Extrusion plays an important role in the plastics industry. Unlike molding, extrusion is a continuous process that can be adapted to produce a wide range of finished or semi - finished products, including pipes, profiles, sheets, film and wire covering. Extrusion machines are fitted with a variety of dies. Dies often require external heating to keep the plastic viscous. This is accomplished by using electric cartridge heaters inserted in holes in the die, or by other custom electric heating elements that are mounted to the die.
A plastic extrusion customer approached BCE with a problematic heater that, upon its failure, would render the entire line out of commission. Not only did the failed heater stop production, but it also was difficult and time consuming to replace.
After reviewing the application, BCE engineers quickly determined the heater was designed as a consumable part with limited operational life, and little to no serviceability. BCE was going to have to design a replacement heater that would not only be a drop-in retrofit, but would be built to last and easy to replace if needed.
After generating all the necessary drawings and 3D models, BCE’s engineers successfully designed and manufactured a circular custom heater assembly to replace the customer’s original part. Custom tubular heaters were embedded into a machined aluminum ring. The positioning of the heater terminals were key to the ease of replacement and had to be carefully engineered.
With this new, improved design, BCE was able to increase heater performance and efficiency, as well as guaranteeing temperature uniformity to within 2 °C around the periphery.
The entire process, review, design, development, prototyping, and production, was all accomplished in a two-week time from start to finish.