woodtruder includes twin and single-screw extruders, a blending unit, a computerized blender-control system, a variety of die profiles, a spray cooling tank with driven rollers, a traveling cut-off saw, and a run-off table. The WoodtruderTM can process fibers from sawdust (both hard- and softwoods), sisal, rice hulls, kenaf, flax, peanut shells, recycled polymers, and many other materials.  These are combined with such plastics as polypropylene, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and poly vinyl chloride (PVC), which are variously found in many consumer goods such as milk jugs, house siding and plumbing materials. Work is also underway examining the processing of wood fiber with engineering thermoplastics (nylon).

 

 
Colortronic Graviblend Plus 1 Blending Unit

Colortronic Graviblend Plus 1 Blending Unit

Colortronic Graviblend Plus 1 Blending Unit - As processing begins, fiber is placed into the unit's Colortronic Graviblend Plus 1 station blending unit and weighed within. The wood is fed into the throat of the twin screw extruder and the fiber is dried from 5% to 8% moisture down to below 1% through a series of heating zones with atmospheric venting.

 
Cincinnati Milacron CM55 Conical Twin-screw extruder

 

Cincinnati Milacron CM55 Conical Twin-Screw Extruder - This extrusion line provides the Center with a system which produces WPCs with reduced material costs, increased surface stabilization, and improved colorfastness. This extrusion line provides manufacturers to mimic industrial operations in a laboratory setting.

 

 
The Pelletizer

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To meet specific processing parameters of various commercial manufacturers of wood plastic composite materials, the Center has capacities for specialized compounding - the action of mixing together several types of materials with a polymer matrix. Compounded strands which can be manufactured in the Davis-Standard Woodtruder or in the smaller Cincinnati Milacron CM55 Conical twin-screw extruder where they are directly fed into a pelletizer. The pelletizer, a machine that has a set of rotating blades that chops hot strands into pellets of a user-controllable length. These pellets are dried and bagged and may be used by polymer processors anywhere in the world.

 
Pallman Pulverizer

Pullman Pulverizer

Pallmann Pulverizer - makes the Center one of the premier developers of this process in North America. Capacities for agglomeration, a process of particle size enlargement which gathers small, fine particles such as dusts or powders into larger masses, clusters, pellets or briquettes. These agglomerated materials can then be used as end products or in a secondary processing step.

 
Engel Injection Molding System

Engel CC90 Injection Molding System

Engel CC90 Injection Molding System -  generates test coupons for testing materials in flexural bending, tension, and impact and allows in-house determination of the operating and mechanical properties of various WPC formulations developed from compounding, agglomeration, and pelletization. This system provides a tool to gauge and establish base-line performance data for various wood plastic composites.
 

 
Steam Tube Dryer

dscf3007.jpgDryer - The steam tube dryer is available to dry wood flour and other fiber materials to moisture contents below 1% in order to faciliate extrusion compounding for the CM 55 extruder and the Woodtruder.

 

 
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(207) 581-2123
composites@umit.maine.edu