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All-in-one actuator upgrades extrusion press

Aug. 9, 2012
An air cylinder with integrated controls speeds installation and cuts energy costs.

Metal extrusion may seem like an old-style industrial operation, but Presezzi Extrusion SpA, headquartered near Milan, Italy, has elevated it to a high-tech enterprise. The company designs, builds, and commissions presses for extruding aluminum, steel, copper, and brass.

Integrated valve and actuator controls helped Presezzi Extrusion simplify installation, reduce energy consumption, save space, and improve aesthetics of its presses.

Presezzi’s employees have built a global business by exploiting the latest engineering software and design technologies. Equally important, however, is their passion for giving end users cutting-edge custom equipment – and today that means taking advantage of the most cost-effective and efficient components available. That led them to the integrated valve and actuator from Norgren.

With the same footprint as a standard actuator, the modular motion-control unit combines a pneumatic cylinder, pilot and control valves, position sensors, and speed regulators in a single integrated unit. This eliminates the excess tubing and remote valve islands typical of pneumatic operations.
According to Stefano Andretta, product sales champion with Norgren SpA, Vimercate, Italy, Presezzi’s engineers were researching actuators that were needed for the machines’ extrusion handling modules. The actuators, arrayed vertically and horizontally, are used to control arms that hold metal bars coming out of the press and move them to the next extrusion operation. The cylinders have 50-mm bore diameters with stroke lengths of 70, 80, or 100 mm, depending on the machine size and extrusion dimensions.

When Norgren’s Alberto Rosa explained how the integrated valve and actuator would streamline the press manufacturing process for Presezzi and significantly improve the handling application for its customers, Presezzi’s engineering team immediately recognized the value of this design and began installing early prototypes in 2009. Norgren has since standardized the product, named it the IVAC, and introduced it worldwide in cylinder bore sizes ranging from 32 to 100 mm with standard stroke lengths from 25 to 1000 mm.

The IVAC combines a cylinder, pilot and control valves, position sensors, and speed regulators in a single integrated unit — all within the same footprint as a conventional cylinder.

What appealed most to Presezzi was that the valve and actuator unit required only one electrical and one pneumatic connection. This made installing the actuator on their extrusion presses much simpler and reduced installation time and cost, explains Andretta. Presezzi also appreciated that the integrated unit reduced the number of components to specify, order, stock, and install.

In addition, the IVAC reduces the energy costs of compressed air by up to 50%. Because the IVAC uses less tubing and fewer fittings – and no tubing at all between the valves and cylinders – this minimizes the dead volume in the lines, which reduces energy consumption and cost per stroke. Response times are faster as well.

Eliminating tubing, fittings, and mufflers and integrating the valve and flow controls also saves space, improves aesthetics, and simplifies cleaning.
The IVAC comes in an industrial version, and a cleanline version with the switches and valves inside a smooth casing to meet hygienic washdown requirements.

Supplied in standard ISO/VDMA footprints, the IVAC can be used as a retrofit or installed in existing designs with no mechanical changes. Four different valve configurations offer flexibility to the machine builder and make the unit suitable for a wide range of applications.

Information for this article was provided by Norgren, Littleton, Colo. For more information on the IVAC, click here. For more information on Presezzi Extrusion, click here.

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