Continuous thermoplastic honeycomb produced in-line with lab extruder

Flexible extruder for honeycomb production can handle a wide range of thermoplastics from polyolefins to engineering thermoplastics.

Community for Plastics Professionals EconCore honeycomb structures is produced from a single continuous thermoplastic sheet using the company’s patented ThermHex technology. This involves a sequence of thermoforming, folding and bonding operations. Cell size, density, and thickness of the honeycombs can be altered with simple hardware and/or process parameter adjustments.

The process allows for inline bonding of solid skins to one or both sides of the honeycomb, to create an extremely cost-effective finished composite panel. Prior to the 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,” says Wouter Winant, the company’s Technical Manager.

At the heart of the upgraded line is a purpose-built 50-mm extruder, built by MEAF Machines B.V. (Yerseke, The Netherlands) and equipped with a special 500-mm sheet die built by flat-die specialist EMO Extrusion Molding (Micheldorf, Austria). EconCore and MEAF collaborated closely on the design of the laboratory extruder, which is equally capable of processing polyolefins, bioplastics and high-performance thermoplastics such as polycarbonates, polyamides, and polyphenylene sulfide.

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