Extrusion: from pasta to plastic

Materials and Products

Extrusion is a versatile process used in various types of industries. Almost the entire processing of thermoplastic materials goes through this process. Centrocot has invested in two laboratory extruders to investigate the potential of this process with a view to recycling and circular economy.

What does spaghetti have in common with a plastic bag? The answer is not so intuitive. To solve this question, we need to take a step back and look at how they are made.

Many types of pasta and the vast majority of plastic products are created in a similar way: extrusion is used. This process essentially consists of forcing by compression the material, in its paste-like state, to pass through a profile which reproduces the external shape of the piece to be obtained. The difference between the production of pasta and plastic differs mainly in the processing temperature. Pasta is processed cold, while plastic material requires heating for optimal processing.

The extrusion of thermoplastic materials is also the basis of many processes, such as blow film or flat extrusion, which are used to extrude thin films or sheets in a continuous process. This method is also widely used in the textile industry for the production of continuous synthetic yarns (polyester, nylon, aramid etc.).

Much focus is placed on the use of extrusion for the reuse of thermoplastic polymeric materials at the end of their life. The process is thermo-mechanical, and does not involve the use of chemical solvents, lowering costs, increasing safety at work and avoiding any damage to the environment.

Centrocot has installed two new laboratory scale extruders for the new facility in Malpensa Fiere. They will be used with other machinery to explore the possibility of recovering End-of-Life textile materials. It is expected to be able to give more support to companies in the textile sector to better understand how to manage waste and scrap in the supply chain and how to trigger new business of Circular Economy.

For more info:

Francesco Dellino – Multisectoral Research and Innovation

Author: Francesco Dellino

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.