The client was a global leader in the medical device industry and was in need of updating and increasing the functionality of their medical tubing extrusion lines. They required three tubing spoolers that would operate by means of a closed loop tension control system, which would automatically maintain tension in the tubing between the extruder and the spool. Additionally, the machines needed to be capable of operating in a GMP manufacturing environment.
The main goal of the project was to design a system capable of spooling delicate microbore tubing at an extremely low tension set point. The machine also needed to be versatile enough to accommodate varying extrusion line speeds, tension set points and tubing outer diameters. Two spools were required, so that tubing could be switched to an empty spool on the fly, and the control system needed recipe functionality.
CKC Automation designed and built a custom tubing spooler that was able to accommodate over 100 different extrusions and their specific recipe parameters. Additionally, the machine is compatible with different sized spools, and spools can be switched out on the fly. The machine operates via closed loop tension control using a high accuracy tension meter to ensure tubing is not stretched or flattened during the spooling process. It can operate at line speeds in excess of 200 feet per minute and can accommodate a wide range of tubing sizes. The machine is also mobile and has a small footprint to allow it to be moved between extrusion lines and out of the way when not in use. The traverse system has the ability to automatically sense the spool edge and reverse direction, and to detect when a spool is full. Also, the system uses virtual gearing to traverse at the correct speed to evenly lay tubing, even as the spools speed up and slow down to maintain tubing tension.
The final machines increased the extrusion lines’ yield by accurately controlling tension to a set point, which enhanced the quality and repeatability of the process. The machines are easily adjustable and can operate under a variety of recipe parameters. CKC’s design met all of the client’s needs and has improved their ability to produce extruded microbore tubing.