Detectable Plastics for Various Industries
Most food and pharmaceutical processors need detectable materials for their preparation or processing equipment in order to avoid inconvenient and expensive recalls. In addition, because metal and X-ray detection equipment frequently cannot distinguish between common plastic materials, detectable materials significantly reduce contamination risks.
Piedmont Plastics offers detectable plastic products for parts frequently used in automation and conveying equipment, allowing conventional inspection systems to find unwanted particulates in the food product.
Our FDA-compliant thermoplastics are now available in optical, metal, and detectable X-ray grades, including UHMW, acetal, PBT, and PEEK.
Here is what you need to know about each available grade.
Optically Detectable Plastics
Optical detection serves as the first line of defense in production lines. Typically, this utilizes FDA-approved blue pigments visible to optical scanning equipment. Should a blue fragment get by optical detection, the worst-case scenario would be the high likelihood of a consumer noticing it before swallowing it.
It's essential to be aware that not all blue FDA-compliant plastics are metal or X-ray detectable, despite the blue color additive. Moreover, not all blue pigments or plastics adhere to FDA regulations.
Metal Detectable Plastics
There are metal-detecting grades of UHMW, acetal, PBT, and PEEK that contain metallic particles in the polymer matrix. These fillers can be recognized by standard metal detectors, preventing product contamination. However, because metal-detectable polymers can be less detectable than bare metals, detection equipment settings may need to be fine-tuned to guarantee that any contaminated product is detected and rejected.
X-Ray Detectable Plastics
A material's density affects its capacity to be detected by X-rays. To be detectable by X-ray, a high-density additive, such as barium sulfate, is incorporated throughout the material because plastics are typically less dense than the materials they are replacing. As a result, particle sizes as small as 3mm cubes can be x-ray detectable at speeds up to 250 feet per minute.
X-ray-detectable plastics can be made from UHMW, acetal, and PEEK.
Metal and X-Ray Detectable Plastics
Metal and X-ray detectability are simultaneously offered by some specially formulated Ultra Detectable (UD) materials. Unlike the previous grades listed, UD materials can be uncovered using any inspection technique employed in the food processing industry. In addition, UD materials can allow for dependable metal detection systems with visibility down to 4 mm particle size, depending on the line speed and detection settings. For X-ray detection, x-ray opacity can be up to 150 feet per minute with particles as small as 2 mm.
Common Plastics Used for Detectable Materials
In producing detectable materials, the advantages of the base polymer stay in place while keeping productivity and safety in mind. For instance, UHMW, acetal, PBT, and PEEK have significant resistance to Clean-In-Place (CIP) wash-down solutions because of their chemical resistance. These plastics also enjoy a long wear life, especially when compared to metal components. And because plastics are lighter than metals, this can increase operational efficiency.
Each plastic, however, has its specific performance characteristics:
- UHMW is a low-cost plastic that is incredibly strong and resilient. It is a popular plastic choice for food processing, conveyor, and packaging machinery parts like star wheels, idler sprockets, guide rails, and under-chain wear strips. UHMW features low friction and excellent wear properties.
- PEEK is preferred for high wear demands and extreme temperatures due to its outstanding hydrolysis resistance, chemical resistance, and rigidity at high temperatures. Applications like high-speed filling stations make extensive use of it.
- Acetal is a robust material that can withstand harsh cleaning agents, is simple to machine, and absorbs little water. Star wheels, scrapers, and rollers are typical acetal parts seen through metal or X-ray technology. In addition, acetal's lower moisture absorption is frequently utilized as a replacement material in several applications where nylon had previously been used.
- PBT is another material with low moisture absorption, stain resistance, good impact strength, good dimensional stability, and high machinability. As a result, PBT is an excellent choice for food pistons, scraper blades, valve bodies, and conveyor parts.
Other Benefits of Plastics on Processing Lines
Reliable, efficient automation is essential on production lines. Pharmaceutical and food processors want production to dash with as little overhead as possible. Machine manufacturers who offer clients the option of using detectable plastics during the assembly phase provide a distinct advantage to help set them apart from the competition.
Plastics are a cost-effective replacement option for many components due to their lighter weight, favorable wear properties, and capacity to meet regulatory requirements. By adding the ability to detect potential contaminants, manufacturers can offer industries more options and excellent protection against accidental contamination.
Detectable Plastics at Piedmont Plastics
To make choosing your following plastics material more straightforward, the materials experts at Piedmont Plastics would be pleased to talk with you about your unique application requirements and offer further information.
Call today, so we can get you started!