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February 1, 2024

Explore the Various Heater Styles Used in Extruders

Discover the diverse styles of heaters employed in extruders, catering to different needs such as cast aluminum, high-temperature cast bronze, ceramic, and cartridge styles. Many cast aluminum barrel heaters incorporate cooling mechanisms (water or air) and heating elements. The choice of heater style is often dictated by the specific polymer and production process, impacting the quality of the final product. Despite heaters having a typical lifespan measured in years, frequent failures may occur, making routine monitoring and preventive maintenance crucial for sustaining optimal extruder performance.

Common Heater Issues on Production Machines Unveiled

Identify prevalent issues with barrel heaters on production machines to ensure seamless operations.

One typical problem customers observe is malfunctioning, where one-half of the heater is nonfunctional, resulting in only half of the designated heater power being applied in that zone. This leads to a prolonged heat-up time and potential quality issues with the melt.

Short Circuit:
Another frequent issue is a short circuit, causing the zone temperature to ‘run away,’ possibly exceeding the maximum allowable temperature. While newer extruders have safety circuits to prevent this, older equipment may lack this safeguard.

Faulty Cooling Circuit:
The third common issue involves a faulty cooling circuit, causing the heater zone to alternate between cooling and heating due to a stuck water valve or a continuously running blower.

Unraveling the Causes Behind Heater Issues

Neglecting heating and cooling issues stresses the heater, risking complete failure or shorting to ground. This, in turn, leads to performance and safety concerns. Ensuring precise control over barrel heater bands extends their lifespan and maintains process stability.

Impact on Production and Product Quality Unveiled

Understand the repercussions of faulty barrel heaters on production and product quality. These issues increase the time required to heat the barrel, adding load to the extruder drive train and exerting unwanted stress on the motor, gearbox, VFD, and screws. Product quality suffers due to lower-than-normal melt temperatures, resulting in poor surface finishes, unmelts, shrinkage, and uneven wall distribution.

Practical Solutions for Heater-Related Challenges

Implement regular preventive maintenance practices to monitor melt temperature, heater amp draw, and PID performance for maximum extruder performance. By replacing or repairing the defective components, you can address identified issues such as faulty heaters, stuck water valves, or malfunctioning cooling fans. Regularly inspecting the barrel heaters for proper seating. This is critical that the barrel heater be tight against the barrel to maximize surface coverage. Any gaps between the heater and the barrel can present problems. This proactive approach ensures that your extruder remains in top running condition.


Much like other components in your extruder, barrel heaters need consistent care and service to optimize the efficiency at which they run. This care is invaluable in lowering the total cost of ownership and maximizing the lifetime of your extruder. Working with an OEM ensures all aspects of the heater are properly specified, such as inner diameter, location of connectors, and heater kW.

Parts Discount

Reach out to our parts team using the link below. Use the subject line SPOTLIGHT ON BARREL HEATERS to receive a discount on the barrel heaters you need to run your extruder. The discount is valid for the month of February.

Contact our Parts Team now

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