Plastic can be used to manufacture products from packaging to aerospace. Manufacturers may use different methods to create and mold these products, but there will always be one constant — heat. If the heating solution is not efficient, productivity and quality will suffer, notes Clive Jones, managing director of thermal fluid specialist Global Heat Transfer.
Several factors should be consider when selecting a thermal fluid, Jones says. Molding processes, for example, require heat transfer oil with a broad temperature range to ensure effective heat transfer and maximum efficiency across production. The chemical composition of the fluid will also affect its suitability for the application.
Properly maintaining a heat transfer fluid is important to extending the fluid’s operating life. “If thermal fluid is left unattended for long periods of time, degradation may go unnoticed until it impacts production,” Jones said. “The degradation process can lead to the formation of carbon, a natural insulator that builds up in the system. This can lead to a lack of flow or the creation of hotspots, which can prevent the system from reaching and maintaining the temperatures needed — leading to quality problems with plastic products.”
Regular thermal fluid analysis can slow the degradation process and reduce the risk of unexplained drops in productivity. Taking quarterly samples of the fluid while the heat transfer system is hot and circulating gives manufacturers an accurate representation of fluid condition, Jones added. Tracking the analysis of each sample to look for trends enables manufacturers to understand what is happening in the system and allows them to intervene before degradation impacts production.
Global Heat Transfer offers advice on maintaining thermal fluids in its blog.