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NOVEL REACTIVE EXTRUSION TECHNOLOGY FOR THERMOSETTING RESINS IN PRODUCTS
WITHIN CONSTRUCTION AND OTHER INDUSTRIAL MARKETS
...
- Market context
In the world of plastic, conventional thermoplastic materials today represent a market share
around 85% o...
- Technological context and basis of the new thermosetting extrusion process
The extrusion of thermosetting resins is a pr...
 Fast processing rate.
 High production capacity.
 High energy efficiency.
 Simplification and versatility of the extr...
 Applications in industrial markets
The high thermal resistance of certain resins will allow the canalization and conduct...
In addition to the technical difficulty in upscaling, for each segment and application there are
regulatory considerations...
- Conclusions
There is now a very favorable situation for the introduction of new materials and the
development of new app...
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INDRESMAT - Novel Reactive Extrusion Technology for Thermosetting Resins in Products within Construction and Industrial Markets

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INDRESMAT is an innovation project for the development of a disruptive extrusion technology which was presented at the Networking Activities of the International Plastics and Rubber Event in Barcelona (EQUIPLAST 2017). The designed technology aims to introduce new extruded products into the market made from thermosetting resins such as polyurethane, polyester, phenolic and epoxy resins, among others. This novel reactive extrusion technology will enable a high productivity of bars, tubes, pipes, profiles, trays, plates, blocks and similar products to be used in low to high tech applications for different industrial markets and especially in construction. These materials will incorporate new features of plastic thermosets into the new
products mainly related to their resistance to temperature, to chemical agents and to mechanical stress.

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INDRESMAT - Novel Reactive Extrusion Technology for Thermosetting Resins in Products within Construction and Industrial Markets

  1. 1. NOVEL REACTIVE EXTRUSION TECHNOLOGY FOR THERMOSETTING RESINS IN PRODUCTS WITHIN CONSTRUCTION AND OTHER INDUSTRIAL MARKETS - Abstract INDRESMAT is an innovation project that will present the design of a new extrusion technology at the Networking Activities of the International Plastics and Rubber Event from October 2nd to 6th in Barcelona (EQUIPLAST 2017). The designed technology aims to introduce new extruded products into the market made from thermosetting resins such as polyurethane, polyester, phenolic and epoxy resins, among others. This novel reactive extrusion technology will enable a high productivity of bars, tubes, pipes, profiles, trays, plates, blocks and similar products to be used in low to high tech applications for different industrial markets and especially in construction. These materials will incorporate new features of plastic thermosets into the new products mainly related to their resistance to temperature, to chemical agents and to mechanical stress. Key words: extrusion, plastics, thermosetting resins, thermosets, innovation, industrial, construction, pipes, sheets, profiles.
  2. 2. - Market context In the world of plastic, conventional thermoplastic materials today represent a market share around 85% of the world's demand for all plastics (1) , with extrusion being the transformation process with highest volume of production followed by the injection molding process. In particular, the new extrusion technology will find numerous applications in the construction market, where the European pipe and profile segments accounted around 55% of the consumption for all plastics in this sector during 2015 (2) . Taking PVC as reference for the most demanded plastic in the construction market, the manufacture of pipes and profiles with this thermoplastic (Figure 1) accounted for approximately 60% of total plastics consumption in that sector during 2015 (3) , being the rigid PVC pipe the application with the greatest turnover, standing around 2.000 M€ for this year in Europe (4) . Figure 1. PVC extruded pipes and profiles Despite the controversy generated by some studies indicating the possible existence of a stagnant demand for PVC and even some of them forecast a contraction for the next years in Europe (5) , the fact is that PVC remains the world's leading material choice by manufacturers of pipes and profile products. Nevertheless, there is a potential growth in demand related with an increase in the global economic activity, not only for PVC but also for all plastic materials in this market segment. Linked to this, it is well known that in the pipelines segment, and in general for extruded products, there is a favorable trend to the introduction of new materials in all sectors since raw materials such as metals, concrete and ceramics, among others, are giving way to the entrance of products made with new plastic materials. In the context of the market described, it is very interesting to extend the extrusion model to the thermosetting resins since this situation represents a business opportunity for these materials, given the size of the market and available segments that may be accessible to products with high technical performance features. Thermosetting resins offer new advantages in extruded products for high-added value applications, which include the possibility of channeling hot fluids, solvents or even corrosive liquids while maintaining the integrity of their structure. In addition, there is also a market opportunity in applications where thermoplastics, due to their own nature, have not yet entered and where products with thermoset properties could have a great chance as those enabled by the extrusion technology designed by INDRESMAT.
