Extrusion is a common manufacturing process that creates material and/or product by passing it through a cross sectional die. There are a lot of benefits to the extrusion process, including the ability to create material that is thin, material that has a good surface finish and materials that otherwise would be difficult to create with conventional processes. In fact, some of the common materials that are created via the extrusion process include plastic film, ceramics, concrete, polymers, metals, food – and even play dough. (Aluminum, for example, is thought to be the most popular extruded material.)
As a reminder, the type of equipment that is needed to extrude material is known as an “extruder” – and there are several different types of extruders, all which have varying possibilities and are usually catered specifically to certain extruded materials. This post is intended to serve as a reference guide in terms of helping you decide which type of extruder you need for the type of material you’re looking to produce. After all, you can’t purchase a hot or cold feed extruder for extruding metal and expect it to be able to also process food or plastic film. Here’s a closer look at helping you to answer the question – “What type of extruder do I need?”
For plastic film, a material that’s commonly used to create pouches and bags used in flexible packaging applications, all that you’d need is a plastic film extrusion machine. There are various manufacturers that build these types of machines. One thing to note about these machines is that they’re a very expensive capital investment, as they can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another thing to note is that these machines can create a variety of different plastic film types, such as polypropylene, polyethylene and films of various barriers. They’re a great fit for suppliers and converters of packaging. For instance, a supplier might simply create the film via extrusion and sell it to its customers, who are the converters. Or a converter may decide to purchase a machine so that it can do everything in house – create the plastic film, create the pouch and/or bag and then print on the package before sending it off to be filled.
As we mentioned in the opening, metals are also commonly extruded materials, with aluminum being the most popular of them. Specifically, extruded aluminum is used to make things like frames and rails, profiles for railroad tracks and heat sinks, among others. To extrude aluminum, as well as other metals, a hot or cold feed extruder is necessary, as such metals can often be extruded via one of the aforementioned methods. Aside from aluminum, here’s a look at some of the other metals that are popular via the extrusion process:
- Brass: Rods, auto parts and pipes are commonly created with such parts.
- Copper: Plumbing, rods and tubes are popular products that are created thanks in part to extrusion.
- Titanium and magnesium: Parts used in the aerospace industry are common byproducts of extrusion.
- Lead: For things like wires and cables.
- Steel: Similar to aluminum, steel is often extruded to help build rods and parts of railroad tracks.
If you’re looking to produce ceramic pipes, tiles or bricks, then you’ll likely need a specialty clay extruder. These types of extruders are generally less expensive than the extruders that you’ll need to have on hand to extrude plastic film and metals, as clay extruders generally cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Another popular material thing that can be extruded is none other than food. Yes, food. Specifically, the likes of pasta, baby foods, french fries, cookie dough and pet food are popular foods that are often created and processed via extrusion. Extruder machines for the purpose of food processing arrived on the market as long ago as the late 1800s, specifically for extruding meats to make for sausages. Today, most manufacturers use a twin screw extruder for processing foods. These machines work by first grounding mix, then passing this mix through an appropriate pre-conditioner. Any other ingredients are added during this pre-conditioning stage. Following this step, these extruders add steam to the process and the material can then be extruded, as the screw in the twin screw extruder works to force the material toward the die for processing. There are various other steps to the extrusion process, such as cooking the material, cooling it and drying it. What’s more is that there are also several things, both good and bad, that often result from the extrusion of food. These include:
- Minimizing toxins and microorganisms within the food.
- Creation of certain starches.
- Lysine reduction.
- Loss of Vitamin A.
Depending on the industry that you’re in and the type of extrusion equipment that you’ll need to produce your desired final product also depends on how much you can expect said equipment to cost. Needless to say, but some extruders are more expensive than others. For instance, a plastic film extruder might run hundreds of thousands of dollars, while an extruder that can process ceramic runs several thousand dollars. Regardless of what type of extruder that you need for your operations, the cost of acquiring a new one can be a lot for a business to stomach, especially if this business is just starting up or is forced to purchase a new machine unexpectedly. Thankfully, there are other options out there. One of these options is the credible, used and refurbished industrial and commercial equipment resource, Bid on Equipment. The comprehensive resource allows people to browse the selected equipment – many of which areextruders – and make a bid to acquire the equipment for a fraction of the actual new retail price. Think of it as getting like new equipment for a used price, something that can come in handy for many businesses, whether they’re just starting up or have had an unexpected breakdown in current extrusion equipment.
For more information on extrusion equipment, and to browse our library of extruders that are currently available and up for bid, visit Bid on Equipment today.