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Sandvik double belt press process quintuples production capacity for fibre composites

Sandvik Coromant UK : 06 August, 2004  (Company News)
A double belt press system, tailored to the specific needs of fibre composite material production has secured a 3 million Euros order for Sandvik Process Systems, part of Sandvik Materials Technology.

Designed to process fibre composites into 1200mm wide sheets used in the manufacture of acoustic, insulation and fire resistant building panels, the Sandvik system will yield a maximum manufacturing capacity for its Korean customer, five times greater than the existing equipment.

Seven different types of fibre composite are processed in thicknesses ranging from 3mm up to 30mm. Key to the manufacturing route are close control of the process pressures and temperatures and the need for long, continuous production runs. Sandvik Process Systems is supplying a complete processing system from the initial fibre composite feeding station, through a four zone heating area, a two zone material expansion area and two cooling zones. It also includes integrated heating, air and water systems and a belt tensioning unit. The total system length is approximately 33 meters and it uses two stainless steel belts of 65 and 69 meter lengths. Downstream processing for panel cutting and palletising utilises existing customer equipment.

Beginning at the feeder station, fibre composite material is fed on to the lower steel belt and carried into the double belt unit, where it is precompressed between the 1474mm wide belts, before entering the first of four heating zones. A specially developed release agent system ensures no adhesion of the product to the steel belt.

The composite material is heated to approximately 280˚C with hot air which is applied to the product through upper and lower nozzles located between the belt rollers. All system rollers are 214mm diameter, made from carbon steel and chemically nickel plated.

The process air temperature is regulated individually for each zone. Since temperature control is critical to the process, both the heating and expansion zones are fully enclosed.

The pressure required to compress and form the composite is applied by upper rollers mounted on to a height adjustable frame and the product 'gap', determining the material's thickness, is manually adjusted for each zone.

In the next part of the process, the product expands whilst it is air cooled to approximately 70˚C. Here both the upper and lower steel belts are controlled by a patented Sandvik system of permanent magnetic rollers, which allow for expansion of the composite material - the upper belt lifts to compensate for the increased material thickness whilst the lower belt is retained.

In the final downstream zones, the material is further cooled to approximately 30˚C by spraying with water. This also smoothes the surface. An end-of-line drive station provides an active control system which both tracks and tensions the upper and lower belts and minimises wear on belt edges.

All bearings throughout the system are self-lubricated and there are no mechanical seals requiring maintenance.

Installation of the new plant began in May 2004 and it is due for commissioning and operation by September 2004. Full operator training by Sandvik Process Systems is provided with the supply package.

Sandvik Process Systems is a major supplier of production systems for the wood based panel industry and now has over 250 systems designed, supplied and installed worldwide.
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