Why do black specks occur?

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black specks

Black specks are one of the most stressful defects for injection moulding or extrusion technicians, as they may or may not have a pattern of behaviour.

We know, without a doubt, that these black dots indicate a certain level of degraded material within the system.

It is crucial to thoroughly analyze the causes that generate this degradation process to be able to evaluate the best procedure for its correction.

We can narrow down the origin of black specks to the following causes:

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  1. Polymer overheating

Under normal conditions, with the parameters of temperature, injection speed, pressure, etc., well set up, an overheating of the polymer should not be expected.

Usually, the overheating process occurs on start-ups after a long stop.

The issue becomes more complicated when working with sensitive materials or plastics with very different process temperatures in the same machine.

Plastic is a poor conductor of heat. To reach the process temperature during preheating, at start-up, the layer of plastic close to the cylinder walls is heated well above the inner layers, favouring material degradation.

  1. High shear rates 

Due to significant variations in back pressure and screw speed, a considerable increase in shear can be generated with consequent degradation of the polymer chains.

  1. Residence time 

An increase in the residence time of the polymer within the system is likely to generate, among other problems, the presence of black spots.

  1. Material degradation by negative flow inside the barrel.

A faulty behaviour of the check valve can cause, among other things, negative flow zones with the consequent increase in residence time and subsequent degradation of the polymer.

  1. Degradation of additives

Some additives are very sensitive to temperature; Unlike the blackheads produced by the aforementioned causes, these occur spontaneously and can be controlled relatively easily by reducing the temperature curve or sometimes by changing the provider.

Why does the presence of blackheads increase by 60% on Mondays?

It is not uncommon for black dots or spots to appear after equipment has been off for the weekend.

The Cause

Overheating of the polymer during start-up

When the machine stops, despite emptying the screw, the material remains attached to the screw and to the barrel jacket.

During preheating, at start-up, the degradation process of the material begins, which will subsequently generate black spots

The solution:

There are two ways to do it

  1. Subsequent cleaning

There are good purging products on the market whose formulation incorporates abrasive charges to deal with the problem of the black points once generated.

Depending on the severity of the problem, they will be more effective or not.

  1. Preventive cleaning

Knowing the origin of the problem, the solution is quite simple: just clean it before the machine stops and leave a virgin material with high resistance in the spindle to degradation, such as HDPE or PP.

Why wait until you have defective parts to use a purging compound when we can eliminate this situation from the root?

The most significant gain is achieved by integrating the use of a Purge compound in the production processes within routine preventive maintenance of the machine.

Today, most of the technicians involved in the production of plastics are increasingly aware of the importance of using a good purging compound for changes of colour or material and to avoid the appearance of black spots and assume it as a strategic and competitive advantage that translates into less stress for them and an increase in the productivity of the Company.

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