Taking Care of ‘Angel Hair’ in the Plastics Pellets Industry

Gus Carrington

Gus Carrington About The Author

Jul 13, 2021

As manufacturers of ingredient handling systems, AZO keeps its ears to the ground about frustrations our customers have with their ingredients. From your general questions regarding conveying equipment to specific issues like reducing product smearing, sooner or later, something seems to always interrupt even well-thought-out ingredient handling processes.

Case and point

We all love ingredients, but when filters become clogged (or other maintenance issues arise) it may be time to figure out how to convey such ingredients in a more effective way. In fact, our expertise and conversations with plastic pellet manufacturers tell us that a specific issue is pretty prevalent in the world of plastic pre-compounding. As part of our last blog post related to convey line elbows, we mentioned there was an AZO solution to “angel hair” buildup within systems. This “angel hair,” if you aren’t familiar with the term, builds up when pre-compounded pellets hit the side of an elbow. 

“Strings” of plastic are often created as a result of this impact. If you find yourself facing this “angel hair” and said “hair” is clogging your filters (introducing production bottlenecks), it might interest you to talk to one of our representatives about a specialized kit we offer. For now, we’ll give you the run-down of our AZO-specific angel hair remover in this blog post.

The angel hair remover fits processes that meet these stipulations

“Angel hair” itself represents a targeted problem specific to the plastics industry, so our specific solution does apply to the following stipulations:

  • You manufacture pre-compounded plastic pellets specifically 
  • You use long elbow sweeps to convey your pellets 
  • You are conveying in a dilute stage
  • Those long elbow sweeps allow for pellets to hit the side of the elbow, eventually creating “strings” of plastic that, again, clog up filters 
  • You currently use an AZO system (or plan to)
  • You are currently using a vacuum conveying system (or plan to)

The kit does only work with AZO equipment, so if you are experiencing this problem but don’t use an AZO system, you may be out of luck for simple solutions to “angel hair” buildup. Typically, those that make pellets so as to use them in car bumpers, for example, benefit from this solution more than those that just make pellets.  

How the angel hair remover works

The AZO “angel hair” capture-kit can be placed before a receiver to capture excess “hair.” 

Essentially, these triangular plates catch any “hair” flowing through the receiver while pellets are heavy enough to bounce around and pass right through it. As more vacuum air flow is applied than pressure, the weight characteristics of the materials inside determine where they travel. Pellets (as stated) fall through the receiver, while the “hair” caught by the triangular plates flies upward and out into a fines container (or “Type KWF” filter). This is all dictated by the airflow.

Much like how rocks and feathers behave differently when faced with a strong summer breeze, the reverse flow of the air within an AZO angel hair remover will lead the pellets vs. the hair into separate baskets.

Adding this angel hair remover doesn’t add downtime

If managed correctly, adding an angel hair remover also won’t lead to any extra downtime as well. A manufacturer could run efficiently while the hair remover operates as a basket can be quickly switched over as new baskets are loaded in. The fines are removed from the initial basket, the receiver moves from left to right to disengage it, and then a clean basket can be placed directly into the receiver.

The only labor that is actually put into this process is separating the filters. There aren’t any major additional steps in the process. There’s no addition of any extra receivers and the process does not affect the performance of the overall system. That’s just the way the angel hair remover is designed.

When AZO revealed the angel hair remover at the K Show in Germany, AZO poly sales engineer Dave Pippert said the device was in fact a “showstopper” that brought crowds to the AZO booth. Here’s what he had to say about the snowball of issues that it tackles and takes care of:

“The real problem with angel hair is how it affects maintenance. It clogs your filters up and then because you have clogged filters all the time, you’ve got to go put PM systems in to change these filters out. It just creates a big maintenance nightmare.”

“Our angel hair remover is a real showstopper. People love it! We had it at the K Show in Germany, so I talked about Angel hair removers for about two and a half weeks. Every day.

If you have an AZO system and you have an angel hair problem, it would be very easy to buy one of these. If you’re putting together a new system and you think you’re going to have an angel hair problem, this is a low-cost addition and a long-term solution to angel hair build-up.”

“Once your excess ‘angel hair’ is collected and disposed of, you as a manufacturer can get back to pre-compounding your pellets without fear that they will scrape against convey line elbows and ultimately clog up your filters. Though this solves just one of many problems that can arise during bulk material handling, AZO aims to stay ever vigilant about the concerns both our clients and material handlers of various industries face. 

AZO has more than seven decades of experience in handling raw materials and shaping ingredient automation to the benefit of various industries related to bulk material handling. Feel free to contact our sales team for any questions on how to help your plant and processes run smoothly. We also offer a free downloadable guide to answer a multitude of conveying queries you might have. 

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