The cell size used in Ecocell is usually about 100 microns, which gives it an advantage over endothermic foaming agents. The large bubbles created when using regular chemical foaming agents have a negative impact on the product’s appearance, printability, and physical properties. Products made with Ecocell look smoother, more opaque, and retain their physical properties better.
Kafrit has recently expanded by acquiring the American firm Polyfil Inc. Kafrit is a leading manufacturer of concentrates and compounds for the plastics industry, with a workforce of more than 400 employees. Founded in 1973 in Israel, it has been offering quality solutions in the field of additives and concentrates for more than 44 years, alongside technical support and advanced R&D capabilities. The company grows and expands around the world mainly through the acquisition of various companies. Today it has subsidiaries in China, USA, Canada, and Germany.
With the acquisition of the American company, Kafrit also acquired a unique foaming technology called Ecocell. This is a patented technology that produces microscopic air bubbles in the polymer during the final product manufacturing process. The foaming technology is based on a combination of several additives that undergo compounding with a polymer base. When the concentrate is heated above 200 °C during the final product production, it releases a small amount of carbon dioxide that creates an air pocket or foam cell in the polymer. The foam cell diameter is 125 microns and even smaller. At this size, these foam cells are invisible to the naked eye. With Ecocell it is possible to reduce the density, and thus, resin consumption by up to 35% using conventional manufacturing technologies and over 50% using special manufacturing technologies.
Advantages of Ecocell foaming technology over standard chemical foaming agents
Formula: The ingredients used in Ecocell are different from those used in conventional endothermic and exothermic foaming agents. As a result, the by-products are different and fewer water molecules are formed upon foaming agent activation, and the pH is neutral.
Cell size: The cell size of Ecocell is typically about 100 microns, which gives it an advantage over endothermic foaming agents. The larger cells produced by regular chemical foaming agents have a negative impact on the product’s appearance, printability, and physical properties. Products manufactured using Ecocell look smoother, more opaque and retain their physical properties better (figure 1).
Activation: Ecocell has only one activation point whereas endothermic foaming agents have two. As mentioned, Ecocell’s foaming process starts at a temperature of 200 °C, a temperature that corresponds to the processing temperature of the polymers it is intended to be used with. Normal endothermic foaming agents usually have two activation points at 160 °C and 202 °C. The first point usually causes premature expansion of the material, loss of foaming gas, large cells, and even cell collapse.
Additional benefits of using Ecocell
Using Ecocell foaming technology can reduce material consumption, reduce density and, consequently, reduce product weight and cooling time, increase output through shorter cycle times, and reduce energy consumption. Other benefits are reducing voids within the material, increasing product opacity, and decreasing pigment or dye usage. Ecocell gives a pearlescent look to extruded or blow-molded products. It also reduces the viscosity of the melted plastic and increases its flowability.
Applications of Ecocell foaming technology
- Art boards for printing
- Blow molded parts for the automotive industry
- Blown or cast films
- Cable insulation
- Decorative ribbons
- Extruded boards
- Liners or gaskets
- Nucleation agent for physically foamed boards for packaging
- Extruded profiles
- Thermoforming products
How to use Ecocell foaming technology?
The foaming agent comes as a concentrate and is used at a rate of 1% -2.5%. Using lesser amounts will cause uneven foaming, while higher amounts will cause excessive foaming, creating voids in the product and poor appearance of the final product. The foaming agent can be fed into the material with a gravimetric or volumetric feeder such as in the normal use of a dye or any other granular additive, or mixed with the material itself prior to processing. Vacuum conveying a mix of raw material and Ecocell over long distances is not recommended as separation of the materials will likely occur because of density differences.
Ecocell can be used in various manufacturing technologies such as extrusion of boards, films, injection or blow molding. Each method has its own unique conditions in terms of temperature and processing conditions and, of course, they depend on the polymer to be foamed. The technology is available in a wide variety of polymers such as PE, PP, PS, PLA, PMMA, and PC.
For further information:
Hagit On, firstname.lastname@example.org, 052-8105690