To quote Einstein, “If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research.” At the Polymers Technology Center, we know what we are doing when it comes to compounding, but developing new compounds requires flexibility and experimentation. And a lot of creativity because often the equipment that will be needed to overcome obstacles is not available, or even known.

Customers bring their ideas for new compounds and we bring our expertise and compounding equipment. Together we tackle the development of a new process for the creation of a new compound.

Our customer wanted to compound a very low molecular weight wax with filler; the result being a free-flowing pellet. We utilized our 27mm twin, equipped with both underwater or strand pelletizing and our loss in weight feeders.

First Problem: Melting the Wax

Our customer brought large slabs of wax. We do not have a large wax melter. We could use our granulator if the wax was in small chunks, but the wax was gumming up the blades.

First Solution

We were having a cold spell in NC; The outside temperature was 20°F. We stored the wax outdoors overnight. The next day, the wax was easily broken into smaller pieces and did not gum up the blades.

Second Problem: Pelletizing

We do not have a hot face cutter and we couldn’t use water. We have a conveyor for these temperatures, but the material had no melt strength. It fell apart on the belt and we could not get it to the cutter.

Second Solution

We cut a piece of aluminum pipe and placed it in front of the die, so the extrudate would hit coming out of die. This broke the “pseudo melt” material into prills.

The prills were cooled using sophisticated cooling technology – Walmart fans. They were conveyed into a vibratory screener without screens to break up any longer “prills”, and finally collected in drums.

The customer was very happy. We were able to find a way to successfully run a product that the customer could not run before. In response, the customer requested another run of 1000 lbs.