Polymer solutions for safe and residue-free food production

Designers and operators of food production lines must adhere to strict legislation 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. 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 is materials which effectively prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and mould. German manufacturer igus has recently presented some of these newly developed polymer solutions.

Making energy chains detectable
Machine malfunctions or damage can never be completely excluded, even in the most modern of production lines. In order to guarantee that foreign particles can be picked up 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 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 the durable, corrosion-free and versatile polymer energy chains in their machines and lines without concern. The material is available on request for energy chains in the E2/000 and E4.1 series.

Rotary table bearings with FDA-conform polymer
Another new product for the food sector is from the iglidur PRT family of lubricant-free polymer rotary table bearings. The bearing of the PRT 01 design is made of corrosion-free stainless steel. The sliding elements between inner and outer ring are made of the iglidur material 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. The food-conforming polymer rotary table bearings are available ready to fit – initially in size 200 (inner diameter 200mm) and in all other sizes in the future.

Anti-microbial sheathing material
The igus chainflex range of cables, designed especially for use in moving applications, is being extended by a special anti-microbial series ("CFSpecial") for food-related applications. The only visible difference between the highly bending-resistant jacket material and other cables is its blue colour. 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 the energy chain. 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.