Paul Murphy Plastics: Beyond the Thermometer – Explores the Degrees of Heat in Extrusion

December 27, 2023

In the elucidating piece “Extrusion Basics: Hot Can Be Good, but It’s a Matter of Degree” from Plastics Today, the article delves into the intricate relationship between heat and plastics, unraveling the chemistry that governs the extrusion process. Authored with clarity and insight, this article challenges misconceptions about plastics, encouraging a deeper understanding of their benign chemistry.

The article draws a parallel between the historical translations of chemical knowledge and the modern-day skepticism surrounding plastics. It emphasizes the need to overcome unfounded fears and learn the essential chemical code, including elements like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and chlorine, to comprehend plastics and additives.

Returning to the realm of heat, the article dismisses the notion of cold and defines heat as the measure of how fast atoms are moving. For successful extrusion, plastics need to reach temperatures between 300° and 600°F (150° and 315°C) to flow through the system. The specific temperature requirements vary based on the plastic’s characteristics, additives, and flow rates.

The challenge lies in achieving a uniform melt temperature throughout the extruder, as the material undergoes friction-induced heat and cooling or heating depending on barrel-wall settings. The significance of understanding the viscosity-temperature relation, influenced by additives and material lots, is underscored. The article sheds light on the role of additives, such as waxes and mineral powdered solids, in altering viscosity and, consequently, extrusion temperature.

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