“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in our suffering” – Viktor Frankl
What is the most important attribute that a molder needs in order to successfully mold regrind? Raw material testing expertise? Processing knowledge? The latest injection molding equipment? The truth of the matter is that the most important attribute needed to successfully mold regrind is an organizational culture willing to deal with and continuously improve the multiple challenges that regrind plastic presents.
Regrind does not run like virgin material. Let me say it again for emphasis. Regrind does not run like virgin material. As a result, AGS Technology has set-up its business first and foremost as a processor of recycled materials. The “AGS Process” is a culmination of multiple skills sets that the owners and employees of AGS Technology have been improving every year. These disciplines include sourcing, size classification, conveying, de-dusting, metal removal, formulating, physical property testing, certifying, transporting, tool design, drying, in-line compounding, decoupled molding, inspection, and maintenance.
An excellent example of AGS Technology’s kaizen approach is injection molding machine screw design. Most custom injection molding companies use a general purpose screw design in their machines in order to process the widest range of plastic materials. From the very beginning, AGS Technology has always specified a proprietary mixing screw design. AGS’ proprietary screw design was based on years of experience extruding recycled plastics. This original design helped ensure that large regrind chunks were efficiently melted and then compounded with good distributive mixing during the screw retraction phase of the molding cycle. Over the last seventeen years, this design has served AGS Technology well when it comes to processing unfilled and filled grades of its Injectoblend™ line of recycled materials.
Despite its success, AGS has identified improvements to the AGS proprietary screw design. The explosive growth and use of long glass fiber has created larger, ongoing sources of plastic scrap that AGS Technology has qualified for use in many of its Injectoblend™ formulations. Long glass fiber is a great new source of recycled material to enhance tensile properties, but using this material has introduced a new challenge. The long glass strands have a tendency to bundle and are more difficult to break-up. When molding parts with a sub-gate, these glass bundles can block the opening causing short shots. As a result, more dispersive mixing is now required in order to effectively mold these parts.
Through extensive R&D efforts, AGS Technology has resolved the long glass fiber bundling issue and is already incorporating more dispersive mixing capability into its next generation screw design. In fact, this work has led AGS Technology to experiment with injection molding screw designs that will compound short glass fibers into unfilled materials using coupling agents and other additives. The AGS team has always recognized the fact that converting regrind is the lifeblood of the organization so incremental improvements in each discipline over time will enable it to maintain a competitive advantage now and well into the future.