LabtexFour place Poly Rig
Victrex plc, a manufacturer of high performance polyaryletherketones (PAEK), recently completed its move into a new Technology Centre in Thornton-Cleveleys. The new building features two floors of state-of-the-art chemistry and materials science labs. As part of the move, the opportunity was taken to upgrade many items of lab equipment including its small-scale polymerisation facilities.
Victrex says it identified areas for improvement in its high temperature polymer production at the R&D scale. The main considerations were said to be safety and reduced manual handling, increased utilisation of available fume cupboard space, ease of set up and operation and reproducible/enhanced datalogging to mimic the operations on plant.
Labtex, a provider of specialist laboratory and process chemistry equipment solutions, designed a four place ‘Poly Rig’ to satisfy these requirements.
The system, which is available in manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic configuration, can incorporate single or multiple reaction blocks. Labtex states each stainless steel block uses 1600 watts of heating to achieve a maximum temperature of 350oC within the borosilicate glass reaction vessel. The heating block and contents temperature, stirrer speed and torque and gas evolution are all controlled and datalogged. The stirrers are raised and lowered mechanically and the vessels are tilted for emptying with an insulated handle. A locking system and the counterweighted design of the vessels ensures that they cannot be emptied accidentally.
The four place rig is constructed using extruded aluminium and stainless framework, stainless steel heating blocks, borosilicate glass vessels and PTFE accessories. As standard it measures 1000 mm x 1600 mm x 555 mm (HWD) to fit into the available fume cupboards. The system is controlled by HiTec Zang laboratory automation software.
Glynn Harrington, New Process Team Leader at Victrex Polymer Solutions, commented: “The new Labtex Poly Rig system has improved efficiency and safety. There is no heat transfer fluid required and no need to handle extremely hot glassware directly. The system set up is fully reproducible and the enhanced datalogging is invaluable as we strive to develop our PAEK products.”
Richard Hepplestone, Labtex Sales Director, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to work with Victrex on this project. Projects like this are becoming an important part of our business and we are particularly pleased that Victrex have ordered a second system, confirming their satisfaction with the first.”