Designers and operators of food production lines must adhere to strict food hygiene regulations from the FDA to ensure consumers can buy food safely. This includes avoiding any kind of contamination such as from foreign particles or lubricants during production or transport process. The use of special materials can significantly reduce this risk. Detectable polymers, which can be picked up by metal detectors, are suitable for such applications. Lubricant-free polymer plain bearings and rolling bearings avoid contamination through oils and greases. If they are also made of FDA-conforming materials which are suitable for use with foods, their direct contact with food is safe. One particularly important area for perfectly hygienic food production are materials which effectively prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and mold. Igus recently presented some of these newly developed polymer solutions at Pack Expo 2013 Las Vegas.
Machine malfunctions or damage can never be completely eliminated, even in the most modern of production lines. In order to guarantee that foreign particles can be recognized quickly and reliably in food in such cases, the detectability of materials is vital. For this reason, Igus has developed a new polymer Energy Chain made of a detectable polymer. Even the tiniest fragments of the blue material can be detected by all standard metal detection systems, and can thus be removed automatically. Customers from the food and pharmaceuticals industries can use these durable, corrosion-free and versatile polymer Energy Chains in their machines and lines without concern.
Another new product for the food sector is from the iglide PRT family of lubricant-free polymer rotary table bearings. The PRT 01 design is made of corrosion-free stainless steel. The sliding elements between the inner and outer rings are made of iglide A180. As an FDA-conforming special polymer, A180 is suitable for contact with food and humidity. With their low-profile and rigid design, lubricant and maintenance-free polymer rotary table bearings can replace lubricated ball bearing rotary tables or rotary connections.
Chainflex continuous-flex cables from Igus are designed specifically for use in moving applications. The Chainflex line is being extended by a special anti-microbial series, CFSPECIAL, for food-related applications. The only visible difference between the highly flexible jacket material and other cables is its blue color. The trick is in the material composition – In contrast to many of the solutions available on the market, CFSPECIAL does not get its anti-bacterial characteristics through additional coating, which would wear off over time on account of the permanent movement in Energy Chain Systems. Instead, the jacket material itself has special additives, which are emitted over time and thus prevent the growth of microorganisms. The new material has successfully passed the test for anti-microbial activity and effectiveness in-line with ISO 22196 and JIS Z 2801 and achieved an R value ≥2 in the test.