The igus drylin W linear guide with liners of iglidur A160 high-performance polymers makes food technology more hygienic – without using any lubricants
Food production is challenging with contamination from bacteria or other pathogens need to be avoided at all costs so that consumer safety is not at risk. Countermeasures start with employees’ personal hygiene and affect the entire production process. Containers must be sterile and floors clean at all times. In addition, conveyor technology and components installed in the production system must also ensure that food is moved safely from the factory to the supermarket. Companies have various options for implementing linear movements in food technology systems.
There are various ways of realising linear movements: the advantage of metallic ball bearings is low-friction guidance. The load is absorbed by the inner row of ball guides. The rule is: the more balls, the greater the load that can be applied. However, friction and wear increase as well. This means that ball bearings must be well-lubricated to minimise frictional forces. Then again, lubrication makes ball bearings susceptible to dirt and moisture. At the same time, the ball bearing system’s internal structure requires a great deal of maintenance, and hard friction partners that roll generate noise and vibration. All of these issues often pose challenges for food technology, which has to be hygienically flawless.
Hygienic-design plain bearings are the solution
Where ball bearings reach their limits, linear plain bearings – metal carriages with plastic bearings that move on stainless-steel or aluminium rails – can shine. igus plain bearings made of high-performance plastic require no external lubrication due to their tribologically optimised compounds. Instead, igus uses solid lubricants in the plastic, virtually eliminating the risk of contaminating food with lubricants. Then there is their durability: drylin W linear guides are wear-resistant and low-maintenance. The guide rail is also made of 316 stainless steel, protecting it against corrosion. The Installation Size 20 drylin linear guide introduced last year is the first igus stainless-steel version. It was developed according to hygienic-design guidelines. Corrosion-free stainless steel and a smooth, rounded, open design allow for quick cleaning and drainage. The bottom seal protects the space under the rail from dirt accumulation and prevents food and chemical residues from settling. Shaft seals also protect gaps and crevices from debris. Sealing can also be realised with circumferential welding or soldered seams, as is the case with the smaller carriages. The system also features a special fastening – hygienic screws with seals hold the stainless-steel rails in place. This design greatly reduces downtimes and enhances running time efficiency.
Another central element are the liners made of the iglidur A160 material. The installed technology must meet formal requirements for the food and beverage industry. Conformity to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards and EC Regulation 10/2011 requirements is particularly important. So, materials used in production must be resistant to abrasion, moisture and chemicals. Then, there are the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) design principles, which also apply specifically to the food industry. To meet these requirements, igus uses iglidur A160, its in-house high-performance polymer, which is ideal for use in food technology. The blue material complies with FDA and EC Regulation 10/2011 standards and is therefore ideal for the special requirements of the food industry. Even in wet areas, iglidur A160 has an especially long service life on stainless-steel shafts, which can be predicted online. The high-performance plastic also shows high media resistance. Another advantage is that the linear liner is resistant to contamination thanks to its integrated dirt channels and, like the entire system, is easy to clean and replace. Combined with the hygienic-design single or double rails from the drylin W modular system, this delivers a clean, lubrication-free overall solution.
The hygienic-design drylin W modular system gives igus a solution for a large number of food-processing industries from baked goods and confectionery to fruit and vegetable processing to meat and sausage production. They can use plain bearing technology to significantly optimise production. This benefits not only the companies themselves, but ultimately also the consumers: the former can rely on a smooth process, the latter enjoy reliable food.
igus is already working on its next step. At this year’s Hannover Messe, igus is exhibiting a carriage made entirely of iglidur A160, which can be easily cleaned with water because there are hardly any edges, indentations or screws where dirt could collect. Seals protect against contamination so that no food or chemical residue can be deposited.
In summary, food production and processing requires a high level of safety for all components. Anything that comes into contact with food must be wear-resistant, corrosion-proof, and easy to clean. The same requirements apply to the plain and spherical bearings and ball and linear bearings made from lubrication-free, maintenance-free igus high-performance polymers. They have already proven themselves in a large number of moving applications in food technology, for example the hygienic-design drylin W modular linear guide system. Sliding elements made of the iglidur A160 food material make the production process safe, completely lubrication-free and more hygienic.