Looking Back at a Major Improvement with Thermal Control Solutions
Each new year arrives filled with opportunities and possibilities. But it’s also a time for looking back at previous years to assess how we have grown and improved.
One such improvement (and it’s an important one) is in the way we heat plastic in our injection molding operation. It might seem inconsequential to an outsider, but it’s a major step forward for our business, our customers, and our employees.
Traditionally, working with heat has been a complex problem. Heat constantly seeks equilibrium, which means it’s always moving to cooler areas to create a consistent temperature. This, in turn, creates two prickly issues for the plastic processor: escaping heat is expensive and wastes energy, and it increases temperatures in the shop, which creates an uncomfortable working environment.
The answer, of course, is to find a way to transfer heat efficiently to where it’s needed and to keep it from escaping to areas where it isn’t wanted or needed.
Standard band heaters worked OK but…
Traditional band heaters are wrapped around the injection molding barrel and cycle on and off to maintain a set temperature. The problem with this method is the inconsistent heat in the melt. Whenever the melt drops below the set temperature, band heaters are programmed to turn on and push the temperature back up to the setpoint. But even after regaining the proper temperature and shutting off, residual heat continues to drive the temperature higher than the setpoint.
Conversely, when the melt cools, the heaters kick in but not until the temperature has dropped below the set point. The slow response time causes inefficient energy transfer.
Another downside to band heaters: Much of the heat they generate is lost to the surrounding environment instead of being delivered directly to the melt. The overheated work areas make for miserable working conditions, and the typical solution, large ceiling fans, merely push hot air down and blow heat off the band heaters causing them to use even more energy to maintain the proper temperature.
A more efficient method for heating plastic
Here at SEA-LECT Plastics, every recently-purchased mold machine has come equipped with a Thermal Control Solution (TCS) from Rex Materials Group. A system that contains radiant heating elements embedded in high-temperature insulation, TCS holds a consistent melt temperature with heat delivered via infrared radiation heat transfer.
Barrels now reach their operating temperature in less than half the time of traditional band heaters, increasing our machines’ productivity.
Another benefit is a significant reduction in the amount of heat that escapes, which improves comfort for our workers. And TCS is cool to the touch, so there is no risk of burns or other injuries to our employees.
Quicker response times combined with more efficient heat transfers to the melt help to substantially reduce temperature fluctuations, allowing us to maintain the highest quality standards for our customers.
Since we have purchased machines equipped with TCS, we have seen the following changes:
- More efficient heat transfer
- Safer and more comfortable working conditions
- Less energy consumption
- Consistent quality
- Better machine utilization
For more information about our plastic injection molding, design and engineering or tooling services contact us @ (425)-339-0288 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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