Extrusion training on your desktop.
If you can't spare the time and expense to bring your workers to the training, then bring the training to the workers. Years after becoming an accepted practice in injection molding, computer-based interactive training has now come to extrusion. As a result, operators and others can learn about an extruder, its controls, and how to troubleshoot problems at their own pace in front of a desktop PC.
Two well-known names in plastics training - Paulson Training Programs Inc. of Chester, Conn., and Rauwendaal Extrusion Engineering (REE) of Los Altos Hills, Calif. - recently introduced CD-ROM-based interactive training programs for extrusion. Both programs walk users through a series of lessons covering subjects such as basic extrusion terminology and components; instruments and controls; start-up, operating, and shutdown procedures; and troubleshooting. Paulson concentrates on production operations, while Rauwendaal provides more instruction on the engineering basics of the extrusion process.
Both training packages present materials in full-motion, 2-D and 3-D animation. Both run in the point-and-dick Windows operating system. Both also use Iprax Courseworks version 3.2.7 as the operating platform, which requires a separate $500 purchase. Both can run on any 486-based PC. Paulson recommends a Pentium 100 MHz or higher with 16 MB of RAM and 50 MB of available disk space.
The two programs contain far more similarities than differences. Paulson is banking on its 20+ years in the training business as its competitive edge. REE says its advantage lies in its single-minded focus on extrusion. The company is owned by well-known extrusion consultant Chris Rauwendaal.
TRAIN EXTRUSION OPERATORS
Paulson's package, called Extruder Operation and Control-Single Screw, consists of nine lessons. The first six lessons have been commercially available since last August and are priced at $5995. The final three lessons are expected to be ready for shipment this month. They cost $3000. The entire lesson plan delivers about 12 hours of training.
The Paulson program includes a customization feature that lets users of the package modify the lessons to reflect the specific products, equipment, and procedures of their particular plants.
BASIC PROCESS ENGINEERING
Rauwendaal's six-lesson plan, called Interactive Training Extrusion (ITX), is in the demo phase. Besides lessons, ITX comes with simulation modules called Extrude that give users an understanding, of process parameters such as shear rate, solids-conveying rate, melting rate, drag-flow rate, and pressure-flow rate. Users can apply this information to analyze actual processing operations and make sophisticated calculations without struggling through complex equations.
Rauwendaal's program can be purchased directly from REE or through Hanser-Gardner, a technical publisher in Cincinnati.