Inoex GmbH, which makes measurement and control systems for extrusion, wants to give makers of polyethylene and polypropylene pipe an Advantage - the name of its new device that can change pipe diameter without stopping the line, and using the existing die.
Reinhard Klose, chairman and chief executive officer of the company in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, introduced the technology during a K 2004 news conference.
Klose said pipe makers are making smaller lot sizes than before. But changing diameters can take several hours to install a new die and require several technicians. ``So far, it has been quite difficult to change from one dimension to another dimension,'' Klose said.
The Advantage takes just minutes and works automatically, according to the company. A guide chamber tightly connects the die head to a special sleeve, which is under water in the vacuum calibration chamber. The flexible sleeve works like a Chinese finger trap - the interlocking parts maintain a stable, round shape and as the end is pulled, the diameter becomes smaller, squeezing down the pipe as it comes out of the same die.
Synchronized motors precisely adapt the inlet and the calibration cage.
The sealing device is a folding metal collar. Advantage covers all dimensions of PE and PP pipe in diameters from 1.3-16 inches. Advantage also can change wall thickness, by changing the throughput or speeding up or slowing down the line.
``By pushing a button, they can change automatically,'' Klose said.
Klose started out at extruder maker Battenfeld Extrusionstechnik GmbH. He left Battenfeld to found Inoex in 1984. The company has focused on retrofit control products for extrusion such as in-line testing equipment - and retrofit is a big marketing pitch for the Advantage as well.
Another advantage, according to Klose, is that Inoex is not beholden to any one brand of extruders or downstream equipment.
Inoex is positioning Advantage against QuickSwitch technology from Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH. Klose said the Inoex system is less expensive.
Inoex's U.S. headquarters, Inoex LLC, is in Lancaster, Pa.