Elastic compounds under the microscope

No reliable result without an exact compound: for the optimal transport of fibres into the machines, our laboratories in Münster rely on extensive testing, research and development of elastomers.

At our Münster production site, everything revolves around elastomers. Many factors play an important role for their use in spinning machines in order to ensure the smooth running of production without disruptions - under the most varied conditions. For customers to be able to produce an optimal yarn result, the aprons and cots must fulfil high quality standards.

In order to achieve this, the testing and developmment labs first check the individual raw materials and elastomer compounds before the vulcanisation process begins. The lab technicians apply various testing procedures for thsi purpose: hardness testing, colour measurement, rebound elongation, testing of deformation under pressure as well as testing of the tensile strength and dispersion quality. Only at this point is it still possible to eliminate any weak points and optimise the composition. As soon as the compounds are vulcanised, it is no longer possible to change anything and the product would have to be disposed of.

Lab technician Olaf Neumann detects even the smallest defects, staring with the quality of the core raw materials: "Rubber, in particular, can cause problems. As the largest constituent substance in the compounds, we must pay attention to the exact quality here above alle else." As rubber can influence the degree of hardness of the elastomer, this raw material must be of especially good quality and must correspond to the specifications (e.g. Mooney viscosity). "The softer the final elastomer compound, the better the yarn quality later!"

But the labs are not the only place where quality assurance is carried out. The QA department in production also tests with its own testing tools during the individual process steps. "In the R&D and application labs, among other measures, the finished aprons are tested by means of random sampling," explains Product and Application Manager Claudia Timp. This includes the testing of dimensions, thread position, the ratio of the layers as well as surface quality and structure. The friction properties of the inner and outer layer, tear resistance and stretching as well as the torque with the apron running in the drafting system without the influence of fibres must also be assessed in the series of tests. Newly developed products or modifications also undergo an extensive series of tests. But before this stage, meticulous work and research is first done in the R&D lab. Interview with Head of Development Holger Janßen: 

Holger Janßen

Our vision: to manufacture an "intelligent elastic"

Insight: The testing and development labs in Münster are unique. What distinguishes them?

H.J.: We move between two worlds. On the one hand we can measure properties such as tensile strength, rebound elongation, colour andabrasion resistance using elastomer technology.  On the other hand, we meet customer demands for good results with regard to yarn quality and service life of the components. This combination of research into the best formulation and achieving the desired features distinguishes us. The goal is to keep extending the service life of the products without the yarn quality changing.

Insight: Describe your research work into new elastomer compounds.

H.J.: We experiment with the compounds and add new raw materials in order to continually improve the measured elastomer properties. It is about developing the best formulation so that the customer receives a final product of the highest quality and durability. Our cots can be regarded as the car tires of a spinning machine: they ensure the optimal transport of the yarn.

Insight: What trends are you seeing and what are you already working on?

H.J.: The focus is definitely on the long service life of the products combined with the best yarn result. With our AccoSmart product range we have already made a start. The sandwich cots combine a soft inner layer with a harder outer layer. Thanks to the harder layer, there is less wear on the cots and the service life is lengthened. The soft inner layer ensures good formation and offers a large attachment surface for the fibres, which guarantees the best yarn quality. The first step has therefore already been taken, but we are continuing to develop further.

Insight: What vision do you have for elastomers?

H.J.: We are already researching the manufacture of an "intelligent elastic", signifying a great leap forward in yarn production. However, I cannot reveal more at this point.

 

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This article, which appeared in the 02 2020 edition of our "Insight" customer magazine, is available in four languages. Here you can also access the entire magazine.

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