  3. 3. - Technological context and basis of the new thermosetting extrusion process The extrusion of thermosetting resins is a process that today is technically underdeveloped due to its difficulty, lack of efficiency and low performance of the devices designed until today. In the past there have been several proposals for the development of this type of products (6,7) , which have not been very successful as evidenced by the scarce supply of commercial devices for the continuous processing of resins. In addition, extrusion products manufactured with this family of plastic materials are also not on the market. Commercially, the most similar to these products are those obtained by pultrusion processes, although this process is slow and its design is necessarily associated with the reinforcement of these materials with fibers. The technology designed by INDRESMAT (8) has taken into account the technical limitations of conventional screw extruders for thermoplastics to process resins and the advantages offered by piston injectors. While the screw extruders are designed to transport solids that melt at a certain temperature to achieve an extrusion process after solidification, the extruder designed for thermosetting resins is based on the existence of more than one piston compartment, where the reactive liquid resin is pushed by synchronized pistons, creating alternating flows of material converging in a single flow at the outlet of the extrusion head forming the extruded solid piece. The basis of this new hybrid extrusion technology, which combines the operability of the injection process with the functionality of an extrusion process, lies in the generation of a constant flow rate of resin, which curing reaction is controlled by the adjustable dosage of a catalyst system and the application of a temperature profile along the basic elements that configure the extruder (Figure 2). Figure 2. Basic elements of the thermosetting resin extruder designed by INDRESMAT An additional functionality of the thermosetting resin extruder is the possibility of coupling similar devices usually employed in the conventional extrusion of thermoplastics, which will allow the coating and lamination of other materials. - Boundaries and high-added value applications of the new technology The introduction on the market of the extrusion technology of thermosetting resins will not only bring advantages associated to the properties of the new materials to be extruded, but also will provide important process advantages. At the process level, the extrusion of thermosetting resins will allow the following results to be achieved:
  4. 4.  Fast processing rate.  High production capacity.  High energy efficiency.  Simplification and versatility of the extrusion process.  Low cost technology.  High product customization capability.  Reduced need for process additives. Advantages at the process level include the real-time modification of the resin formulation without the need for long stops to exchange and clean internal elements, as the entire machine can be cleaned with circulation of a catalyst-free resin, avoiding material losses since this can be recirculated to the feeding system. In addition, by modulation of the incoming flows of raw materials, the properties can be changed to obtain products with regular section lengths with different performance features by means of a programmed task. At product level, the introduction of thermosetting resins will provide the following main features to the extruded products:  High thermal resistance.  High chemical resistance.  High mechanical resistance.  High resistance to weathering.  High resistance to abrasion.  High durability. Thermosetting materials offer numerous advantages despite the current underdeveloped technology for continuous processing of resins. The higher cost, mainly due to the slow processing rates achieved for thermosetting resins manufacturing compared to thermoplastic materials, has been so far an obvious disadvantage in applications where technical requirements are not a must. However, the development of this new technology will represent a significant advance in the extruded plastics sector due to the high productivity and versatility of the extruder. In addition, taking in consideration the wide range of properties that can be obtained with the different thermosetting resins, this technology will allow the entrance of these products in different markets, which some examples are indicated below.  Applications in construction and building markets The high resistance to chemical agents, corrosion and weathering of resins in general, will allow the manufacturing of pipes and underground pipelines for liquids with a greater durability. In addition, in case of leakage due to small breaks or perforations, the pipe can be repaired in situ by sealing said leaks using the same resin which was used when manufactured and without the need for removing, discard and replace the entire length. Another application is the manufacture of pipes resistant to landslides or small earthquakes by combining rigid and flexible segments on a regular basis length since the extruder can modify the formulation in real time varying the incoming flows of the raw materials to achieve said properties. The foaming capacity of some of the resins also will enable the manufacture of very light pipes of large diameter for breathing or ventilation ducts applications.
