EconCore partners with MEAF in development of lab extruder for continuous thermoplastic honeycomb production.
EconCore partners with MEAF in development of lab extruder for continuous thermoplastic honeycomb production.

EconCore has installed a purpose-built 50 mm extruder as part of a laboratory-scale extrusion and forming line at the company’s recently-refurbished R&D facilities in Leuven, Belgium.

The extruder was built by machining specialist MEAF, based in Yerseke, The Netherlands, and equipped with a 500 mm sheet die built by Austrian flat-die specialist EMO Extrusion Molding.

EconCore’s honeycomb structures are produced from a single continuous thermoplastic sheet using the company’s patented ThermHex technology. This involves a sequence of thermoforming, folding and bonding operations. The process allows for inline bonding of solid skins to one or both sides of the honeycomb to create a finished composite panel.

Before th installation of the new purpose-built extruder, EconCore was carrying out its honeycomb developments using sheet unwound from a roll. ‘Now that we can produce our own sheet in-line, we have more flexibility in our operations and it is obviously much easier to make changes to the material formulations,’ said Wouter Winant, the company’s technical manager.

The extruder can also process polyolefins, bioplastics and thermoplastics such as polycarbonates, polyamides, and polyphenylene sulphide, EconCore said. It has a 50 mm barrel holding a screw with an L:D of 34:1, which is typical for polyolefins. However, it also has an improved heating capability, with each of its five zones rated at 5.8 kW. The extruder is reportedly energy-efficient, with a 600-L dryer for hygroscopic materials is fully integrated into the production system. Maximum output from the extruder is around 150 kg/h.

This story uses material from EconCore, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.