A company in Lake Mary, Fla., called Envirokare Tech Inc. is providing turnkey systems to continuously compound and compression mold thermoplastic parts with long-fiber reinforcements, using a low-pressure molding process.
Envirokare is the worldwide licensee of a technology called TPF (for Thermoplastic FlowForming), invented by Dale Polk, president of Thermoplastic Composite Design in Mims, Fla.
Running at low pressure of 75 pounds per square inch of compression force means parts can be run on smaller-tonnage compression molding machines. The parts also are stress-free.
Envirokare does not manufacture machinery, but the company sources all equipment and controls to provide a turnkey package, said Erwin Pruefer, head of marketing. Envirokare negotiates exclusive TPF licenses for specific products and markets.
The technology is fully automated. “Ours is a hands-free process from compounding through part extraction,” Pruefer said.
The continuous process has throughputs ranging from 600 to more than 4,000 pounds an hour, so Pruefer stresses it is best-suited for high-volume production and large structural parts. Products made by TPF so far include X-ray-transparent stretchers, pallets, agricultural parts, housing panels and radomes. The part sizes have reached more than 32 square feet and more than 90 pounds.
TPF uses a computer-controlled feeding and blending system for the resin and fibers. An extruder compounds the melt at a precisely controlled rate and pressure, then delivers the material directly onto the open mold. The part is removed after compression molding and rapid, in-mold cooling.
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