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Recycling equipment, capabilities in spotlight at Fakuma

Issue: December 2017

European recycling equipment manufacturers rolled out new melt filters and a new shredder and showed Industry 4.0 capabilities as an add-on to existing equipment during Fakuma in Friedrichshafen, Germany, in October.

Manufacturers of recycling equipment are starting to embrace Industry 4.0, which has much higher visibility in Europe than in North America. One machinery maker said he anticipates that adoption of Industry 4.0 in the U.S. will come, but at a much slower pace than in Europe.

Some of the new equipment filled out lines that debuted last year at the K show in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Erema’s Laserfilter now for PET

Erema Engineering Recycling Maschinen und Anlagen GmbH has upgraded its popular Laserfilter to enable it to process PET.

Erema’s Laserfilter system uses a rotating scraper disc to lift contaminants off the screen and deliver them to a discharge system.

The Laserfilter has fixed filter screens that allow material to flow through but hold back contamination. It has no rotating seals between the contaminated material stream and the clean material stream, avoiding dead zones where material stays for a long time and increases the risk of degradation and black spots. These are key performance criteria for PET.

The Laserfilter was developed for recyclates with up to 5 percent contamination, and uses a rotating scraper disc to lift contaminants off the screen and deliver them to a discharge system. For the typically lower levels of contamination in PET, Erema has adapted the discharge system so that minimum melt losses occur.

Another special requirement of PET recycling is the need for very fine filtration. Previously, screen holes of the Laserfilter screens ranged from 90 microns to 2,000 microns.

Erema now can drill the super-fine holes with a laser down to 70 microns, said Robert Obermayr, head of Erema’s new business unit Powerfil in Austria, which focuses on the stand-alone filter business. A filter screen contains thousands of the tiny holes.

“This opens new markets for the Laserfilter,” he said.

Throughput with 70-micron screens is about 3,000 pounds per hour. For higher throughputs, twin, triple or quadruple versions of the Laserfilter are available.
Filter-screen lifetime typically can be several months when recycling PET. Changing a filter takes less than one hour. The hardened steel filter screens, with a thickness of 1.5mm, can be cleaned and reused about three times.

The Laserfilter is designed to remove non-melting contaminants such as paper, wood, aluminum, copper and soft contaminants like rubber and foreign polymers, as long as their melting point differs enough from the resin being recycled.

Ettlinger shows Industry 4.0 melt filter

Ettlinger Kunststoffmaschinen GmbH, Königsbrunn, Germany, filled out its line of melt filters designed for highly contaminated feedstock with the ERF 350.

The new model, which has a maximum throughput of 8,400 pounds per hour, is the first in the series ready to be integrated into an Industry 4.0 plant environment. All future Ettlinger melt filters will be Industry 4.0-ready.

Like the other three ERF models — the ERF 200, ERF 250 and ERF 500 — it can remove unwanted material such as paper, aluminum, wood, elastomers or polymer composites with high melt temperatures from resin with up to 18 percent contamination. The ERF 350 can process all standard polyolefins and polystyrenes, many engineering plastics, TPE and TPU.

The ERF 350 has the same footprint as the ERF 250, but has 28 percent higher throughput. Ettlinger said the performance data comes from customers using beta versions of the new model. Energy consumption is about the same as the ERF 250.

The ERF 350 melt filter from Ettlinger handles highly contaminated materials.

The self-cleaning ERF 350 has a rotating, perforated filter drum that allows a continuous flow of melt from the outside to the inside. Contaminants remain on the outside of the drum.

Screen sizes range from 80 microns to 1,300 microns. Ettlinger’s design uses a scraper to continuously remove purged contaminants from the outside of the filter drum that it then feeds to an exit screw.

The speed of the filter and the speed of the exit screw can be separately adjusted, which enables the filter surface to be kept clean and keeps melt loss to a minimum.

The design enables fully automatic operation so the filter can operate for weeks, or even months, with the same screen, Ettlinger GM Thorsten Ettlinger said. The discarded material has a very low plastics content.

