Show Report: Chillers, Vacuum & Compressed Air at the NPE 2018 Plastics Showcase

The NPE 2018 International Plastics Showcase was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, May 7-11. Setting all-time records, the Show attracted 2,180 exhibitors — including Chiller & Cooling Best Practices and Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazines! Over 1,200,000 square feet of exhibition space was used, breaking the all-time NPE record. Held once every three years, NPE 2018 registered attendance was 56,000.

The plastics industry is the 4th largest in the U.S. It’s a major user of all the technologies we cover including blowers, vacuum, chillers and compressed air system components. Compressed air pressure requirements vary significantly for the plastics industry. Below is a simplified attempt to list some of the applications in the plastics industry

Process Chillers in Plastics

  • Blown film
  • Extruders (supporting liquid ring vacuum pumps)
  • Injection molding
  • Blow molding

Vacuum/Pressure in Plastics*

  • Pellet conveying and drying
  • Extruder venting, cooling/drying and calibration of extruded products
  • Injection molding, thermoforming and vacuum bagging
  • Gluing plastic parts and plastic welding
  • Forming Expanded polystyrene

*Source: Gardner Denver brochure “Plastics Industry Vacuum & Pressure Products”

Compressed Air in Plastics

  • PET bottle blow molding: 510-590 psi, (35-40 bar)
  • PET bottle blow molding with lightweight plastics: 290-365 psi (20-25 bar)
  • PET bottle blow molding with custom intricate design: 650 psi (45 bar)
  • Rotational molds for plastic car parts or milk jugs: 100 psi (7 bar)
  • Bottle labeling (100 psi-7 bar) and drying with blow-off (1.3 to 3 psi)

This event is produced by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), formerly SPI. They claim to be the only organization supporting the entire plastics supply chain, representing nearly one million workers in this $404 billion U.S. industry. Since 1937, PLASTICS has been working to make its members and the industry more globally competitive while advancing recycling and sustainability.


Chiller Technology Focused on Plastics

Chase Cooling Systems™ had a large booth displaying their QBE Series (0.6 to 7 tons) and CWE Series (3 to 40 tons) fluid chillers. Both product lines offer an optional hot gas bypass valve for temperature-sensitive processes, which is very common in plastics. All the components are “state-of-the-market” using environmentally friendly refrigerants R407C or R410A and efficient hermetic refrigeration compressor technologies selected for optimal performance (reciprocating, scroll or rotary). This firm is based just outside Pittsburgh, PA. “We are excited to continue to grow in the plastics industry,” said Engineering Manager Phil Shaver. “We particularly see growth with blown film and extrusion applications.”

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