Improved hygiene standards, greater energy efficiency and easier maintenance are claimed for a new conveyor designed specifically for the beverage and food industry to be launched later this month at the trade event Motion, Drive & Automation in Hanover, Germany.
The new Flexon hinged slat chains and MatTop chains are up to 40 per cent lighter than metal versions resulting in reduced drive input, increased conveying output and lower maintenance, said manufacturer Iwis, based in Munich, Germany.
“The polymer chains excel in terms of their low friction and wear resistance,” said Frank Mitzschke design and development product manager. “As a result, they can reach extended operational times without lubrication, facilitating their use in the food, beverage and packaging industries where strict hygiene requirements apply.”
Food industry applications include the transport of glass and plastic bottles, cans, crates, barrels and casks in drink bottling and packaging plants and the handling of small to medium-sized products.
The chains, made with DuPont’s Delrin acetal resin, are said to combine high mechanical load capacity, dimensional stability, particularly in humid environments and good sliding behaviour. Also, compared with metal chains, the polymer versions are claimed to be cheaper to produce and easier to tailor to customers’ specific requirements.
Delrin’s corrosion resistance allows the use of highly-effective cleaning agents which would be impossible with metal chains or would require a high degree of maintenance.
Depending on customers’ needs, chain links are available with two-component injection molding where the strap made of Delrin is over-molded with a non-slip, soft component made of a high-performance thermoplastic elastomer.
Price of the new equipment depends upon the order volume and product mix.
Dr Mitzschke told FoodProductionDaily.com: “Our product portfolio also contains standard roller chains in carbon steel and stainless steel, maintenance free roller chains, gripper chains for foil packaging machines, conveyor chains on customer request, high precision roller chains for parallel working chains in printing and packaging machines and flattop chains and modular belts.”
Karsten Faust, account manager at DuPont Deutschland, said: “Drawing from our comprehensive range of high-performance polymers, we have been able to work with Iwis in developing and achieving a tailored solution.”
Meanwhile, the company is researching the use of tailored reinforced fibers and lubricants to extend the benefits of polymer conveyor chains to applications with higher mechanical loads.