Improving energy efficiency in thermoset plastic molding

Improving energy efficiency in thermoset plastic molding

Plastic molding is an energy-intense process, so finding ways to reduce energy consumption can be challenging. Ci-Dell has been on a 2-year mission to improve the energy-efficiency of its facility, thus reducing its environmental impact and cutting utility costs wherever possible.

Most of the energy savings has resulted from replacing older shop equipment with advanced, high-efficiency machines. This new equipment not only enhances quality and throughput, it reduces Ci-Dell’s reliance on the electrical grid. 

“By reducing our energy use, we’re lower our utility bill so we can contain our customers’ prices, even while the cost of everything else is skyrocketing,” said Ken Cihlar, Ci-Dell’s Director of Operations.

In addition to converting all its halogen shop lights to energy-saving LEDs, here are a few areas where Ci-Dell has made upgrades to reduce energy consumption:

Cooling system

The newly installed Thermal Care Central Chiller, which circulates water to all the molds to prevent overheating, features energy-saving dynamic refrigerant pressure control. The system continuously calculates the lowest allowable refrigerate pressure needed so the condenser doesn’t run harder than necessary. Variable-speed condenser fans run only when needed instead of continuously running. As a result, Ci-Dell can save an average of 15% in part-load total chiller energy use at a typical 65∞ F set point. 

Presses with servos

Ci-Dell has upgraded to new Yizumi high-end servo injection molding machines. Using data from the machine’s control system, the servo drive customizes motor speed to match what is needed for flow, speed and pressure. By reducing wasted energy draw, these presses can save 30-80% in electricity compared to conventional hydraulic presses.

Tool heating

For larger molds, Ci-Dell has switched four molds from electric cartridge heating to oil heating. Cartridge heating for a 15,000 lbs. tool needs 187,500 watts to heat and maintain a mold’s temperature, while oil heat requires only 48,000 watts.  The oil heating systems reduce the cost per kilowatt hour by approximately 75%.

Insulated loading dock

The wide variations in Wisconsin weather bring temperatures ranging from 100∞ F in the summer to 0∞ F in winter. An open loading dock door allows a lot of air to escape, putting undue pressure on the heating and cooling systems in the building. To reduce air from escaping, Ci-Dell has installed new Kelley Foamside Dock Shelter that seals around the trailer to prevent rain, snow and outside air from getting inside. Thereby, the HVAC system runs less frequently.

Reducing energy consumption is essential for companies like Ci-Dell that are responsible member of their communities. Not only does energy-savings reduce carbon footprint and extra draw on the power grid, it provides opportunities for a lower utility bill, which gets passed on to contain customer prices.

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