Thermoplastic Composite Extrusion Lab
Composites Extrusion Pilot Line
The 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 one pilot-scale extrusion line. 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.
The WoodtruderTM 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
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.
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 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.
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.