At MD&M West/Plastec West 2024, Conair Group, together with technology partners Davis Standard and Zumbach Electronics, will be demonstrating the production of extruded, tapered medical tubing made from a photoluminescent blend of thermoplastic elastomer. The demonstration, which will produce tapered photoluminescent tube segments that join into souvenir loops, will be ongoing in Booth 4111 during the tradeshow held in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2024.
Upstream, the tube extrusion process begins as materials enter the process: virgin Teknor Medalist TPE is delivered through a Conair AL-2 Access loader, while photoluminescent masterbatch arrives through a TLM Tube loader, both mounted atop a TrueBlend™ TB45 blender which creates the material mix. The blender rests on a new TBBS blender stand with an integral material hopper, whose bolted construction offers lower cost, lighter weight, and easier mobility than earlier all-welded models.
A second TLM Tube Loader, mounted on the extruder hopper, draws the blended material from the hopper to the feedthroat of a Davis-Standard 1-inch HPE (High Performance) medical extruder. The speed of the extrudate is regulated by the 10-inch HMI touchscreen control on the Conair Medline 1-12 Puller/Cutter unit, which is located downstream. Rapid changes in tube taper and sizing are managed by “bump tube” software in the Medline puller control and internal air-pressure changes are delivered by a Zumbach SPV-1 digital airbox. Together, these produce the tube shape, which tapers from a minimum of 0.175 in. OD up to a maximum of 0.220 in OD over a length of approximately 12 inches.
From the extruder, melt passes through an extrusion die and is skinned by a non-contact tube calibrator at the entrance to the Conair Medvac 238 single-pass vacuum-sizing/cooling tank. Tank vacuum is regulated by a 10-inch Medvac touchscreen control. Vacuum tank temperature is managed by two other Conair medical-grade MedLine® auxiliaries, including a Thermolator® temperature control unit (TCU) and a Conair EP1A-02 (two-ton) portable air-cooled chiller. A Zumbach ultrasonic tube gauge near the front of the tank measures wall thickness of the “hot” tube, displaying real-time tube dimensions on a wall-mounted HMI and communicating them to the extrusion control.
Emerging from the tank, the tapered tubing proceeds through a final “cold” OD check, completed by a Zumbach ODAC gauge before entering a Conair Medline 1-12 puller/cutter unit. The Medline puller features a 1-inch wide, 12-inch long puller belt that can operate at speeds from 2.5 to 250 ft/min. Puller and extrusion line speed are regulated through an automatic 10-inch touchscreen HMI control mounted on the puller which, as noted, is equipped with special “bump tube” software. Mounted on the same puller/cutter platform, a servo-controlled rotating-blade cutter produces the 12-inch tubing segments. This cutter is capable of up to 350 cuts per minute in encoder mode (on-demand mode), and up to 3,000 cuts per minute in flywheel mode.
Cut tube segments proceed onto a six-foot-long Conair MTAC automated take-away conveyor for sortation. The conveyor interfaces with the puller control and the Zumbach measurement units to validate finished tube dimensions. A compressed-air sortation system blows “good” segments off the side of the conveyor onto a collection tray, while out-of-spec segments flow off the end of the conveyor into a scrap bin. The finished, tapered tube segments, which can be looped and connected together to form a phosphorescent necklace or ring, will be made available as souvenirs to show attendees.
The Conair Group (www.conairgroup.com) offers innovative auxiliary equipment solutions to plastics processors around the world. With 32 degreed engineers, including 16 senior team members with an average of over 23 years of experience, Conair brings unparalleled technical expertise and support to its customers, guaranteeing its products will deliver maximum productive uptime. Twenty parts and service team members respond to tens of thousands of calls each year, answering in an average of about 15 seconds. Over 450 individual products include resin drying systems, blenders, feeders and material-conveying systems, temperature-control equipment, and granulators. Extrusion solutions include line-control systems, film and sheet scrap-reclaim systems, and downstream equipment for pipe and profile extrusion. Conair also has specialized expertise in every major end market – such as packaging, medical, transportation, building and construction, and many others – and strives to ensure plastics processors succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace.