Food for thought when selecting plastics
By Elisenda Falco, European Segment Leader
The food industry is one of the most strongly legislated industries. Standards and regulations cover just about every facet of the food lifecycle – from the planting, growing and nurturing of foodstuffs, through processing and packaging, right up to when they end up on the consumer's plate.
One area that is particularly heavily legislated is the use of materials in the food chain; specifically their composition, what they are being made into and, just as important, how they are manufactured. Of particular interest is the potential for cross contamination, where pieces of the material somehow find their way into the foodstuff. As well as discussing ways to prevent this from happening, standards also exist for the subsequent detection of these instances.
It is with these issues in mind that DuPont has launched two new grades of its DuPont™ Delrin® medium-viscosity Acetal copolymer, one of which (FG400MTD BLA079) is metal detectable and the other (FG400XRD NC010), which is X-ray detectable—addressing the food industry's two primary detection methods. Both grades are compliant with multiple, region-specific regulations for the food industry, including relevant FDA standards and 10/2011 and 2023/2006 (GMP) in the EU.
Applications where food-contact compliance and detectability are required include: food processing equipment components; material handling equipment, such as conveyor chains and hoppers; food-manipulation tools, such as cutters, shovels, scrapers; and forms and molds for chocolate and other foodstuffs.
In these applications, the new grades will offer food processors multiple benefits. First, they will be able to replace parts typically made from metal, thanks to Delrin® bridging the gap between metals and ordinary plastics, with its unique combination of creep resistance, strength, stiffness, toughness, low wear and low friction. This can result in ergonomic improvements thanks to lighter equipment and quieter systems due to lower noise emissions compared to metal equivalents.
Second, they can achieve peace of mind knowing that a 3-mm cube of Delrin® can typically be detected using standard inspection systems. This will help to reduce the risk of complaints through particle contamination, maintaining and supporting consumer and brand equity.
Delrin® offers other potential savings, including: cost and maintenance savings based on improved design and functional integration; reduced energy consumption due to lighter components; and longer replacement intervals based on excellent wear/friction properties. Delrin® typically does not require additional lubrication, resulting in silent and durable mechanisms, and offers good, clean aesthetics, leading to a cleaner and friendlier working environment. It is also highly resistant to cleaning agents and offers very good behavior under thermal shock.
One company that has already seen the benefits of one of these new grades is Mure & Peyrot, a world leader in the development and supply of knives, blades and accessories for the manufacture and encapsulation of windshields, and the French leader for cutting and deburring soft and hard plastics and for safety knives and industrial blades.
"We are only a small company," explains Bernard Peyrot, CEO, "but we have a very large global presence, selling our products into a wide variety of industries in over 80 countries." Indeed, Mure & Peyrot's customer list reads like a "Who's Who" of blue chip companies... from huge automotive suppliers, through home and healthcare product manufacturers, to some of the world's largest dairy and confectionery companies.
"We used to use a big supplier in Europe for the acetal resins that we use to mold our cutter and knife handles, but in the short time that we have been using the new Delrin® grade, its performance has convinced us to move exclusively to DuPont, and we are very happy with this relationship," Mr. Peyrot elaborates. "Our customers in the food industry are delighted with our cutter products that use the DuPont material; customers that include a huge US dairy product company and manufacturers of household brand names in both confectionery and healthcare products."
Mr. Peyrot also compliments Delrin® on the repeatability of its results. "With our old material, we were never really 100% confident that the materials would be detected, however, the new Delrin® grade seems to offer much more uniform dispersion of the filler and therefore much more uniform results; we have much more trust in its properties."
Mure & Peyrot
25 Rue Roger TOUTON,
BP 50120 33041 BORDEAUX CEDEX FRANCE