Polymers and food: new possible structures

June 15, 2015

Polymers and food: new possible structures

As for plastics, the contact with drinking water and food has always been a very difficult field to enter as a main player.
However, the food processing chain offers interesting opportunities to replace conventional materials with thermoplastic compounds, thus ensuring not only innovative lines, design, and functionality, but also considerable savings in manufacturing costs.

Candidates for replacement are not only metals such as aluminum, steel and brass, but also some thermosetting resins that cannot be recycled at the end of their useful life. For polymers to successfully replace conventional materials, they need to meet certain requirements: besides having equal – or better – properties in terms of mechanical, thermal and chemical properties, compounds have to ensure maximum compatibility with food or drinking water they are designed to come into contact with. Finally, the most difficult challenge: overcoming the by now unjustified reluctance of the market, which has always erroneously considered plastics an economic and quite unreliable choice, typically associated with poor value products.

A historical leading company in the field of professional slicers, Manconi & C. srl in Sumirago (Varese, Italy), decided to address these challenges. For its Smarty machine line, the company has chosen to use the LATIGLOSS 66 H2 G/50 compound for the manufacture of a complete series of critical components that were previously made from aluminum and thermosetting resin.

The purpose of this operation is primarily bound to the need to lighten some parts without affecting structural strength, aesthetics, and suitability for contact with food, which is typical of metals.

The choice of the thermoplastic compound also allows the introduction of elements able to better withstand accidental impacts, which instead cause dents and scratches on metal. So the blade guard ring, the press arm, and the last slice device on the Smarty machines of the 300 series are made of LATIGLOSS.

The new solutions do not require any special precautions in terms of maintenance and cleaning.
Application needs are of course challenging: in addition to suitability for contact with food and cleaning products, an extremely high dimensional stability is required, especially for the last slice device and the blade guard ring, in which the cutting disc rotates a few millimeters from the safety guard.

The arm moving the last slice device has to offer maximum robustness as well as load and impact resistance. Finally, as all components are visible, an excellent appearance is also required.

The selected material is a 50% glass fiber reinforced PA66 based thermoplastic compound developed by LATI to offer the same performance and appearance as metal. LATIGLOSS product obtained the international NSF-51 certification for food contact, so it is the ideal metal replacement in applications intended for food and drinking water contact.
Based on the now numerous technical and commercial successes, the range of LATIGLOSS products is gaining more and more appreciation due to easy processing and use.
Based on its long-established business tradition and experience, LATI is committed to providing the best technical support in replacing brass, aluminum, and thermosetting resin products with technopolymers, thus offering real opportunities for cost reduction and increased competitiveness.

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