May 12, 2015

12/05/2015: Extrusion as an innovation driver
by Dieter Preim, Brabender®, Germany

First published in Milling and Grain, March 2015

Extruder products rank among the pioneering opportunities for product innovation in the food sector with promising opportunities on the market. This is why practically relevant equipping with extrusion equipment is a fixed constituent of the “toolbox” that is required for product developers in the food industry. New developments in snack products, breakfast cereals, flat breads, sweets, pet food and other special products can be prepared on a laboratory scale using this modern key technology.

Brabender® provides suitable instruments for experimental trials of potential product lines with extrudates in a wide range of shapes, colours and flavours. They are compact and can be put to versatile use in innovative food laboratories. They make it possible for modern foods to be developed under realistic process conditions. This means that ongoing production is not impacted, which saves money but is still consistently quality oriented.

Laboratory extruder as sensible alternative for practical applications

There are few procedures with as much potential for completely redesigning a product matrix. In order to develop innovative food textures and structures, the parameters of pressure, temperature, and shear can be varied during extrusion without changing the final product. Continuous operation in a closed system combines complex production steps into a constant, continuous production process. If product developers have to experiment on extruders during live operations in order to do this, this can lead easily to operational disruptions. This is why laboratory extruders are a sensible alternative for everyone involved in the development and testing of new processes and products – regardless of existing traditional processes, and with potential prospects for creating something completely new.

Six arguments speak in favour of practical product development with laboratory extruders rather than experimental interventions in the production process:

  • You get to know new processes, and are able to test textures and sensory characteristics before trials have to be conducted on a production scale
  • You can vary your application ideas in a wide variety of ways: in terms of raw materials, composition, machine or product
  • You require significantly less material to carry out your trials, and hardly any product waste occurs
  • You don’t have to worry about impacting your current quality management system
  • You can establish methods for measuring your quality from raw material to end product in advance, in order to be in a position to react to quality variations in a better way at a later date
  • You can easily achieve a return on investment with an appropriate philosophy of innovation within your company
Triple extrusion expertise from Brabender®
The corporate group has many years of global experience with extruders and the practical deployment thereof: Thanks to the transfer of technology between plastics processing, the pharmaceutical industry and the food sector, Brabender® can provide extrusion expertise in three essential fields of application.
The use of measuring extruder systems in food laboratories provides reliable results for the fine tuning of optimal production conditions and to providing constantly high product quality. As is to be expected from Brabender®, the extruder technology that is provided is suitable for a wide variety of uses, especially in the field of grain products, and can be networked with other ‘classical’ quality measuring processes.

Single-screw and twin-screw extruders or the modular expansion make it possible to adapt the processing conditions to the many different of products and tasks in the best possible way, customised to suit your operations:

  • Quality control and analysis of raw materials
  • Product development and recipe optimisation
  • Testing of the extrusion properties of different materials
  • Research and optimisation of processing characteristics
  • Binding of active ingredients and aromatic substances to a carrier material, such as in snacks
  • Measurement of rheological properties of material combinations
  • Extrusion of degradable products
  • Product manufacturing on a laboratory scale
At the same time, studies with laboratory extruders have a range of technical process advantages over other procedures such as the practicallyoriented measurement of extrusion conditions with small sample volumes, rapid changes in trial conditions, and simple operation and cleaning.

Three equipment lines that are specially oriented to food laboratory requirements are introduced here as examples of our extensive product range: 

Entry-level single-screw extruders
The Brabender® KE 19 is an “entry level” model for measurement extrusion: a robust, autonomously operating single-screw extruder, also known as a single-shaft extruder, that is ideal for laboratories and technical institutions. Based on a broad selection of screws and tools, this machine is the ideal solution for

  • Developing new materials and products, including viscosity measurement
  • Testing processing behaviour during recipe development and product monitoring in the incoming and outgoing goods areas
  • Quality control during production and throughout processes, with production of a company specific quality profile for the consistent manufacture of products that comply with specifications
  • Optimisation of production conditions, full machine capacity utilisation, and minimisation of waste
A comprehensive range of die heads is also available that makes it possible for a wide range of product ideas to be developed and tested.
The performance features of this compact device are rounded off by powerful and user-friendly software packages that work on any version of Windows, the storage of operating and evaluation parameters in a database, and the capability of exporting the data into the usual Office programs. As well as operating standalone, this machine can also be optionally integrated into local data networks in PC-controlled mode.

Twin-screw extruders for sophisticated applications

Twin-screw extruders are the number one choice for sophisticated, complex applications. The Brabender® TSE product range is particularly attractive because of its wide range of applications and maximum flexibility. The screw and cylinder construction kits that are available in different sizes are designed in such a way that all process stages (feeding, conveying, plasticising, dispersing, reacting, degassing) can be carried out in the best possible way. The combination of several work steps into one continuously operating extruder turns these twin-screw extruders into modern inline compounders. The additional equipment that is required such as measurement and control systems, dosing systems and downstream facilities are also available, making it possible to build up entire modular extrusion systems that are tailored exactly to individual user requirements.

As well as the TSE 20/40 D and the co-rotating TSE 25/16 - 48 D twin-screw extruders that have proven themselves time and time again in practice, the new Lab-Compounder KETSE 12/36 D is now available, a miniature-scale twin-screw extruder with engineering that originates from material development and process simulations in the plastics industry. The combination of the scale down of the production machine, the comprehensive adaptation capability to any processing task and the ease of operation of the system are the reason for its distinction as an outstanding laboratory measuring device.
The processing unit in the TSE 20/40 D and the TSE 12/36 D consists of a hinged horizontal cylinder. This allows individual preparation steps to be visually assessed, and easy screw removal and quick cylinder cleaning are also possible.

Furthermore, various mechanical material tests can subsequently be conducted on the extrudate. In this respect, online diagrams provide a quick overview of measurement data and evaluation results, even while measurement is in progress.

The test data is stored in a database and can be processed using the usual Office programs, and can then be integrated into your own reports.

Brabender® and its modular device designs show a practicable way toward practical implementation of extrusion technology in the food industry – one step at a time: The laboratory professionals develop creative innovation expertise, and companies safeguard their future with affordable investments.


Read the magazine HERE.

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine GFMT
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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