Since the inception of the conveyor belt in the early 20th century, conveyor systems have helped improve the productivity of countless industries. Although these conveyors have proved to be a vital feature of many manufacturing and industrial facilities, the overall functionality of these machines have not changed over the last century. However, with advancements in performance plastics technology, plastic materials have been introduced to help excel the efficiency of these systems. In addition to improving efficiency and productivity, protective plastic applications, such as clear barriers and machine guards, have been put into place to ensure the safety of the employees. Whether it’s to improve efficiency or provide enhanced protection, performance plastics have certainly provided exceptional value for facilities that rely on conveyor systems.
Using Performance Plastic Parts
With consumers around the globe growing accustomed to quick service and delivery, conveyor systems are relied upon now more than ever. Unfortunately, this additional demand can cause a lot of wear on traditional metallic parts, leading to many inefficiencies and high costs. By opting to use performance plastic parts and components, facilities can ensure the reliability and uninterrupted flow of materials during critical processes. There are a variety of plastic materials to choose from that can withstand the demanding conditions of conveyor systems. Some of these materials include UHMW, acetal, cast nylon, and extruded nylon. Each of these materials have their own benefits and some work better in certain applications than others. For example, UHMW is often used in conveyor systems because of its low coefficient of friction, minimal moisture absorption, and its ability to reduce or eliminate arching and bridging. In addition, acetal is another material commonly found in conveyor systems because of its easy machinability and availability in a broad range of grades. With that being said, many of these products are also available in special grades to help with performance and to meet industry standards. For instance, some of these grades help reduce slip stick, some are FDA compliant for food contact, and some are even metal and X-Ray detectable to reduce the risks associated with contamination. These plastic products provide a lot of versatility and can be found in many different conveyor parts. Some of these include chute liners, chain conveyor flights, belt scrapers, conveyor skirting, vibratory feed liners, dragline buckets, paddles, and slider beds. To learn more about why plastic materials can be better a better option than metal, read this article to review the benefits of acetal over metal.
Machine Guards for Conveyor Systems
In order to provide maximum protection, many machine guards have been installed to keep operators safe from ejected materials, broken tooling, and other potential hazards. The risks of these hazards are often unpredictable, which is why only certain materials should be purchased for these guards. These materials include polycarbonate, cast acrylic, extruded acrylic, and PETG. Many facilities will often choose to install plastic machine guards because of their superior optical clarity, lightweight design, and durability. For example, polycarbonate and metal are both sturdy materials, but polycarbonate is generally easier to maintain and typically lasts longer. In addition, acrylic is less than half the weight of glass, and both acrylic and polycarbonate can be 25-200 times stronger than glass. These products can be also be purchased in different colors, but it is more common to order the clear materials to help with visibility.
Clear Material Availability
Although the current demand for clear plastic sheet has led to a reduced supply, Piedmont Plastics has invested in and planned for consistent availability of materials across our branch network, significantly reducing published manufacturer lead times. This planned inventory will provide our customers with the clear materials they need for a wide array of barrier applications. Piedmont Plastics’ business is built to make inventory transfers among our branches fast and simple, and our comprehensive team approach creates a culture that encourages them. With over 48 stocking locations throughout North America, we can easily transfer materials among our branches to meet the needs of our customers.
At Piedmont Plastics, we offer a wide variety of performance plastic materials for your industrial and protective applications. Contact us to inquire about our various solutions or call us today to speak with a plastics expert!