Glycon Corp. is developing a system to manage wear in extrusion screws and barrels.
The firm's Process Wear Management aims to track wear in order to repair or replace critical components before they eat into profitability. Glycon is developing the sensor and data-gathering technology in conjunction with Dynisco Inc. and RJG Inc.
Glycon general sales manager John Phelan likened the effort to how auto racing teams tackle wear on the racecourse. Race teams have made it a science to determine tire wear vs. remaining performance. They want to minimize tire changes but can't risk running the tires to catastrophic failure.
Melting and mixing in a plasticating unit are influenced by the gap between the screw and barrel. As the machine logs lengthy production time, components experience wear and the gap widens, making the process inefficient and boosting energy needs to maintain production rates.
Tecumseh, Mich.-based Glycon introduced its SmartBarrel system in 2005. It involves inserting a digital indicator through a small port in the extruder or injection-unit barrel to measure screw-flight dimensions. The measurements take a few minutes and save extended downtime entailed by pulling the screw to make measurements.
Glycon is working with its partners to make the technology automated and continuous. For example, eddy-current sensors could take noncontact readings of the gap through the barrel wall while the machine runs.
Franklin, Mass.-based Dynisco is helping to develop sensors that can stand up to the rugged conditions of a plasticating unit. Traverse City, Mich.-based RJG is contributing data-gathering and analysis systems to determine screw speed and energy consumption.
Phelan said in an interview at NPE 2006 in Chicago that most of Glycon's work so far has focused on extruders, but it is ready to broaden the work to include injection molding.