While Plastrac, the Edgemont, PA-based manufacturer of easy-to-use blending systems, has been field testing its ergonomic ColorStreamTM blending system, the U.S. Patent Office has awarded the new unit patent approval. As a result, Plastrac is ready to start rolling out the new blender to customers eager to take advantage of its many breakthrough benefits.
ColorStream began as a customer service request by a major cable and wire manufacturer to eliminate the need for employees to climb ladders or stairs to clean and change out additive hoppers that are mounted high above the floor. “Our response was to develop an entirely new approach to the industry's traditional blending methods,” notes ColorStream's inventor and Plastrac President, Ken Bullivant. “We successfully decoupled dosing and feed from the main resin, moving blending to the plant floor and streaming colors and other additives to the feed throat of injection molding machines and extruders to mix synchronously with virgin resin in real time.”
Color changes and minimal maintenance occur on the plant floor. The cart can also be moved easily to ensure unhindered access to injection molding machines and extruders when their maintenance is due. As for ColorStream's own maintenance, the system's clean low pressure transport air ensures there is nothing to clog and very little to clean. ColorStream also dramatically lowers power costs and the need for extra equipment.
ColorStream's cart can support one or more additive feeders (importantly, up to four, with precisely the same small footprint as a cart with one feeder) arranged radially around a collecting funnel for discharge of the additives into a vertically mounted, custom-made venturi that discharges downward into a transport hose. Unlike conventional venturi, which require use of high-pressure compressed air from the factory central system, ColorStream uses low-pressure air supplied by an electrically powered regenerative blower located on the cart. These blowers operate continuously for years and deliver clean air because there are no contacting parts requiring lubrication. The venturi and transport hose are small enough to deliver sufficient air velocity to keep transported granules entrained in the air stream.
At the upper end of the system, a compact but sturdy baffle box mounts to the feed throat of the plastics processing machine. The top flange of this box typically supports the customer’s central loader receiver and buffer hopper, which supply virgin material to the process. A cyclone type receiver inside the baffle box separates the additives from the transport air, which is routed out of the baffle box laterally. A metal screen between the cyclone and the exhaust duct guarantees that stray additive granules cannot escape with exhaust air. Additive granules do not clog the screen, because it is much larger open area reduces air velocity below that required to lift the granules. All surfaces are scrubbed by the transport air or by impingement of additive granules, so that color changes do not require cleaning of the hose or baffle box components. ColorStream works with all injection molding, extrusion, and blow molding machines and with all virgin resins, including PET.
The new ColorStream will be on exhibit at the 2022 K Show in Dusseldorf, Germany, October 19-26, 2022, Hall 10, Stand A01. For details, visit www.plastrac.com, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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