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WAVE FOAMER

New perspectives for particle foam moulded parts

Kurtz WAVE FOAMER relies on a steam-free process for processing particle foam moulded parts
Kurtz WAVE FOAMER relies on a steam-free process for processing particle foam moulded parts

Over a good six decades, little has changed in the processing of particle foams. In view of the increasingly littered seas and harmful microplastics, there was a need for action and a new process was required. The Kurtz engineers therefore developed a revolutionary automatic moulding machine that reprocesses a remarkably high proportion of recycled material. At the end of October, the world premiere based on sustainable criteria was presented at K 2019.

The WAVE FOAMER opens up completely new possibilities for particle foam processing, where from the multifunctional beads of EPS, EPP, EPE & Co. insulation panels, packaging and automotive components are produced – such as seat elements, bumper elements and roof beams. Unlike the previous energy-intensive bead-welding process, which required steam and complex installations, the WAVE FOAMER leaves well-trodden paths and takes a completely different approach that is steam-free and energy-efficient. Experts and those outside the industry alike immediately recognise the potential associated with the new technology – it saves up to 90 percent of energy, provides clean energy for the process and conserves resources.

Electromagnetic waves instead of steam

Kurtz GmbH has invested several years to develop a stable process based on electromagnetic waves – thanks to the steam-free process the WAVE FOAMER removes previous limitations and opens up completely new production and product worlds. Even engineering plastics with high temperature resistance can be processed with the new Kurtz automatic moulding machine. The functional principle: The foam beads are heated by high voltage excitation in the form of radio waves. An alternating dielectric field causes polar molecule chains to oscillate – the resulting friction generates heat. Polar additives are added to work with a non-polar material. The technology is suitable for new materials with process temperatures of up to 250 °C, which corresponds to a vapour pressure of 40 bar. Unlike the steam process, welding takes place from the inside to the outside. This also makes it possible to process very compact compressions and recyclates. High-quality moulded parts with a 70 percent recycled content can already be reliably produced today. Apart from energy savings and a higher proportion of recycled material, the WAVE FOAMER delivers moulded parts with better welding, higher dimensional stability and greater tensile strength.

 

Welding of material beads from inside to outside for perfect core welding
Welding of material beads from inside to outside for perfect core welding
High voltage of up to 10,000 V at a frequency of 27.12 MHz stimulates polymer chains to vibrate so that foam beads heat up from the inside to the outside
High voltage of up to 10,000 V at a frequency of 27.12 MHz stimulates polymer chains to vibrate so that foam beads heat up from the inside to the outside

Huge popularity at K 2019

“Following the in-house development of the WAVE FOAMER to technical maturity, we have developed laboratory machines that are already in use at raw material manufacturers and scientific institutes and are working on new materials that can be processed with our process,” explains Kurtz Managing Director Uwe Rothaug. The live demonstrations of the WAVE FOAMER at the Kurtz booth, which were held four times a day, were really stormed by the visitors, and the interest in the new technology was huge. “This shows that we have recognized the signs of the times and are once again pointing our industry in the right direction in the form of a lighthouse technology,” said Kurtz Managing Director Uwe Rothaug in retrospect of the successful appearance in Düsseldorf.


New products in sight

EPS processing is already possible today with the WAVE FOAMER, and soon EPP will become feasible – biodegradable plastics can then be processed, such as BASF´s ecovio©, which consists of the biodegradable plastic ecoflex® and polylactic acid (PLA) obtained from renewable, sugar-based raw materials.

 

With the new Kurtz process, processors can save up to 90% energy compared with the steam process – depending on the number of moulded parts, the return on investment can be calculated quickly. The technology is also worthwhile for new installations, as no complex steam installation with water treatment or separate cooling water installations are required for the operation of the plant. Thanks to their light weight and excellent mechanical properties, numerous applications for materials as PET and polycarbonate are within easy reach, for example in electromobility or aviation – the process also brilliantly meets the high requirements for fire protection and temperature resistance.

Process highlights WAVE FOAMER:

  • No complex media installation necessary
  • Steam generation system and cooling tower installation with water basin no longer required
  • Moulded parts made of up to 100% recycled material
  • Energy saving up to 90%
  • Homogeneous welding of the moulded part from the inside to the outside for optimum part quality
  • Particularly suitable for high temperatures and high material densities
 
 
 

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