Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FLOWFREE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 516225
Funded under: FP6-SME

Improving plastics production

A European alliance among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academia worked to develop a plastic extrusion method that was energy saving and cost effective. Partners are hopeful that industrial application of this technique will not only prove beneficial for Europe’s economy, but will also be more environmentally friendly compared to current technology.
Improving plastics production
Plastic parts and products are manufactured through extrusion and co-extrusion processes that involve the melting of plastic beads into a continuous profile. The viscous nature of polymer, however, slows down the manufacturing rate at normal processing temperatures. If the temperature is increased, degradation of material can occur resulting in loss of mechanical properties.

Overcoming these obstacles and improving the output rates of plastic extrusion were the objectives of the EU-funded Freeflow project. Previous work by project partners had shown that compressed carbon dioxide (CO2) was capable of enhancing the production of solid extrudate with reduced viscosity, and at faster manufacturing rates and reduced temperature.

The next step was to demonstrate the commercial viability of the process by developing a prototype extruder that would allow the method to be adapted to industrial scale. Various prototype systems were tested and parameters were optimized, and after scaling up they were installed at four industrial locations to enable testing of the process within a production environment.

The Freeflow patented technology offered enhanced solid extrusion rates, with the associated benefits of reduced melt viscosity. Its commercial exploitation will re-launch the plastics industry in Europe by significantly improving its global competitiveness.

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