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Understanding the Different Types of Extruder Screws and Their Advantages

by:TENGDA     2023-06-17

Understanding the Different Types of Extruder Screws and Their Advantages

When it comes to processing plastic materials, extrusion is one of the most popular methods. Extrusion involves heating and melting the plastic material and then pushing it through a die to create a specific shape or size. In the extrusion process, one crucial component is the extruder screw. An extruder screw is responsible for conveying the plastic material, melting and dispersing the plastic, and building up pressure to push the material through the die. There are different types of extruder screws, each with their unique advantages. In this article, well discuss the different types of extruder screws and their advantages.

1. Single Screw Extruders

Single screw extruders are the most commonly used extruders in the plastics industry. They have a single screw that rotates within a heated barrel. The properties of single screw extruders include a high output rate, low maintenance requirements, and lower purchase costs compared to their multi-screw extruder counterparts. Single screw extruders are also more versatile and can be used to process various types of plastics.

When selecting a single screw extruder, its essential to consider the pitch of the screw and its length. Shorter screws work better for materials that require less melting, while longer screws are ideal for materials that require more melting. For example, if youre processing a softer plastic material like low-density polyethylene, a shorter screw may work best. But for harder plastics, like polycarbonates or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), youll need a longer screw.

2. Twin Screw Extruders

Twin screw extruders have two screws that rotate within a heated barrel. These extruders are typically more expensive than single screw extruders but offer a high level of control and versatility. Depending on the process and materials, twin screw extruders can produce a higher output rate, provide better mixing, and can be used for a broader range of materials.

Twin screw extruders can be categorized into two types: co-rotating and counter-rotating. Co-rotating twin screw extruders have screws that rotate in the same direction, while counter-rotating twin screw extruders have screws that rotate in opposite directions. Co-rotating twin screw extruders are typically used for processing highly viscous materials, while counter-rotating twin screw extruders are used for compounding and adding fillers or reinforcing agents to the plastic.

3. Conical Twin Screw Extruders

Conical twin screw extruders have two screws that rotate within a cone-shaped barrel. As the name suggests, these extruders are conical in shape, with a smaller diameter at the feeding end which gradually widens towards the discharging end. They are used to process rigid PVC and have a high output rate. Conical twin screw extruders are also known for their ease of maintenance. When selecting a conical twin screw extruder, its essential to consider the taper angle and the length of the barrel. Smaller taper angles are suitable for processing materials that require more pressure, while larger taper angles work better for processing materials that require less pressure.

4. Barrier Screws

Barrier screws are typically used in single screw extruders. These screws are designed with a 'barrier' section that creates a pressure increase in the barrel. This pressure increase helps to increase the melting rate of the plastic, resulting in a higher output rate. Barrier screws are also beneficial in reducing the mixing of plastic at higher screw speeds, allowing for better processing of delicate materials like fluoropolymers. When choosing a barrier screw, its essential to consider the length of the barrier section and the number of mixing zones.

5. Vent Screws

Vent screws are used in both single screw and twin screw extruders and work by relieving pressure from the plastic as it passes through the extruder. Vent screws are typically used for processing moisture-sensitive materials like nylon, which release volatile by-products when heated. The vent screw allows for the removal of these by-products, resulting in a higher quality product. Vent screws come in two types: open and closed. Open vent screws allow for the release of volatile by-products to the atmosphere. In contrast, a closed vent screw collects the by-products and discharges them through a collection system.


Extruder screws are a critical component in the extrusion process. Selecting the right type of extruder screw can significantly improve the output rate, processing quality, and versatility of the extruder. As discussed, the different types of extruder screws each have their unique advantages and are used for specific applications. When selecting an extruder screw, consider the type of plastic material youll be using, the required output rate, and the maintenance requirements. By carefully considering these factors, you can select an extruder screw that meets your specific needs.

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