Process Cooling Control Enhances Molding Parameter Accuracy

Plastics Business

Polymer Conversions, Inc., Orchard Park, New York, is a full-service injection molding contract manufacturer specializing in Class 7 (10,000) and Class 8 (100,000) Critical-To-Life™ products for the healthcare, aerospace and defense industries. The company’s approach to producing these high-quality thermoplastic products is predicated in large part on complete and total control of tooling and molding processes. When undergoing a plant expansion in 2012, Polymer Conversions expanded its ability to tightly control temperatures in the injection molding process by partnering with Frigel.

The project goals included

  • gaining more temperature control accuracy and flexibility at each molding machine;
  • simplifying process-cooling configurations to improve efficiencies, while minimizing maintenance time and costs; and
  • minimizing the company’s ecological footprint on the local community.

After a comprehensive process cooling analysis by Frigel, a plan was implemented to gradually replace older equipment with an integrated system. In the end, Polymer Conversions added 15 Microgel RCD combined chiller/temperature control units (TCUs), two Ecodry central coolers and a microprocessor-based controller system with remote monitoring service. The Microgels are portable and can be positioned next to each of the molding center’s 25 press locations. The Ecodry coolers supply process cooling water to the Microgels through a closed-loop system, which replaced an open cooling tower and a central air-cooled chiller.

Polymer Conversions, an organization which professes a desire to “fanatically control everything we make,” took one more step forward in its quest for total control of known variables within its molding operation. The new process cooling system allows the company to

  • control process-cooling temperatures within +/- 3 degrees F versus +/- 5 degrees F with the old system;
  • eliminate the need for multiple portable chillers and temperature control units for each press location;
  • more quickly set up, disconnect and drain the units;
  • save much as 95 percent in process cooling water compared to the open cooling tower; and
  • virtually eliminate maintenance issues associated with the former system, while also allowing for zero chemical discharge to the municipal wastewater system.
Thank you to Frigel (www.frigel.com) and Polymer Conversions, Inc. (www.polymerconversions.com) for providing the case study from which this article is extracted.