In recent years, the European Commission has placed special focus on technologies that provide instruments to accelerate the deployment of new products. Advanced polymer materials are fundamentally cross-cutting and underpin other technologies. One of the biggest challenges in this perspective is to shape a critical mass of new expertise in this specialised field. Recognising the need for training and knowledge exchange, the opportunity was taken to initiate the project CO-EXIN (Technological and design aspects of extrusion and injection moulding of thermoplastic polymer composites and nanocomposites). With EU financial support, a series of joint research activities, training sessions and workshops were organised to transfer knowledge from leading experts to young researchers. The research work carried out by the CO-EXIN project team included determining the impact of design changes in screw-plasticising systems. In addition, changes of extrusion parameters on properties of the obtained products were tested. Specifically, the researchers studied the extrusion conditions of polymer composites with a polypropylene matrix, reinforced with various amounts of other materials. Several training sessions were carried out during the four-year lifetime of the project on processing machines with conventional and unconventional plasticising systems, fitted with screw and barrel. These courses included the various elements involved in intensive mixing and shearing as well as their impact on the quality of the polymer blends being prepared. Selected research results were presented during the many thematic workshops that were held at each university participating in the project. The target audience included manufacturers and users to whom it is important to know the impact of the choice of fillers and other additives on the properties of the obtained polymer products. A number of innovative solutions were filed as patent applications, such as the utilisation of polyethylene terephthalate waste. Some of the project results were also awarded diplomas and medals at various international exhibitions. CO-EXIN has shaped a critical mass of young researchers required to power innovation in processing advanced polymer materials.
Polymer processing, extrusion, injection moulding, thermoplastic, plasticising