New (food grade/food safe) epoxy adhesives are expanding the possibilities for bonding and joining components in the demanding food processing industry. Food processing equipment is complex precision machinery, requiring extremely reliable bonds and excellent seals. In this area, it is always a question of hygiene and safety, as well as engineering. The new epoxies are filling a real need.
Food seals are critical to both equipment operation and hygiene during food processing. Contamination can be lethal, whether it’s your home blender or industrial-scale food handling equipment. Seals are, therefore, extremely important.
Food processing machine bonding is both an economic and a structural issue. Given the moving parts, heavy wear and tear, and rigorous cleaning regimes, any adhesive employed for bonding or sealing parts must maintain the highest possible structural and durability performance.
The new epoxies need to be stable – not only against cleaning chemicals and dishwashers but also constituents within the food itself – for example, certain foodstuffs and raw materials can be quite acidic. It is important adhesives remain stable and do not leach or discolour in the presence of this wide range of foodstuffs.
That said, there are various issues in using this class of epoxies in food processing equipment:
Bonding and sealing materials must be high endurance. They must resist heat, chemistry, cleaning agents, and the stresses of their position. Seals are similarly affected, acting to prevent leaks and airborne contamination.
The raw material restrictions laid out by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) limits the features of adhesive products in this field. This is where technical support can help to identify the most effective methods for the application of suitable products.
The bonding agents must be safe to use in contact with food. They mustn’t be any sort of risk to the public through chemical breakdown of the bonding agent.
These adhesives must also meet regulatory specifications for safety. Depending on the regulatory environment, this can be a very diverse range of requirements.
The science behind industrial bonding agents has to develop products against some of the most demanding range of requirements in any sort of industrial production.
The new sealing and bonding adhesives are two-component epoxies that have been developed using FDA-approved raw materials. As referenced in the Code of Federal Regulations, 21CFR175.300 or 21CFR175.105. They’re designed to offer high strength adhesion to a wide variety of materials commonly found in the food processing equipment industry. They have been developed to withstand heavy wear-and-tear, impact, and vibration and can be used in many applications for both domestic kitchen utensils and appliances, commercial catering equipment, and of course, large scale food and drink manufacturing equipment.
The new epoxies are tough. They can cure at room temperature and even faster at higher temperatures. They offer additional benefits over conventional fasteners – as well as holding parts together; they seal them. Unlike mechanical fasteners, epoxies will not vibrate loose and, most importantly, keep surfaces smooth and easy to clean – allowing machinery to be kept hygienic. No bolt holes or fastenings for food to become trapped around.
For further information about these products, please contact Permabond.