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More affordable flat-web gauging and control.

More Affordable Flat-Web Gauging and Control

A scaled-down, but reportedly high-performance flat-web extrusion gauging and control system has been developed by Measurex Corp., Cupertino, Calif. As reported last month (PT, Oct. '90, p. 94), the system is being marketed mainly through extrusion machinery OEM suppliers and is targeted for smaller cast-film and sheet producers. Until now, says Patrick O'Neill, marketing manager of the Measurex Industrial Systems Group, the perception of excessive complexity and cost have kept comprehensive gauging and control systems beyond the reach of smaller processors. The FasTrack Extrusion Measurement and Control System is designed to overcome those obstacles.


FasTrack is said to integrate key elements needed for extrusion control into one functional system that is easy to install, use, and maintain. Quick-disconnect devices are provided on all elements for easy installation.

The new system consists of hardware elements used in larger systems, as well as redesigned components. The scanner, which has been reconfigured with a brushless d-c drive and enclosed moving parts for clean operation, offers high-speed edge-to-edge measurement for tight product control. It supports either a Digitector III beta sensor that reads thickness and mass per unit area, or a noncontacting caliper sensor that provides direct measurement of sheet thickness independent of density and chemical composition.

Computer electronics are housed in a compact Computer Management Unit, which also provides an interface between the sensor and the operator console. Its floppy-disk drive loads the program initially and stores site-dependent parameters such as calibration, control tuning, and product recipes. An operations console provides interactive, color coded alphanumeric displays. Direct digital control loops are said to provide stability required for precise regulation of screw speed and line speed, and operating supervisory loops reduce product variations.

An Autoprofile Control Interface for automatic dies is available as an option. The control provides decoupling and compensates for interaction between die bolts, calculates nonlinear neck-in at the die, and calculates for nonuniform response characteristics, regardless of the product being run.


The software driving the system is newly issued and incorporates user-friendly features. A dedicated button on the membrane panel summons any video display. Setup and entry of product identification and recipe data are provided for product changes. Display graphs of any process input or variable can be called to the screen. Each variable can be plotted around its nominal value or in absolute units, and the sample rate is operator selectable.

Tuning and routine maintenance are designed to be done by on-site personnel without highly developed software skills. Displays are provided for control tuning, scanner setup, sensor calibration, and verification. Diagnostic displays provide troubleshooting information. An in-depth maintenance training guide is available to customers.


Measurex claims several advantages to processors by distributing the system through extrusion equipment OEMs. The customer purchases the system from the overall line supplier, who may also install the control system, ensuring compatibility and fast startup. Once the system is installed, Measurex will continue to work with the customer directly for long-term service and support. Reduced installation costs allow Measurex to discount the system to OEMs, resulting in savings to the processor. Although price will be determined by the line supplier, O'Neill estimates 25-33% savings over comparable systems with the same level of performance. He estimates that to mean around $120,000, if the system were priced separately. (CIRCLE 3)

PHOTO : Measurex's FasTrack system is claimed to offer cost-efective high-performance measurement, control, and operator interface capabilities for flat die extrusion lines. It will be available through extrusion line OEMs.
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Author:De Gaspari, John
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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