"Designing for the Future” - that’s how Aerolite Extrusion Co. defines its aluminum extrusion business. Established in 1953, the company is a full service custom extruder of residential windows and other consumer products, as well as automotive extrusions. Realizing that it’s impossible to design for the future with outdated production equipment, Aerolite has always tried to remain on the cutting edge of technology in its manufacturing and finishing plants. When its coating operation, Youngstown, Ohio-based EPCO Finishing, was asked to be the first to install a new electric reciprocator from ITW Ransburg (a 21' TurboDisk), the company carefully researched the technology and then readily agreed.
“We studied a lot of systems before committing to ITW Ransburg’s pilot program,” explained Plant Manager Gerry Emery. “We had to replace a 40-year-old hydraulic system, and we wanted to get away from the hydraulic oil, seal replacement and other maintenance issues, while keeping better control on our coating operations. This new system promised to do all that for us.”
Streamlined OperationsThe new electric reciprocator was designed to be an effective alternative to hydraulic reciprocators for applications demanding critical regulation in blended pattern applications. It operates at a machine speed of 60 in./sec, and can be configured to deliver stroke lengths from 5 to 32 ft in 1-ft increments.
ITW’s Pete Norris has worked with EPCO since the early 1990s, providing the hydraulic reciprocators and manual painting controls. “ITW created a fast, responsive, smooth electric reciprocator,” Norris said. “We asked EPCO to test one of the systems for us, just to see how it would work for their operations.”
EPCO initially agreed to replace one of its manual reciprocators, and the plant set aside five days for the installation. “Installation only took one and one-half days to complete, and EPCO was up and running,” said Norris. “Within three weeks they had ordered a second electric reciprocator.” EPCO also installed a profile coater and paint process station (PPS), which have greatly streamlined their overall operations.
The profile coater reads bar codes from the extruded parts and then programs the operation down the line. According to Norris, the system can change the flow rates of the paint, the stroke length of the reciprocator or the turbine speed of the disk almost immediately. Automatic solvent flushes and color load changeovers typically can take as little as one minute. Leaving just a one-minute gap on the line can accommodate the changeover.
“All the information of every painted part is collected, analyzed and catalogued, and can be used when bidding new jobs, developing emission reports and even in employee training. The system assures consistency in every part, and it also helps with managing paint inventory,” said Norris.
Improved Quality and Reduced CostsThe move from hydraulic to electric reciprocators has been a great decision, according to Emery, resulting in better paint coverage and lower maintenance costs. In fact, the system EPCO ultimately installed allows for a wide range of controls and efficiencies that can significantly improve aluminum extrusion coating.
“The reciprocators have worked out really well for us,” Emery said. “This field study was a very good idea.”
For more information about electric reciprocator systems, contact ITW Ransburg at 800.909.6886 or visit www.itw-ransburg.com. For more information about EPCO, visit www.aeroext.com.