At its Customer Center in Lossburg, Germany, ARBURG regularly carries out processing tests on bio-based plastics, including the INZEA® product family distributed by Biesterfeld. The world-leading manufacturer of injection moulding machines found that the compostable PLA biopolymer compound can be used to produce high-quality parts with high process reliability and without the need for additional machine equipment. This makes INZEA® an excellent alternative to fossil-based materials.
INZEA® is a bio-based and fully biodegradable and compostable polymer in accordance with EN 13432. The product family is based on polylactic acid from renewable and non-genetically modified sources, which does not compete with the food chain. Some types also contain a proportion of starch. INZEA® is suitable for injection moulding, extrusion and thermoforming.
The product family can be used in a wide range of applications. It is suitable for food contact in accordance with Regulation (EU) 10/2011, particularly in the household segment, catering, packaging and agriculture. Typical applications for INZEA® include plastic bags, coffee capsules, bottles and boxes. The product family can also be used in many other short-lifespan applications as well as in 3D printing.
The processing test at ARBURG was based on the processing parameters specified in the product data sheet. During the test the screw geometry and process parameters were varied and the resulting effects on the quality of the parts were analysed. Parameters such as the cylinder and hot-runner temperature, dosing speed, back pressure and injection speed were investigated.
The results revealed that INZEA® achieved by far the best result in the materials test. Production on the basis of the parameters in the product data sheet was reported to be problem-free, resulting in moulded parts of the highest quality with a high degree of process reliability. There was no need for additional machine equipment. The effect of the moisture content was also analysed, and it was found that, although additional drying as specified in the product data sheet was not necessary, ample drying with a vacuum dryer resulted in even better part quality. Only extreme stresses such as hot runners with long flow channels had, as would be expected, a negative impact on part quality due to thermal damage. Additional comparisons with a fossil-based ABS confirmed that INZEA® offers an excellent alternative to fossil-derived materials.
"As a distributor, we bridge the gap between the plastics producer and the processing industry. We're very proud to be actively supporting our customers as they move towards greater sustainability," says Philip Malke, Product Manager Sustainable Polymer Solutions. "The INZEA® product family is an integral part of our range of solutions. It's great news that the tests performed by ARBURG confirm the positive feedback we receive from our customers."
"There is a growing interest in alternative plastics among our customers," says Bertram Stern, Sustainability Manager at ARBURG. "Depending on the application, bio-based plastics offer advantages in terms of resource efficiency and disposal. With respect to processing, we've demonstrated that our ALLROUNDER machines can be optimally adjusted to the required material-specific process parameters."
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