During the last year, the number and size of food recalls has been staggering. With several major food processors, specifically in the poultry market, recalling massive amounts of product due to contamination, perhaps a change in material is in order, simply changing to a Metal or X-ray detectable plastic material may end recalls for contamination. The cost to change to a metal detectable plastic or x-ray detectable plastic is extremely small in comparison to the cost of these recalls.
What is a detectable Plastic
There are numerous quality high performance plastic materials that are available in Blue, X-ray and Metal detectable versions. These materials are designed with food safety in mind. These materials can assist the food industry and the food processing supply chain in keeping our foods safe. Identifying contaminates in the processing of foods can be made significantly easier with these detectable materials. Food safety should be the priority within the food processing industry. By changing to metal detectable plastic and X-ray detectable plastics, this can become a reality.
Metal Detectable Plastic and X-Ray Detectable Plastics
Here is a recent Press Release detailing the recalls and a rather straight forward and easy solution using detectable plastic.
(Newswire.net — October 10, 2016) Anaheim, CA – Can ‘Blue’ fix food recalls? –The year 2016 has seen some staggering food recalls by large food processors. Massive recalls of chicken specifically seem to have happened multiple times. The part that is the most amazing is that the root cause of many of these kinds of recalls is preventable. The specific recalls listed below are all for possible plastic contamination in the food product.
These large food processors should be aware of some simple steps that can totally eliminate these kinds of contaminates from getting into their food products.
Penny Wise, Pound Foolish
Keeping Food Processing Safe
While using FDA approved plastic materials for conveyor parts and moving components is a standard practice in most food processing plants, many processors use the cheapest available approved materials. This means that many producers are using a natural (white) HDPE, Acetal or other white approved plastic material. While it is safe to use these plastics, occasionally one of these parts gets jammed, breaks or wears to the point where parts can crack and pieces can get into the food processing line.
It Is Plain To See
The first easy step would be to use the same quality FDA approved material, but to buy the Blue metal detectable plastic version of the same approved material. This minor color change in the material makes any contaminates very easy to see with the naked eye. Since there are no food products in these bright blue colors, as long as there are employees looking at the food line, these broken pieces are easy to detect.
I Can See You
Speaking of detect, the big step up for detection of contaminates is to use a FDA approved plastic that is detectable by the X-ray or metal detection equipment already installed in these food processing lines. While these ‘metal detectable plastics’ cost more, they certainly cost less than one recent 4.5 million pound poultry recall.
The goal here is not to point the finger or call any company a ‘bad processor’, but rather to encourage these great food processors to use the ‘best practice’ types of materials to eliminate these monster food recalls.
In September 2016, Tyson Foods recalled 130,000 pounds of chicken nuggets for foreign materials in the product.
“According to Tyson Foods, the plastic material ranged in size from 21mm in length and 6.5mm in diameter and may have come from a round, hard plastic rod used to connect a plastic transfer belt. The firm said the products pass through a metal detector, but the plastic is not detectable to this technology,” the USDA recall announcement said.
Have You Considered Detectable Blue?
Blue Metal Detectable Plastics From Ensinger
Perhaps they could consider using a metal detectable plastic that is detectable by a standard metal detector. Industrial Plastic Supply has supplied this FDA approved Metal Detectable UHMW rod since early 2010. Currently, there are several FDA approved materials that are available in Blue; UHMW, Acetal, Nylon, Polyester and now PEEK. Some of these materials are also available in a ‘triple detection’ version, where it is detectable because of the vivid Blue color, and it is also Metal detectable and X-Ray detectable. One of these new versions is the Ultra-Detectable Polyester rod made by Ensinger® Plastics called Hydex® 4101 UD Blue (FDA Grade Polyester).
–In April and May of 2016, Pilgrim’s Pride had a recall totaling 5,550,904 pounds (yes 5.5 million pounds) of poultry do to possible foreign matter contamination.
The cost is staggering. To recall this quantity of food takes a small army of people to identify the possibly contaminated batches of food. Then notification is spread to all the possible distribution and wholesalers. The USDA is normally notified as one more step to notify the public.
Simple method to protect the safety of our food chain using detectable plastic materials
What is the cost to change to a more metal detectable plastic?
