How Thermal Spraying Helps With Food Processing Applications
When it comes to food processing applications, it is important that the company can boost both uptime and cleanliness. How can these goals be achieved in the first place? The answer you are looking for is engineered coatings. Let’s first understand the challenges that food and beverage manufacturers face. Firstly, you should note that the food processing industry is constantly expanding. This means food and beverage producers have to rely on automated and sophisticated equipment to meet ongoing consumer demands. Companies will keep specifying the need to upgrade older machinery and/or acquire new equipment. This ensures that they can continue manufacturing everything from meat and poultry products to frozen food and bakery items.
This is when thermal spray coatings come into the picture. They will be applied onto said equipment and machinery. Let’s find out more on how they can provide ‘assistance’ to food manufacturers.
Help Manufacturers Meet Regulatory Requirements from Food Processing Applications
For starters, coatings for machineries – the ones that are designed to come into direct contact with food – can be tweaked to meet strict criteria for use. For example, blades and slicers. Manufacturers can rest assured that modern coating formulas can be made to comply with both USDA and FDA codes as well as other equivalent government standards in countries that are located outside of the U.S. The right coatings can also help maintain surface hardness levels of pump shafts, impellers, sleeves and more. This ensures that the equipment service lifespan is extended and will continue to be protected against galling, friction, wear and corrosion.
Next, the surfaces of idle equipment are at risk to oxidizing in harsh environments. Thermal spray coatings prevent that from happening. In fact, thermal sprayed surfaces will also make sanitation routines easy to follow and environmentally friendly. When a surface is non-porous and sufficiently dense, it can inhibit bacterial growth, which enables ease of cleaning. Coated parts also feature non-stick surfaces that can ensure fast mold release and prevent product hang-up.
Minimize Downtime in Food Processing Applications
Some call them engineered smart coatings, and they can be used to protect and enhance metal parts like cookie molds found in the food processing industry. The coatings are designed to solve both performance and hygiene problems. These issues include anything from:
- Sticky sugar build-up
Maintain Efficiency of Homogenizer Plungers and Pump Seals
Milk and juices are some of the common food products that need to be homogenized. In this case, Homogenizer plungers are needed and they are often coated with oxide ceramic and carbide. Thee coatings, which are very dense and hard, can efficiently protect those parts against wear and corrosion. What’s more, they can be ground and polished to surface finishes and tight tolerances that are as smooth as one micro-inch Ra. Hard chromium plating was used in the past but modern coatings, like the above, eliminate the environmental concerns that are associated with it.
Mechanical pump seals in the food processing industry are often made out of stainless steel materials, including 316L SS. These materials are coated with chromium oxide, via plasma spraying, to enhance the wear resistance of those parts as well. The hardness of these coatings are designed to be much harder than most food materials that can cause wear over time. Toothpaste, for example, are considered to be very abrasive products.