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Turning Regrind into Profit with Pelletron DeDuster® Technology

A family-owned, custom plastics molding company invests $7.6million to expand its operation and improve its bottom line. Reclaiming scrap plastic through dedusting results in huge savings for producer and customer.

A family-owned, custom plastics molding company, took advantage of a strong economy and state financial incentives to invest $7.6 million to expand and improve its production facilities. The growth included doubling the workforce with the addition of 300 new jobs, expanding production space from 90,000 square feet to 170,000 square feet, and installing 20 new, state-of-the-art injection molding machines.

The investment paid off, in business growth and its already solid industry reputation grew stronger. The company’s three facilities together offer an array of technical capabilities, including two-shot, reel-to-reel, and gas assist molding, and silicone overmolding. The company uses modern microprocessor-controlled injection molding machines in temperature- and humidity-controlled environments and it has cleanroom manufacturing capabilities to Class 10,000. Its product lines include business machine products, medical devices, automotive components and accessories, cellular phones, and other products.

After the company’s well-publicized expansion, it purchased a Pelletron P10 DeDuster®, a less costly piece of equipment that played an important role in the company’s growth. “We were experiencing some tremendous growth at the time, but we thought we could still improve the quality of our product,” said the material control supervisor. “The DeDuster® was brought in a short time later to help maximize our regrind use.”

For example: If a plastics product manufacturer used 180,000 pounds of resin per week at $1.25 per pound, material costs would be $225,000 per week. If only one percent is lost through scrap, the manufacturer loses $2,250 each week in unused material. By regrinding the scrap into a useable resin, the manufacturer can virtually eliminate such losses.

However, regrind has a downside – dust. Depending on how the scrap is recycled, the dust levels can be significant, lowering material quality, increasing equipment maintenance, negatively impacting worker safety as a result of any air borne particles, and reducing profits. In many instances, the dust content in regrind is higher than at any other time in the production process. With regrind, dust content frequently reaches more than 10 percent. For virgin materials, a dust content of one percent by weight is considered significant, and when the resin in the press has dust it causes short shots and it affects with the entire process.

Regrind, because of its inherent value, is an important issue on all levels of the plastics manufacturing industry. If conditions are right, molders can significantly increase profit margins by increasing the amount of regrind used in the production process. The more regrind available for use; the less virgin material is required, which lowers material costs and increases profit margins.

By purchasing the P10 DeDuster®, a mid-range Pelletron model with a processing capacity of 1,000lbs/hr, the company was able to turn scrap plastics into useable regrind by reducing the percentage of dust content. That translated into an increase in profit margins for the molder as well as its clients.

“We saw a return on investment in the DeDuster® within the first year, if not sooner. Without the dedusting, we were about 80 percent efficient over 24 hours. But with the Pelletron P10 DeDuster® giving us the ability to clean the material, we’re easily between 90 and 100 percent. There are certainly a lot less complaints from our press technicians when we run regrind that has been run through the Pelletron,” according to management.

For one customer, the company was able to produce two orders of product using 100-percent regrind, a nearly unthinkable feat prior to installing the dedusting unit. “The Pelletron machine paid for itself right then and there. More importantly, we were able to cut our customer’s cost by more than 50 percent.” It is estimated that the company reuses up to 15 percent more regrind than in the past by cycling the material through the Pelletron DeDuster®. The net effect is cleaner parts produced less expensively, creating better returns for both the producer and its customers, and the customers see the results by getting a good product on time.

Pelletron’s dedusting technology uses a flux-field generator to disrupt the static charge between the regrind and the dust particles. Once the charge is broken and the regrind and dust particles are separated, they are washed with air to help lift the dust away from the resin. The dust is removed with the help of a vacuum near the top of the machine, while the clean regrind falls through the bottom to a storage bin for eventual reuse.

This custom plastics molding company uses two P10 DeDusters® to separate fines from all types of materials, including polypropylene, polycarbonate, nylon (all types), liquid crystal polymer, ABS, high- and low-density polyethylene, polyester, and more. Before the DeDuster® regrind was rarely used. However, since the implementation, they have been able to use more of the different types of regrind than in the past improving efficiency and profitability. The usual operating conditions include dedusting between 70 and 100 pounds of material per hour, depending on the project and the makeup of the material. The P10s are located off-line near the regrind room and are fed material as it’s needed. Depending on the day, as little as 300 pounds or as much as 4,000 pounds is processed in a 24-hour period. The dedusting system needs very little maintenance, even when processing different blends of materials. Less than an hour is spent cleaning the DeDuster® when changing from one material to another.

Future plans for this satisfied customer include the installation of a P1 Mini-DeDuster®. The P1 is Pelletron’s newest and smallest unit with a capacity of up to 1,000 pounds per hour. This system will be installed at the feed throat of one of the company’s molding machines where the P1 will be used to dedust both virgin and regrind materials. In the words of the customer, “if there is anything else out there that is better at removing dust from regrind, I haven’t found it.”