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Sustainable nanoHVOF and nanoaxialPlasma coating solutions against wear problems of extrusion machines allowing an eco-efficient use of materials and the increase of recycling in the plastics industry

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - nanoHPcs (Sustainable nanoHVOF and nanoaxialPlasma coating solutions against wear problems of extrusion machines allowing an eco-efficient use of materials and the increase of recycling in the plastics industry)

Reporting period: 2018-03-01 to 2019-02-28

The nanoHPcs project addresses the urgent need to increase the share of plastic recycling in the EU. Global plastic production in 2014 amounted 311 million of tonnes (EU: ≈59 Mtonnes). Until today only 10 EU countries have banned landfilling of plastics waste. Since 31% of plastics waste in Europe – representing 8 Mtonnes – is still landfilled, much energy and processed raw material is lost instead of being recycled into new products. Apart from the general provisions in the EU Waste Framework Directive, no specific EU legislation addresses plastic waste in a strategic way. Some countries are nevertheless further forward, such as in Germany, where a share of recycled plastics is compulsory in some sectors (e.g. for the manufacturing of window profiles). Today, plastics and fibre-reinforced plastics have become the first material of use in many sectors (construction, automotive, aviation, etc.), being in many cases lighter, cheaper, more resistant and recyclable than metal. This highly affects the production equipment, as for plastics extrusion, machines must cope with increasing production amounts and requirements. Even more challenging is the extrusion of waste materials and of plastics aggregates with abrasive metal, ceramic, glass and wooden particles. Although an increasing number of companies in Europe are willing to improve their corporate sustainability, the challenge is to make recycled plastics as pricely attractive as non-recycled, raw plastics material. Also, since recycled plastic is more abrasive, plastics processing machines (e.g. extrusion machines) must not lose any performance and quality through incorporating the recycled material. Apart from through a more favourable legal framework and further public awareness raising, the recycling of plastic can be increased and facilitated at the very beginning of the value chain with the use of sustainable, smart technologies and materials in plastics production.


The goals of this innovation business project are to:
1) increase the eco-efficient use of materials in Europe by contributing to the re-use of plastics waste in the plastics extrusion industry;
2) add value to the plastics extrusion market by introducing the innovative solution that will improve productivity, production capacity and lifetime of machines
3) enable our target users to improve their competitiveness through better performance of extrusion machines and enhance their corporate sustainability by allowing the increase in use of recycled and sustainable plastics;
4) solve problems met by our users such as wear and corrosion, production waste, high O&M costs, difficulty of production with abrasive plastics compounds;
5) allow Thermico to gain a leading position in providing adapted coating solutions for the plastics extrusion market, opening the way to an extension to fast following markets such as injection moulding and foil production.
The first year of the project served to expand powder production at Thermico and to prepare a new coating of extruder units in the second year. The technical optimisation activities, being the extension of coating technology and completion of new section for a powder production, were completed on schedule.
Many extruder components, screws and cylinders could be field tested in critical applications. Based on the measurement results, critical areas could be worked out on the respective components. Thereby, the Thermico coating process could be progressively adapted and optimised in order to address the introduction of a series coating process.
The original concept to perform field tests via OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer, here: constructor of extrusion/ injection moulding machines) and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) companies has been proven and field tests could be set into motion to a considerable extent. Within the first year, the commercialisation strategy was further developed and many communication and dissemination activities were successfully carried out.
The project management has provided for the efficient and successful performance of the project and has taken over all the important tasks such as project monitoring (schedule and budget), management of administrative, contractual and legal aspects as well as communication with the EASME representatives.
The overall progress of the first year of the nanoHPcs project has contributed to the originally set overall objectives to a large extent.

The focus in the second year of nanoHPcs project was on the optimization and adaptation of the coating systems for extruders as a whole unit as well as for the individual components of the extruder. The developed coating systems were tested in the field to evaluate if they can reach the technical readiness level 9 (TRL9). Injection molding units were not scheduled for the field tests proposed in nanoHPcs project. Nevertheless, Thermico has realized the importance of this process for the eco-efficient use of plastic materials and, therefore, also included the coating and testing of the injection molding process units in its scope of work.
As a consequence of that, the number of coated individual parts was increased and reached about 209 screws and barrels, as well as 4 process units.

The original concept to perform field tests via OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer, here: constructor of extrusion/ injection moulding machines) and MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) companies has been proven and field tests could be set into motion to a considerable extent. Within the second year, the commercialisation strategy was further developed and many communication and dissemination activities were successfully carried out.
The project management has provided for the efficient and successful performance of the project and has taken over all the important tasks such as project monitoring (schedule and budget), management of administrative, contractual and legal aspects as well as communication with the EASME representatives.
The overall progress of the second year of the nanoHPcs project has contributed to the originally set overall objectives to a large extent.
Compared to conventional coating methods, nanoHPcs can enhance the share of plastics recycling in the industry by at least 10%, displaying a fantastic price-performance ratio, a reduction of more than 50% of production costs of critical components and of up to 70% of coating manufacturing and finish processing costs.
With help of the SME-Instrument, Thermico expects by 2023 a turnover of up to €40.2 million, a staff increase of 132 employees and a market share in its calculated addressable market of 15%. To guarantee a successful market introduction, Thermico will build strong references through numerous field tests at customers. Thermico could therefore acquire 4 launching customers: 1 OEM, 2 repairers and retailers of extruder components and 1 plastics producer. Introduction of the solution in the plastics extrusion market will occur in several steps: DACH countries, the EU and, later, North America and Asia.
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