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Launch of five-strand laboratory LFT lines for end users

AZO Materials | Written by AZoMMar

These Industry 4.0 capable lines with complete materials handling capabilities are equipped with the new user‐friendly SOMOS® control/excellence controller. Such laboratory lines allow LFT compound manufacturers to be more responsive by permitting on‐site development, testing and reliable scaling up of their formulations, so minimizing downtime.


From lab to production


An investment in the future, the laboratory lines allow LFT compounders to be more flexible and independent. By developing their own formulations in‐house in parallel with ongoing production, line users can respond more rapidly to market requirements.
The laboratory lines have a narrower die width and are designed to handle five glass fiber or three carbonfiber strands. Otherwise, the design of the modules and their complete integration with materials handling components are the same as in ProTec’s conventional pultrusion lines.
A keystone of the line is a high‐performance underfed compounding extruder equipped with a SOMOS® Gramix S gravimetric dosing system capable of accurately dosing and mixing up to seven components. As a result, a very wide range of individual formulations of the polymer matrix can be produced very flexibly directly in the process.
The new user‐friendly Industry 4.0 capable SOMOS® control/excellence controller means all modules can simply be selected centrally via a touch screen operator console: line speed, throughput of the underfed extruder and pellet chopping length can all be varied. SOMOS® systems for drying, conveying, dosing and mixing the various material components are also integrated into the line controller.
USB and SD ports mean that up to 1,000 custom formulations can be saved and reliably transferred to production. Because SOMOS® controllers are used for both the laboratory and the production lines, production parameters can be straightforwardly transferred, so minimizing downtime due to product changeovers. With their remote control function and internet access, the lines can be remotely serviced, optionally also via a WLAN hotspot.


Versatile technology for high quality LFT compounds


ProTec’s LFT technology is suitable for producing a wide range of materials comprising variable fiber reinforcement in a defined pellet length and using different polymers as the matrix. The lines are capable of producing LFT pellets with fiber contents of up to 65 wt.% at throughputs of up to 1,000 kg/h. Anyconventional thermoplastics, including biopolymers such as PLA (polylactic acid), may be used as the matrix. Recycled material and additional fillers may likewise be included in the material formulation. Glass, steel, carbon or aramid fibers can be used for reinforcement. Even the extremely difficult pairing of carbon fibers with PP can be reliably processed. In practice, LFT materials with fiber lengths of 7 mm to 15 mm are conventional. When injection molded, LFT compounds with fiber reinforcement along the length of the pellets result in components which combine high strength and light weight with very good surface quality, as is most particularly required in the automotive industry.
ProTec Polymer Processing GmbH based in Bensheim, Germany, has been a recognized partner to plastics processing and manufacturing companies for many years. Its service portfolio includes systems for the efficient handling of plastic materials, turn‐key systems for solid‐state post‐condensation of plastics, recycling lines as well as complete systems for producing longfibre reinforced thermoplastics (LFT pultrusion lines). As a member of the Schoeller Group, ProTec Polymer Processing has access to a global sales and service network and has the ideal infrastructure in place to provide comprehensive on‐site customer support.