John Nebbia, Industry Manager
As food processing companies increase their requirements for high-speed packaging and low-cost equipment, igus®
a motion plastics company has developed and manufactured a new high performance polymer that is well suited to the expanding demands of the food and packaging industry. Based in Germany, igus is a global manufacturer of energy chain systems and maintenance-free polymer bearings. The company manufactures and distributes plastic plain bearings, spherical bearings, linear guides, cable carriers, and continuous-flex cables. Additionally, the organization is committed to exceeding client expectations while providing rapid and precise service using its revolutionary polymer materials. The name “Triboplastics” is used by igus to characterize its injection moulded polymers. They are tribologically optimized material compounds with low wear and long life that serve as the foundation for all of its products and systems.
As the food industry’s productivity requirements grow,so do the demands on machine elements. In order to meet market needs, igus has developed a new high-performance polymer explicitly designed for food production. The FDA and EU compliant iglide®
A250 is wear-resistant and can withstand speeds of up to 1m/s. The high-performance polymer is hence ideal for knife-edge rollers. Since the coefficient of friction has been reduced, the new iglide A250 rollers only require low drive power. The rollers do not require external lubrication, are dust-resistant, and are easy to clean.
Conveyor belts are guided even at high speeds through knife edge transitions with little installation space owing to the rollers. This ensures that the products are safely transferred from one conveyor to another. It is not only necessary to ensure safety in automated production processes, but all machine and system components must also meet hygiene and cleanliness standards. As a result, igus has created five knife edge roller materials for various application scenarios.
Aside from Knife edge rollers there are a variety of applications areas in food and beverage equipment where igus has provided successful maintenance free solutions for their customers. Such areas in bottling would include circle and inline filling lifters and guides, valves, capping mechanisms, bottle grippers, sanitization, labeling and inspection. When considering bearings for food and beverage the machines are often under the demands of elevated temperature, and high duty cycles. Ensuring the reliability of mechanisms necessitates long lasting plain bearing solutions that can withstand constant friction and heat. To address this need, igus has developed iglide AX500, which is wear-resistant for high temperature applications and also has ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) properties. When compared to stainless steel bearings, iglide AX500 plain bearings are not only maintenance-free, but they also cost and weigh less than the latter.
Lars Braun, the packaging industry manager at igus, recalls a case study where the company developed a solution for Krones AG, which uses the Variopac Pro to process and pack cans and glass bottles. “We knew right away that we wanted to develop a solution with Krones. Even though our iglide high-performance polymers were generally developed to guarantee low wear and friction, we were not at all sure at first that they could handle conditions in the Variopac Pro,” said Braun. In order to meet this demand, igus reworked their knife-edge rollers with tribo-polymers to withstand high temperatures and support continuous operations. The material iglide P210 produced the best test results. As a result, the conveyor belts are characterized by high wear resistance, low coefficient of friction and require only low drive power. Krones chose to install iglide P210 knife edge rollers in the Variopac Pro after it became evident that they would outlast the required oneyear service life.
igus has built a strong reputation for meeting the demands of the food and packaging industry. The company introduces new products every year. One area of extreme success for igus has been through through format adjustments. This provides the end user with the capabilities to accommodate various packaging. igus offers online and internal tools through which customers can calculate how long a specific application will last. In the food and packaging industry, this factor is crucial as it results in less downtime, less maintenance and improves the customer’s throughput. igus is constantly developing its variety of materials and performs rigorous testing to ensure that every product meets and surpasses industry requirements