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Minger counts on Sikora’s inspection and sorting system

Сase studies
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Bruno Ofner, CEO of Minger Kunststofftechnik AG

Minger Kunststofftechnik AG is a specialist for professional reprocessing of thermoplastic polymers. The company is especially renown in the area of technical high-performance polymers and is one of the leading reprocessors of fluoroplastic worldwide. Since 2018, the family owned company located in Appenzell/Switzerland has been using the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED, an online inspection and sorting system from SIKORA, for recycling and thus ensures the highest material purity.

For the production and processing of polymers, the highest purity of the materials is essential and a crucial characteristic for the quality of the final product. The requirements on purity are accordingly high, especially for sophisticated materials which, for example, are used in the cable, medical, aerospace and food industries. For over 30 years, the company Minger has been active in the recycling business and produces plastic granulates as customized compound or as clean and pure regranulate, which is reprocessed as a service, respectively, as undisclosed recipe. At Minger, they sort, clean, shred, ground, dust, granulate and compound – always with the demand to supply a pure regranulate that is practically equivalent to new material. At the same time, the company relies on a sustainable recycling concept for an optimal material cycle.

The application of innovative technology in the reproducing lines to ensure the highest quality and process optimization is a matter of course for the Swiss manufacturer. Since this year, the company has been using the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED from SIKORA for online inspection and sorting of plastic material. "For our technical polymers and high-performance polymers – such as fluoroplastic, PEEK, polyamide, polyethylene or polypropylene – this quality approach was relevant for supplying first-class material", says Bruno Ofner, CEO of Minger Kunststofftechnik AG.

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Process data with image gallery of contaminated pellets is clearly displayed at the monitor and evaluated

According to Ofner, there are several methods for material sorting on the market. The PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED convinced, however, on grounds of its future-oriented measuring principle and, above all, due to sorted, pure material. "Worldwide, we are the first company that uses this technology for recycling", says Ofner.

During the production of raw or recycled granulate, the plastic material can be contaminated by black spots, foreign particles or fine metal abrasion. These impurities are eliminated by the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED. The inspection and sorting system combines X-ray and optical technologies and detects contamination inside the granulate as well as on its surface. Thus, transparent, diffuse and colored materials are reliably inspected for purity to 100 %. Contaminated granulates are detected and automatically sorted out. The result of the purity testing is significant because, in the extreme case, unusable material can be made usable again. "The material does not contain foreign particles and the quality is improved up to 100 %", explains Ofner and adds "the PURITY SCANNER ADVANCED is currently the most accurate sorting equipment available on the market. With the optical sorting systems used so far, generally only up to 96 % purity can be guaranteed. Then, however, impurities remain undetected in the pellet.

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By using the inspection and sorting system, the quality of the material will be improved by 100 % cleaness; left: pure material after sorting, right: contaminated material before sorting

The SIKORA device is combined with an intelligent processor system, which analyzes and visualizes the sorting. For Minger, especially the statistical evaluations of the detected contamination sorted by number, size and frequency as well as an image gallery of contaminated granulates, which were detected by the optical cameras and X-ray camera, are of importance. All information is automatically saved and available in Excel format as well as image file. Also recorded is data such as the possible duration of the order, material type, throughput and rejection rate. This way, a full traceability is possible after a project has been completed. "We use the production data as reference for future orders. Furthermore, we forward the information as a final report to our customer, who receives absolute technical transparency about his product and the production process", explains Ofner.

Customers appreciate Minger's quality standard and know that sorting technology is a core element in the production process in order to ensure premium plastics. This strategy has a positive impact on all stages of the process chain. "By supplying clean, evenly reprocessed regranulates, we are supporting an automatic and smooth production process of plastic products", explains Ofner. Furthermore, Minger enables a sustainable material cycle by using innovative sorting technology from SIKORA. "Impurities are eliminated, the processed material can be reused and waste reduced", says Ofner. Hence, regranulates from Minger are nowadays a competitive alternative to new material, providing economic benefits whilst also protecting the environment.

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