Conair Group is joining with technology partners Davis-Standard LLC and Zumbach Electronics Corp. to demonstrate the extrusion of 4.5-millimeter thermoplastic elastomer medical tubing and ABS 1.7-mm 3D printing filament at MD&M West in Anaheim, Calif.
The line highlights the latest technology in extrusion, vacuum sizing/cooling, gauging, coiling, conveying and quality control, Conair said in a news release.
The demonstration marks first MD&M appearance of the space-saving Conair HTMP multi-pass vacuum-sizing/cooling tank and the ATC Series coiler. Instead of making a single pass through the long tank, the extruded material follows a Z-shaped path so the compact, 12-foot-long HTMP tank provides cooling time equal to a 30-foot tank, while fitting neatly into the Conair trade show booth.
"Floor space in any manufacturing plant is costly, and even more so in a clean room environment," said Erne Preiato, Conair's vice president of extrusion sales.
The TPE tube will be shown Feb. 12, while Conair will switch over to the ABS filament on Feb. 13.
The ATC Series coiler provides tensionless winding of extruded tubing and filament to prevent damage, and it is equipped with an automatic coil-isolation safety feature that prevents the user access to moving coils.
A pair of Zumbach ultrasonic gauges — one of each near the tank entrance and exit — continuously monitor and report changes in tubing wall thickness on a control screen as the tubing cools. Further downstream from the tank, a Zumbach three-axis outer-diameter laser gauge gives closed-loop dimensional control and displays the tube profile for adjustments to concentricity.
For the medical tubing extrusion, a 2-inch Super Blue Davis Standard extruder heads the production line. The extruder's output is supported by Conair upstream and downstream equipment. The cooling tank is served by a Conair Medline Thermolator temperature control unit and a Conair EP1A-02 portable air-cooled chiller. The finished tube or 3D filament then moves through a Medline Pinch Roll puller.
A Touch Panel Control integrates the entire production line through a single control panel.
To change over to 3D filament production, the only hardware changes involve installing a filament extrusion die and a "preskinner," a noncontact sizing chamber, at the entrance of the HTMP multipass vacuum sizing tank.
Conair engineers the preskinner at its extrusion laboratory in Pinconning, Mich. It is a water-filled changer used to pre-cool the "skin" of the surface of the extruded filament before it comes into contact with calibration sleeves in the vacuum cooling tank. Without preskinning, the hot filament could repeatedly stick and release on the calibration sleeves, and Conair said that results in "chatter" marks that mar the dimensional consistency and surface finish of the extruded filament.
Conair is based in Cranberry Township, Pa.