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24.01.2023  |  98x
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4B Nylathane - next generation industrial elevator buckets

4B’s Nylathane buckets offer the opportunity to replace traditional steel and ductile iron elevator buckets with a similarly durable but lighter weight option
Industrial elevator bucket designs have not changed significantly since the 1950s. However, the introduction of Nylathane, by 4B Group, brings a new technology to the industry. Nylathane is a unique polymer that combines Nylon 6 with an elastomer. It has the durability of nylon with the slick release surfaces associated with polyurethane. This combination makes it ideal for bucket elevators in the cement industry where impact tolerance and discharge efficiency of sticky or powdery products are required to minimize downtime and maintain production efficiency. Prior to its use in elevator buckets, Nylathane has been field proven in even more demanding applications such as track pads for tractors.

Iron or steel elevator buckets can be prone to deformation or breakage due to impact from foreign objects or operational issues. Once deformed their capacity and efficiency is diminished. Deformed elevator buckets pose a risk to further damaging the bucket elevator system as they move through the system. Heavy iron or steel elevator buckets are difficult to manage when being repaired or replaced. Their weight is also a drain on system efficiency due to the amount of energy required to move the heavy bucket assembly. Should a bucket become detached from the elevator belt or chain, it is unforgiving in the collateral damage that it can cause to the system. Some metals in certain applications are
prone to become brittle over time. Sticky powders have a tendency to collect in metal elevator buckets, reducing their capacity and clogging vent/drainage holes. Nylathane elevator buckets alleviate these problematic issues.

The characteristic advantages of Nylathane buckets are:

  • Up to 75% lighter than steel or iron
  • Outstanding wear resistance
  • Superior impact strength
  • Self-cleaning surfaces
  • Static Dissipative (<108 Ohms)
  • Non-sparking & non-corroding

The practical advantages of Nylathane buckets are:

  • Resists impact and retains original shape while metal buckets deform and lose efficiency
  • Reduced weight, thereby reducing overall Amp load
  • Lighter buckets means less wear and tear on other components
  • Lighter buckets are easier and safer to install and handle
  • Lighter weight and better impact absorption means that Nylathane buckets are less likely to pull through the belt or chain than heavier steel buckets
  • Compatible with both belt and chain elevators
  • Ideal for handling wet or sticky materials
  • Static dissipative for use with combustible dust

For bucket elevators conveying sticky products, such as slag, the flexibility and low coefficient of friction of NylathaneTM help prevent product build up and loss in capacity.

In one case study performed by 4B Group in the potash industry, the Nylathane buckets exhibited better impact resistance due to their flexibility than solid abrasion resistant (AR) steel buckets. Deposits of salt based marine evaporate minerals occur naturally throughout the world. These minerals are high in potassium, calcium and magnesium along with other valuable trace elements. Often deep mined, they are used in the agricultural industry and industrial applications. The mineral is very hard, abrasive and hygroscopic making it difficult to handle efficiently. Once mined the mineral is crushed, graded, blended and stored, often utilizing expensive wear resistant steels in the process. Initially the user installed solid abrasion resistant (AR) steel elevator buckets which were expensive, and due to their rigidity and the aggressive hygroscopic nature of the mineral, caused loss of production along with frequent and expensive downtime. Industrial injection moulded nylon elevator buckets were tried and although they improved the discharge of the material from the buckets they wore out in a few months. The Nylathane buckets deformed or flexed rather than exhibiting brittle micro-breaks in the material. 4B Group also added AR steel wear lips to the Nylathane buckets for additional wear resistance, thereby delivering a hybrid elevator bucket with the best characteristics for the application. The 4B engineers devised a best of both worlds scenario by using the unique benefits of Nylathane affording better impact resistance due to flexibility (rather than brittle breaks on a micro level) and self cleaning properties due to the low coefficient of friction of buckets. This in addition to the abrasion resistant steel wearband, originally developed for the glass cullet industry, gave excellent wear and impact resistance.

The results were:

  • Improved tonnage through the plant
  • Extended belt life
  • Extended bucket life
  • Reduction in downtime
  • Reduction in planned maintenance
  • Savings on electricity costs
  • Improved manual handling
  • Better health and safety compliance

In another industrial application, moving glass cullet, the replacement of heavy steel buckets with the lighter Nylathane buckets provided a nearly 80% reduction in startup current. Saving both energy and electrical component costs. The installation was also quicker and safer with the lighter Nylathane buckets taking just one day to install compared to the usual three days with the steel.

The customer had been using 3mm to 4mm thick fabricated steel buckets supported by a steel fixing plate fitted with M16 bolts. The total unloaded steel bucket weight was 20kg and they were experiencing belt breakages and long downtime due to the constant repairs and maintenance required on the elevator.

4B replaced the heavy fabricated steel elevator buckets with lighter Nylathane elevator buckets weighing just 3kg. The original steel buckets weighed 3.25 tons in total whereas the Nylathane buckets only weighted 0.48 tons. Weighing nearly 2.8 tons lighter than the original bucket system was a huge improvement. The system was more reliable with fewer breakages and less downtime.

This new Nylathane substitution gave the customer:

  • Extended belt life
  • Reduction in downtime
  • Reduction in planned maintenance
  • Savings on electricity costs
  • Better health and safety compliance

Nylathane buckets from 4B Group are available in the traditional industrial styles of AA, AC and MF.

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