“Our customers have higher productivity when recycling contaminated waste plastics from all sources,” Ettlinger said in an interview at Fakuma.
He also said the ERF 350 features constant melt pressure at the filter outlet and good homogenization of the melt material. A small footprint makes it easy to integrate the ERF 350 into an extrusion line.

Volker Neuber, Ettlinger’s managing director, said in a press release that using the new ERF 350 is a way for recycling plants to “strengthen their competitiveness in terms of costs and performance in what is a fiercely contested market constrained by price tags. Companies which process large quantities will particularly profit from the new technology.”

He said compounders that convert PP for automotive use or manufacturers of LDPE packaging films are examples of firms that stand to benefit the most.

Untha adds shredder model

Untha shredding technology GmbH, Kuchl, Austria, added another model to its year-old QR line of single-shaft shredders.

The new model is the QR1000, introduced at Fakuma. The number refers to the length of the rotor in millimeters. Five other QR models range from the QR800 to the QR2100.

The QR line was first introduced in Europe in 2016 and came to the U.S. market in February.

The feed opening for the QR1000 is 39 inches by 71 inches. Screen openings range from 15mm to 100mm.

The large-diameter rotors, either smooth or profiled, are equipped with bolted cutter holders. Adjustable main and secondary cutting bars as well as the cutters can be reversed up to four times, according to Untha.

The screen unit is moved by hydraulics. The screen pan system allows for easy access for maintenance.

Untha’s new QR1000 single-shaft shredder

Untha said the internal pusher system requires little or no maintenance and is designed to prevent material leakage.

A safety coupling protects the cutting system and power train. The planetary gear is integrated into the rotor so that no shaft stub is required.

The QR line has a high-resolution, easy-to-use touch-screen display. A multi-functional hydraulic flap gives easy access for repair or cleaning.

The QR1000 footprint is just 85 inches by 71 inches. It is 95 inches high.

A rotor-cooling system for materials with a low melting point is optional. There is also a rotor-wear option for shredders used with abrasive materials, optional hoppers for different materials and an automatic central lubrication system. Remote maintenance for quick fault diagnosis and troubleshooting also is available.

Untha shredders have a two-year guarantee. The company said a QR1400 machine will be available for customer trials at Untha Shredding Technology America Inc., in Hampton, N.H., in early 2018. This will be the first QR model available for customer trials in the U.S.

Sesotec gets Industry 4.0-ready

Sesotec GmbH, Schönberg, Germany, for the first time displayed three series of metal separators that now are equipped with Open Platform Communications-Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) and capable of integration into an Industry 4.0 plant.

The metal separators are the Protector, Rapid Pro-Sense and GF series. The metal separators are used in recycling as well as processing applications. They can detect magnetic and non-magnetic particles even when particles are enclosed in the plastic granulate.

Sesotec is making OPC-UA an extra-cost option for these three models. The company plans to add the feature to more equipment later.

OPC-UA is a machine-to-machine communications protocol and focuses on communications and data collection and control. It is not tied to one operating system or programming language. It has become the basis for Industry 4.0 plantwide connections.

The German machinery industry has advocated implementing Industry 4.0 for a few years, but it has only recently started appearing in recycling equipment.
Sesotec said the new feature is easy to operate and has an intuitive interface to prevent errors. Data and documentation can be accessed quickly. The system is designed to make Sesotec metal separators a plug-in for an Industry 4.0 setup.

A Sesotec spokesman said the feature will be particularly useful for companies that recycle and use their own recycled material to manufacture an end product. “For achieving maximum quality, it is important that the entire process be digitized,” he said.

Ron Shinn, editor


For more information

Erema North America Inc.,
Ipswich, Mass., 978-356-3771, www.erema.com

Ettlinger North America LP,
Tyrone, Ga., 770-703-8541, www.ettlinger.com

Sesotec Inc.,
Bartlett, Ill., 224-208-1900, www.sesotec.us

Untha shredding technology America Inc.,
Hampton, N.H., 603-601-2304, www.untha-america.com