This depends on the type of plastic, and the detection method.
Let’s assume that the currently used material is an FDA approved grade of 1″ diameter Natural Acetal rod (a popular performance plastic used in food processing). And let’s assume this material would sell for approximately $2.00 – $2.50 per linear foot.
Changing to a Bright Blue FDA approved grade of Acetal Rod would cost about $3.50 – $4.00 per foot.
Upgrading to a Metal and X-ray detectable plastic that is FDA grade and Blue Acetal plastic rod would cost in the range of $8.25 – $9.00 per foot.
A recall of 100,000 pounds of poultry is, of course, significantly more expensive than upgrading the plastic materials in the food processing plant. Consider the upgrade an inexpensive insurance policy against these kinds of monster recalls, with a simple change to metal detectable plastic materials.
Metal Detectable Plastic and X-Ray Detectable Plastics Actually Saves Money
Contact us for more information on these Metal Detectable Plastic and X-Ray detectable plastic products. Blue Sheet and Rod are available in Acetal, Delrin®, Nylon, PBT – Polyester, and more. The special ‘triple detectable’ grades are currently produced in Acetal (Tecaform® UD Blue) and PBT – Polyester (Hydex® 4101 UD Blue). More materials are in final stages of development. Contact us for your special requirements.
UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) and PTFE Sheet(PolyTetraFlouroEthylene) are very similar materials, and yet very different at the same time. They both possess certain characteristics that make them similar to each other. For instance, they both have a very low co-efficient of friction, which means they are great for sliding applications and are easy to machine.
Both of these materials are very resistant to chemicals such as chlorine and some acids and have great wear resistance. They have low to no water absorption. They also are FDA approved for handling food. PTFE and UHMW Polyethylene are both nearly impossible to bond (without treatment) and are susceptible to sagging under tensile load which is called ‘creep’. These both have very low coefficient of friction and work well for wear strips, slide pads and truck liners to make it easy to empty. These two materials are different in many ways also, and choosing between the two materials for a specific job is critical.
Below are a few examples of how these two materials are different.
1. UHMW is a polyolefin and PTFE is a fluoropolymer. Polyolefins are double bonded carbon while Fluoropolymers are carbon and fluorine bonded. UHMW is a monomer which is consisted of one atom that will bond with another to form a polymer. PTFE is a polymer which is made up of a repeating chain of monomers.
2. PTFE has a higher temperature range than UHMW. The PTFE has a continuous use temperature of 500 degrees F. UHMW is much lower with a continuous use temperature of 200 degrees F and a melting point of 271 degrees F. The UHMW starts to become become soft at higher temperatures while the PTFE is much more resistant and with a melting point of 621 degrees F.
3. UHMW has higher abrasion resistance than PTFE. Both have great impact and wear resistance but because of UHMW having a molecular weight between 2-6 million making it the best wear resistance material in the plastic family, it makes it ideal to take wear and impact over a wider range and longer period of time without losing its properties.
4. UHMW has a much lower density than PTFE. This makes UHMW able to float in water while Fluoropolymers are significantly heavier (almost twice the density of UHMW) and would sink.
5. PTFE has excellent electrical and thermal properties. The virgin grade of PTFE is a better insulator and exhibits better electrical properties which can be used in radio frequencies, cables and circuit boards while UHMW cannot.
6. UHMW is much less expensive than the Fluoropolymers. Especially recently, PTFE has become harder to come by, and during the last 18 months there has been a global shortage of a key raw material called fluorspar that is used to make all Fluoropolymer materials. The ability to take lots of wear and tear and requiring low long term maintenance makes UHMW more cost effective.
7. The standard color of PTFE is Natural, which is a dense white. The UHMW comes in Natural (a deep milky white) or Black. The UHMW can be produced in many colors, and minimums are rather low. To obtain PTFE in colors is much more difficult, and would also have large minimum orders.
Click here for data sheet comparisons for each material…
Both the UHMW and the PTFE are available as sheet, sheets, sheeting, slab, bar, strip, panels, film, round rod, rods and block. Contact us for assistance with these or other shapes.
