Laurel BioComposite LLC (Laurel, Neb., USA) reported on March 12 that it has purchased an ENTEK E-Max 53-mm twin-screw extruder as the next step in its multi-tiered strategy to provide injection molders with its new patent-pending Bio-Res material.
The production-size extruder (300 hp, 1200 rpm) joins a 25-mm unit in the advanced materials manufacturer’s Minnesota-based pilot plant and offers the capability to produce 1,000 pounds of Bio-Res per hour. The machine’s higher production rate supports 8 million lb annually, one-sixth the projected full-scale (48 million lb) plant capacity. Bio-Res is a high-performance, cost effective replacement for traditional petroleum-based resins in a variety of manufacturing processes for plastics.
“Customers want to know that Laurel BioComposite has substantial production capacity available,” says Tim Bearnes, president of the board for Laurel BioComposite. “The addition of the new extruder will allow us to make test articles for customers before the master batch plant is completed.” The extruder enables Bio-Res to cost-effectively raise the renewable or “green” content of plastic products by as much as 40 percent. The new bio-material is available in a pellet form which blends easily with polyethylene, polypropylene, polylactic acid and PHA matrices.
Bio-Res pellets are made of 80 percent bio-material and sold in master batches. Injection molders can insert the pellets directly into injection molded parts. The material can also be blended with various resins. The product has been tested to replace 20 to 40 percent of the neat resin, reducing traditional petroleum-based resins in a variety of manufacturing processes for plastics by as much as 40 percent. Superior flow characteristics make the material unique in the bio additives market for thermoplastics. Bio-Res is especially suited for use in a range of industries including shipping, lawn and garden, agriculture and automotive applications. In addition to the material’s green advantages, customer-tested Bio-Res-based injection molded parts have already demonstrated a 10 percent increase in stiffness and tensile modulus over the base resin.