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News

Thermography aids compounding of additives into bioplastics

IKT Institute Of Plastics Technology At Stuttgart University : 10 January, 2014  (Special Report)
The IKT Institute of Plastics Technology at Stuttgart University has demonstrated the use of thermography as a non-destructive test method for lightweight plastic parts and compounding of additives into bioplastics with a mini-compounder fitted with an open processing zone.
In the area of high performance single-screw compounding machinery, Stefan Epple of IKT is developing the Helibar concept of extrusion machinery producer Extrudex. Although the Helibar extruder’s continuously helical-grooved barrel achieves high melt throughput by generation of high pressure, Epple says the downside is short residence times which can cause decreasing melt homogeneity in some materials.
 
The IKT project on the Helibar system seeks to address the homogeneity issue by “development and investigation of suitable mixing section geometries through systematic variation of screw and barrel geometry, along with development of an objective method to evaluate melt homogeneity.”
 
As part of its work in reactive extrusion of new and existing polymers, IKT has developed a new “RIM pultrusion” in-situ process for production of continuous glass-fibre-reinforced PA 6 semi-finished products. Production speeds are 1m/min with potential of 2m/min.
 
In bioplastics, IKT has investigated bio-based thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as an impact modifier for polylactic acid (PLA), together with 3% methylene diphenyl-diisocyanate coupling agent. Benefits were found in elongation at break and impact strength values, compared with the usual PBAT biodegradable impact modifier used in PLA. 
 
3D printing is also a theme for IKT in a new project aimed at developing 3D printing in bio-based plastics, with the company Biopro and Fraunhofer Institute.
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