PTFE Sheeting Properties
Specific Gravity D792 2.14 – 2.24
Tensile Strength Yield D638 2,500 – 6,000
Tensile Modulus D638 80,000
Izod Impact – Notched D256 3.0
Hardness – Rockwell D785 D50 – D65
Deflection Temp @ 264psi D648 150
Deflection Temp @ 66 psi D648 250
Co. Thermal Expansion D696 5.5X10-5
UHMW Sheeting Properties
Specific Gravity D792 .93 – .94
Tensile Strength Yield D638 6,800
Coefficient of Friction – Static D1894 .25
Izod Impact – Notched D256 No Break
Hardness – Rockwell D785 R64
Vicat Softening Temp D1525 260
Deflection Temp @ 66 psi D648 174
Co. Thermal Expansion D696 11.0X10-5
These are just some examples of plastic materials being similar, and yet having very different properties. The PTFE Sheet and UHMW Sheet may appear very similar in color and can be used for some of the same applications, but when needed for a specific use or property needed, one might be dramatically better than the other. As the old saying goes, “You should never judge a book by its cover” and the same is true with plastic. Review the properties and test prior to choosing a final material for your application.
Is HDPE Sheet and Acetal Homopolymer Sheet the same?
Here is another popular question asked by our clients. Is HDPE the same as Acetal Copolymer / Delrin Acetal Homopolymer?
No, they are two totally different materials. Although the natural color of both is a milky white to opaque white, and they do look a bit similar, they are not. (HDPE is milky white to almost translucent depending on thickness, and the Acetal materials are a more opaque white to slightly milky – once again depending on thickness . See picture below of .500″ thick samples of HDPE and Acetal sheets)
HDPE and Acetal – Some Differences
The HDPE sheet and rod is a softer material, and is commonly known for its FDA certification and used in numerous food applications, such as: one gallon milk jugs, cutting boards, colored water glasses/cups, and many, many more. While it can be machined, because it is a bit softer and lighter, the tolerances it can be machined to are not very tight. It is not bondable, so it makes a great non-stick surface for sticky foods and adhesives.
The Acetal Copolymer and the premium Delrin® Acetal Homopolymer also have FDA certification, and are used heavily in the food processing industry. This material is a more mechanical material and is used in bearing and wear applications, cams, feeder screws, etc. This material is can be machined to tight tolerances, and will wear for long periods without lubrication. Due to its exceptional wear properties, it is not bondable, thus requiring mechanical fastening or threads to assemble. It has a very low water absorption, and you will find it in your toilet tank as the white moving parts in the filler mechanism. It is an extremely popular material for machinists, as it works much like soft brass.
While HDPE Sheet and Acetal Sheet look similar, they perform quite a bit differently.
While both materials are FDA approved, are machinable and can be used to make rigid wear resistant parts, they are two different resins and have drastically different physical properties. Another major difference is in the weight of these items, HDPE sheet and rod material weighs about 35% less than the Acetal sheet and rod material. Please check the data sheets for more information to assist in proper material selection.Acetal Data Sheet and HDPE Sheet Data
Acetal is commonly known as: Delrin Homopolymer Acetal, Tecaform AH,Ensital, Unital, Pomalux, Ultraform and many more.
HDPE is also known as: Ultraethylux,Densetec, Polystone G, Fortiflex, Versadur, Hostalen, and many more.
The Nylon® Family of plastics are all very tough, strong, machine well, and have excellent wear properties. Nylon is a very popular plastic material, and is found in numerous applications. One of the largest usages is the production of household carpeting because of the excellent wear resistance. Nylon frequently replaces materials such as UHMW, PET, Acetal Copolymer – Acetal Homopolymer, and ABS. It will outwear most plastics and is self lubricating.
The wide variety of types and colors is one of the largest in the plastic industry.
Nylon® Type 6/6 Rod, Sheet and Plate
The extruded Nylon 6/6 (Nylon Rod, Nylon Sheets and NylonTubes) material (aka: Polyhexamethylene Adiptimide) is available as Natural (tan – straw), Black, Glass filled (medium tan) and a molybdenum disulphide filled which is very dark gray. The most common size range for the extruded Nylon 6/6 is .125″ – 4.0″ diameter rod, and .125″ – 4.0″ thick sheet. The thicker materials should be cast due to cost and stress issues. For addition details on the Nylon Rod and Sheet 6/6 – see the data sheet.