  5. 5.  Applications in industrial markets The high thermal resistance of certain resins will allow the canalization and conduction of hot fluids, maintaining its structure in industrial applications that currently do not allow the use of thermoplastic materials. In addition, the high chemical resistance of these resins will allow the conduction of solvents, certain corrosive fluids and aggressive chemical agents that currently use non-plastic materials.  Applications in the transport, nautical and aeronautical markets The high chemical resistance and foaming capacity of some of the resins available on the market will allow the manufacture of light pipes and pipes resistant to oils, fuels and other chemical agents present at the engines areas or transportation of hydrocarbons.  Applications in the electric market The high temperature resistance of certain resins will allow the production of ducts and profiles with superior fire protection as these materials do not melt and maintain their structure at high temperatures. In addition, employing coating devices coupled to the extruder, the electrical wiring can be coated with flexible thermoset material to improve its insulation to external agents, enhancing the resistance to weathering and minimizing the risk of short circuits. - Market segments, product lifecycle and sustainability As any development that involves the creation of a new manufacturing technology, the technical difficulty in upscaling is a very important limiting factor for the access of the products to the different market segments. The construction is probably the market with the largest roadmap, which is represented in Figure 3 the main segments and sequence of access to them. Figure 3. Market segments in construction and building for extruded products
  6. 6. In addition to the technical difficulty in upscaling, for each segment and application there are regulatory considerations according to the sector that new materials must be adjusted to satisfy a level of compliance during the lifecycle of the product. The sustainability of materials from manufacturing to elimination, once its life cycle has been exhausted, is another main consideration. In this regard, recycling is an important part in any material development that has been foreseen and the phases are schematically represented in Figure 4. Figure 4. Recycling process of thermoset products The thermoset materials can be reused by reincorporation in the form of microparticles. This is does not represent any additional problem because these materials do not melt during the micronization process, avoiding the use of cryogenization as it happens in many thermoplastics. The incorporation of microparticles will not only reintroduce the recycled thermosets into the manufacturing process at end-of-life, but also fillers from other materials of any origin, recycled or not. In this regard, microparticles do not show problems in compatibility since these fillers are embedded inside the crosslinked matrix without migration capacity. This is an important advantage for these materials because it allows incorporating high contents of fillers, reducing the cost of the product and also providing reinforcement to the polymer matrix. Taking advantage of this particularity, the sustainability of the products is more evident if one takes into account that, in addition to the incorporation of a large amount of recycled fillers, there are resins which raw materials contain a very high percentage of Carbon from renewable sources. Also related to the sustainability of the products, it is important to mention that in the extrusion process of thermosetting resins, the use of process additives is practically unnecessary. Many of process additives are usually toxic and able to migrate to the environment, so this technology can also avoid problems of contamination.
  7. 7. - Conclusions There is now a very favorable situation for the introduction of new materials and the development of new applications in different segments of the market for extruded products. Thermoset materials made from thermosetting resins will offer a wide range of exclusive properties, and this means a business opportunity in line with the current trend of replacing non-plastic materials in applications with high technical requirements. The reactive extrusion technology designed by INDRESMAT will make possible to massively produce rigid, flexible, compact, foamed, reinforced or non-reinforced thermoset plastic products for low to high value-added applications. These products will show unique properties of thermal resistance, chemical resistance and mechanical resistance that gives them the large variety of thermosetting resins available today. The combination of efficiency and productivity of the reactive extrusion technology, added to the versatility in properties of thermosetting resins, will undoubtedly be of interest to the plastic manufacturer since it will allow the customization of a wide range of extrusion products according to customer requirements. In addition, due to the simple configuration of the extruder, plastic manufacturers will not need a large infrastructure of machinery and accessory elements related with the process and type of material, situation that nowadays is very common in thermoplastics manufacturing companies. References (1) Plastics Europe Market Research Group; Plastics – The Facts 2016 (2,3) Gonçalves, M. C., & Margarido, F; Materials for Construction and Civil Engineering: Science, Processing and Design. Springer 2015 (4) Plasticsinsight.com; Top 10 Countries for Production of Rigid PVC Plastic Pipe, Tube, and Hoses in Europe, 2016 (5) Thomas Washington, Amar Carmody; Contraction of Europe’s PVC market 2015 (6) Edward R. Jex; Patent US4240997 (7) Kjell Sand; Patent EP0494222B1 (8) Pablo R. Outón; Utility model ES1181409 Additional info Pablo R. Outón MSc. High Specialization in Plastics and Rubbers Founder at INDRESMAT (Barcelona) www.linkedin.com/in/pablo-r-outón info@indresmat.com www.indresmat.com Original source Rev. Plastic. Modern. ISSN: 0034-8708, volume: 725 http://www.revistaplasticosmodernos.es/notabibliografica/2924

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