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The Basics of Good Extrusion Screw Design

The Basics of Good Extrusion Screw Design

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Published by: Amandeep Singh Gujral on Jun 28, 2012
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TheBasicsofGoodExtrusionScrewDesign
byTimothyW.WomerDirectorofResearch
&
DevelopmentSpirexCorporationOpeningDiscussionThefirstthingwewanttoknowaboutaplasticextruderiswhatitisandwhatitdoes.Anextruderismadeofmanycomponents(SeeFigure
I)
including:(
I)
agearboxmountedtoafabricatedbase;(2)aDCdrivemotor,drivingthebox;(3)anintegralthrustbearing;(4)afeedthroatsection;(5)anelectricallyheatedbarrelwhichiseitherairorwatercooled;and(6)theheartoftheextruder-theplasticatingscrewwhichisthetopicofthispaper.
Figure1
Whatdoyouwantyourextrudertodoforyou?Primarilyyouwantittoproduceacontinuous-shapedproductoutofselectedmaterialormaterials.Thescrewhastolowerthematerial'sviscositysothatitwillconformtotherequiredshape,andthescrewalsomustgeneratepressuretoforcethematerialintothatrequiredshape.Earlyscrewswereusedtoprocessrubber.(SeeFigure2)TherubberscrewshadveryshortLIDsand,inordertocompresstheairoutoftherubber.thescrewshadvaryingpitches.Thevaryingpitchiswhatgavethescrewitscompression.Thisis
Figure2
accomplishedbystartingwithanincreasedleadinthefeedsectionandgraduallydecreasinginpitchasitwenttowardthedischargeendofthescrew.Intheearlydaysofplastics,rubberextruderswereusedandwerefoundthatthescrewsforrubberwerenotadequateenoughtoputampleamountsofshearintothepolymer.(SeeFigure3)Theresultantscrewdesignshadaconstantpitchwithvaryingdepths.Theywouldstartdeeperinthefeedandgraduallytapershallowerinthemeteringsectiontoapplymoreworkonthepolymerasitwasgoingfromthefeedtothedischarge.
Figure3
 
Beforewecontinue,wewillclarifysomecommonnomenclatureusedinscrewdescriptions.(SeeFigure4).Thefirstpartofthescrewwherethematerialentersthroughthefeedthroatinapelletformorpowderformisknownasthefeedsection.
Figure4
Thisiswherethematerialisconveyedforwardandisslightlycompactedtostartthemeltingprocess.Asitleavesthefeedsectionitentersthetransitionsectionwheretherootofthescrewgraduallyincreasesindiametertoapplytheneededshearonthematerialtoproducetheuniformmeltdesired.Oncethematerialpassesthroughthetransitionsectionitentersaconstantdepthmeteringsectionthatisusedtopumpmaterialagainstthepressuresdevelopedbythedownstreamdie.Thesethreesectionsin-combinationareknownastheflightedlength.Addinzacommontermusedindescribing
b~
screwsistheirLIDratio.TheLIDratioiscalcu-latedbydividingtheflightedlengthbytheout-sidediameterofthescrew.Forexample,ifa2
1/2"
screwhasa
fl
ightlengthof60",theLIDratioofthisscrewwouldbe24:I.Anothercommonlyusedterminscrewdescriptionisthecompressionratio.Thecompressionratioisthefeeddepthdividedbythemeteringdepth.Forexample,ifascrewhadafeeddepthof.450andameteringdepthof.150itissaidtohaveacompressionratioof3:I.Fourmainfunctionsoftheextruderscrewdiscussedinthispaperthatmusttakeplacesimultaneouslyare(I)consistentfeedingoftheresin:(2)uniformmeltingoftheresin;(3)steadypumpingoftheresin;and(4)homogeneousmixingoftheresin.FeedingMechanismStartingwiththefeedsection,pelletsenterthefeedthroatthroughthehopperandintothefeedsectionofthescrew.Solidsconveyingtakesplaceatthispoint.(SeeFigure5)Solidsconvey-ingistheaxialforwardingoftheplasticpelletsinadownstreamdirection.(SeeFigure6).
Figure5Figure6
Inorderforuniformfeedingtotakeplace,theresinmuststicktothebarrelandsliponthescrewtogainmaximumoutputthatisknowninthefeedingmechanismasplugflow.Ifbychancethematerialwouldhappentosticktotherootofthescrewandsliponthebarrel,ameltplugwoulddevelopandtherewouldhenoforwardingoftheresininthedownstreamdirection.Insomecases,somematerialsfeedverypoorly.Forexamplepolypropylene,somenylonsandhighmolecularweightpolyethyleneallhaveverypoorfeedingcharacteristics.Therearesomeapplicationswherebarrelgroovingisnecessary.Thesegrooves
 
Figure7
enhancesolidsconveyingbyforcingthepelletstobemoveddownwardinanaxialdirection.(SeeFigure7)Groovingcanbedoneseveralwayseitherinaxialgroovesorhelicalgrooves.Helicalgroovestypicallygive10-15%moreefficiencyandproducemuchhigherinternalpressuresthandosmoothfeedsections.Grooveswillincreaseoutputbyatleast20%.Thisisdonebydevelopinghighinternalpressuresimmediatelyatthatstartofthefeedzone.Thesehighinternalpressuresenhancethefeedingandenhancethemeltingofthematerialinthetran-sitionsectionofthescrew.MeltingMechanismWehavecometothesecondportionofthescrewwhichisthetransitionsection.(SeeFigure8).
Figure8
Thetransitionsectionofthescrewiswheremostofthemeltingtakesplaces.(SeeFigure9)Astheresintransitionsuptheinclineofthetransitionsectionthepelletsareforcedagainstthebarrelwall,causingshearonthematerialaswellaspickingupheatfromtheexternalheatingcle-ments.Theresultantmeltfilmisthencollecteduniformlyonthepushsideoftheflight.Onceitreachestheendofthetransition,solidsbedbreakupoccursandthefinalamountsofpolymer
Figure9
aremeltedthroughconvectionheatthatsurroundstheunmeltedparticles.Thesolidsbedtransitionsupthebarrelinahelicaltransitionthatallowsthematerialtobeforcedagainstthebarreluniformlywherethesolidmeltinterfaceandthemeltfilmpolymershearagainsteachother,causingthemelttobecollectedonthepushside.Circularflowoccursinthemeltpoolduetothepressuredifferentialsthatoccurinthechannel.Thepushsideoftheflighthasgreaterpressureandthetrailingsideoftheflightwillhaveareducedpres-sure.Thesepressuredifferentialsarewhatcausethecircularflowofthepolymerinthemeltpool.Asplasticprocessingbecamemoresophisticated,sodidscrewdesign.Backinthelate1950's-early1960'sbarrierscrewscameintoplay.Abarrierscrewisamechanismthatincreasesmeltingcapacitiesofascrew.Primarilythepurposeistoseparatethesolidsbedfromthemeltpoolbyamechanicalbarrierflight.Attheendofthefeedsectionthesecondaryflightisintroducedwhichisusedtocapturethemoltenmaterialformedonthepushsideoftheflight.Thisisdonebymeansofabarrierthatisseparatingthesolidsandmeltpool.ThebarrierflightisslightlyundercutfromthemajorO.D.ofthescrew,allowingthemeltfilmonthesolidsbedtopassoverandbecollectedinthemeltchannel.Thereisavarietyofbarrierscrews.Theonediscussedinthispaper

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