Whenever food is being packaged or prepared, clean and sterilizable surfaces and vessels are critical. Plastics play a key role in mixing, cooking, packaging and transportion of all types of food. Plastics can be heated or cooled repeatedly without affecting food taste or appearance. Food preparation equipment made with plastics can be frequently disinfected and sterilized without fear of degradation. Bearing or load surfaces made from plastics will not introduce dangerous shavings and require no lubrication. And plastics can be machined, molded, or formed into almost any shape imaginable.
The paragraphs below describe specific materials and their uses in this industry . . .
See our table showing Agency Approvals and Listings for many plastic materials.
- LubX C
LubX ® C is a new engineering plastic that provides all of the physical properties of UHMW, but has been modified to provide additional lubrication for material-handling and automation applications, especially where FDA compliance is required. This material is available in molded sheet form and is BLUE-GRAY in color.
- Sustarin C MDT
Sustarin® C MDT is a new engineering plastic that provides all of the physical properties of acetal, but can be sensed by metal detectors and is FDA compliant. This material is available in molded sheet and rod forms and is a brilliant BLUE in color.
- TecaPEEK MT
Tecapeek MT is manufactured using an unfilled Polyetheretherketone resin. This formulation of PEEK is a superior material to many other polymer formulations because of its resistance to chemical attack as well as its ability to be repeatedly steam sterilized. TecaPEEK is an excellent choice of material where high operating temperatures, good radioactive resistance and extremely low resistance to cracking make it an ideal material for food processing components, since it is FDA compliant. This material is available in sheet and rod forms and is available in standard colors of Black, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. Custom colors available upon special order.
- PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene)
PTFE high chemical resistance, low and high temperature capability, resistance to most chemicals (including strong acids and bases), low friction, electrical and thermal insulation, and "slipperiness". PTFE lacks mechanical strength in some configurations, so it is typically used for seals, gaskets, fittings, and non-loaded parts. Unfilled PTFE's and selected filled grades (Fluorosint 207 and HPV , for example) are FDA approved.
- PEEK (PolyEtherEtherKetone)
PEEK offers exceptional chemical resistance combined with heat resistance to 480°F. It does not degrade with exposure to water or steam, and is flame- and radiation-resistant. Unfilled ("virgin") PEEK received FDA approval in 1998 and may be used in food contact and in processing equipment without danger of contamination or degradation. Glass and carbon-fiber reinforced grades (not FDA approved) are also available for improved dimensional stability, stiffness, compressive strength, and heat dissipation. This material is available in sheet, rod and tube forms. NOTE: Boedeker Plastics now carries Virgin PEEK 450G Tube Stock.
- Ertalyte® PET-P (Polyethylene Terephthalate)
Ertalyte® offers the dimensional stability of acetal with the wear resistance of nylon. Because of its excellent resistance to water and a broad range of pH (2.0 to 9.0), Ertalyte® can be used in wet environments without staining or weakening its mechanical properties, especially where chlorine-water sterilization is used. Both natural (white) and black colors are FDA and USDA compliant.
- Hydex 4101® (PBT Polyester)
Due to its high wear resistance, high purity and chemical resistance, Hydex 4101® is ideal for slide blocks, gears, valve bodies, and other mechanical/chemical components. Its properties compare to a combination of acetal and nylon, with higher impact strength and lower coefficient of friction than competing PET-P. Hydex 4101® is white in color and FDA, USDA, and 3A-Dairy approved.
- Ultem ® Polyetherimide
Because of its superior physical properties and its ability to withstand a wide spectrum of sterilization methods, Ultem is often specified as the material of choice in demanding reusable device or equipment applications. In Ultem's natural unpigmented form, it meets the requirements of USP Class VI and is FDA compliant. Custom FDA compliant colors further expand its appeal in a variety of applications.
- Acetal Copolymer
Acetal Copolymer is a well-recognized engineering thermoplastic which is widely used in many applications. Acetals are stiff, strong, scratch-resistant, chemically-resistant and readily machinable. Acetals may be steam autoclaved, are easily machined, and are available in lot-controlled FDA-compliant colors. However, Acetals should NOT be used where chlorine-water is present, as the surface may be degraded.
- Noryl ® PPO (Polyphenylene Oxide & Styrene)
Noryl® is an important structural material with high strength and excellent temperature resistance. It may be machined to close tolerances and maintains dimensional stability even when exposed to moisture. It may be used continuously at temperatures in excess of 220°F. Some selected Noryl® grades offer FDA compliant.
Nylon is the industrial standard by which all other plastics are measured. High strength and toughness combined with high temperature properties and excellent resistance to grease, oil, and solvents. Nylon gears, seals, wear plates, washers, bushings, and bearings can be used to 250°F. FDA approved grades of Nylon are available, including some lubricant-filled.
Some food processing windows or containers require glass-like transparency, FDA compliance and excellent impact resistance. With these material parameters, polycarbonate is sometimes the only suitable material, especially, where components must be machined to close tolerances.
- UHMW-PE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene)
The diverse uses of UHMW-PE range from standard wear applications to rollers, guides, gears, and impellers. Light weight, biocompatibility, self- lubrication, and wear resistance are among the major attributes of this material. It also floats in water. UHMW-PE is available in a wide variety of standard sheets, rods, tubes, and custom profile extrusions (half-rounds, angles, channels, etc.) UHMW-PE is FDA compliant.
ABS is a general purpose amorphous thermoplastic, providing good impact strength, toughness, stiffness, and good chemical resistance. FDA compliant grades are available. ABS is easily machined and is cost effective.