Eliminate Waste and Reduce Costs by Running a Reclaim Extruder

by Shelly Coleman, Marketing and Sales Coordinator

If you are in the foam business, then you know that your material spend is one of the largest cost drivers in your plant.  For efficiency and cost reduction, manufacturers are motivated to try to achieve zero waste in the production process. Getting the most production out of your resin purchases requires the appropriate use and management of reclaim.  Reclaim is defined as any material that has been processed at least once.  This could be short shots, scrap, extra material, or material from a non-conforming product.

Reclaim can be used in two forms and they have differing methods and outcomes.  

The two types of reclaim are:

  • Fluff:  Material that has been through a production cycle and is ground up into small pieces. For most plants, this option is not viable because the fluff would need to be sorted by density instead of color.  Different density fluff could not be stored in the same silo because they do not feed into extruders at the same rate.  As the amount of fluff entering the extruder varies it would affect the finished products Basis Weight, gauge, color, and density.  
  • Reclaimed resin:  A reclaim extruder is required for this process. Fluff is fed into the reclaim extruder and then heated. The fluff melts while the gas is removed. The molten material is extruded through a pelletizer that makes small pellets similar to virgin resin. Reclaimed resin will have a similar density to virgin resin, so it can be compounded with virgin resin and used for any sheet.

Some benefits to operating a reclaim line in your plant include:

  • Almost 99% of your scrap can be reused allowing significant cost savings on materials.
  • While using reclaimed resin less colorant is needed providing a further reduction in costs.
  • Scrap is readily available and can be converted into reclaimed resin fairly quickly.
  • Using reclaimed resin can save on resources and also make your operation more environmentally friendly.  In today’s business climate any way we can reduce waste and carbon footprint will be advantageous.
  • The addition of reclaim produces better foam quality than running 100% virgin resin.

Running a reclaim line does require some technical expertise and customization for your specific plant operations, but once in place, the reclaim line can offer significant cost savings.  For more information regarding reclaim extrusion, contact us for a consultation.

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