Nylon Type 6 Cast Polycaprolactam
Cast Nylon Type 6 Rod – 26″ OD X 8.0″ Thick
The cast Nylon type 6 has almost limitless possibilities. Many colors are available in Cast Nylon, the natural color, black, blue, dark gray (normally molybdenum disulphide filled again), green and many more. Sometimes the color is determined by the additive (oil filled) or by industry. Because of its relative ease of manufacture, many companies prefer to get their Nylon in a special color to help ‘brand’ their parts.
Cast Type 6 Polyamide can be made in Nylon rod from about 1.25″ diameter to almost any size. Nylon sheet normally starts at about .75″ thickness, and once again, can be made to almost any thickness. In addition to standard rod and plate, other sizes and shapes can be cast from Nylon Type 6 – ie. discs, tubes, near net shapes, large profiles, etc. The only limitations are how much money you have, and the size of the truck to get it to you! We have had cast very large blocks (11″ X 11″ X 48″ solid), sheaves up to 66″ OD, large tubes 36″OD X 12″ ID X 14″ long, and many more massive Nylon Cast parts.
Nylon 6/12 -Low Moisture Absorption
The claim to fame for the Nylon Type 6/12 is the low moisture absorption of the material. This grade of Nylon Sheet and Nylon rod is more stable that the type 6 or 6/6, and with the lower water absorption, this resin can handle a wider range of environments. Our manufacturer partners can run this as an Extruded Nylon Rod or Nylon sheet item or as a Cast Nylon Rod item. This opens the door to a wide range of sizes and shapes. This material exhibits most of the same properties of the Nylon 6/6 and Cast Type 6, with some slight improvements in key properties.
Filled Grades of Nylon
Because of the processing of Cast Nylon, many additives can be mixed into the material. The most common are: glass filled, oil filled, Kevlar fiber filled (Hydlar Z) and the molybdenum disulphide (M0S2). In addition, other fills and colorants (pigments) can be added to assist in manufacture or processing.
Common specifications for Nylon are: L-P-410, ASTM D-4066,L-P-395C, Mil-M-20693B Comp A, Ty I, IA, II and III, Mil-M-20693B Comp B, Ty 4, Mil-P-17091B Type 1, and Mil-P-46060, PA0613, ASTM D-5989 S-PA0511, and more.
Before buying your next big chunk of Nylon, contact us for information on the benefits of a filled or near netshape Cast Nylon part.
Contact us with your specifications, we look forward to assisting you.
There are hundreds of plastic manufacturers, and even more plastic sheet, rod and tube suppliers.
What makes one better or worse than another? Some of the biggest differences are in the quality of the materials they have in stock. Not all manufacturers are the same. Some produce very inexpensive materials for the disposable trade. A few supply high quality materials from the big names in the plastic industry.
We buy only from American companies. Our suppliers and warehouses are all here, in the USA. While several of our factories have parent companies in Western Europe, they manufacture the bulk of their materials here in the states. With the NAFTA requirements, we are able to provide certification to all our materials.
American Made Quality Makes A Difference
As you probably know, materials made in areas around the world don’t have the same quality control systems that we have here. We have seen materials from suppliers not in the USA or Western Europe, and have chosen to not carry any of these materials – they just don’t measure up to Made In The USA! We believe that thatAmerican Made still means something, and it transfers to the materials we supply.
Since 1975 we have partnered with the best manufacturers, with the best industrial, machinable, mechanical and professional grades of plastic materials available in the marketplace. Quality names like: Westlake Plastics, Ensinger Plastics, Gehr Plastics, Rochling Plastics, Polymer Industries, Spartech Plastics, Plaskolite, and many, many more. None of these are suppliers are newcomers, most of our suppliers have been in business producing excellent quality plastic sheet and rod for over 50 years. We are the new guys, as we started in 1975!
Buy From A Plastics Professional
How can you tell if your plastics are ‘quality’ pieces of plastic? It is a bit tough to tell by just looking, and that is what the low quality suppliers and manufacturers count on. Sometimes the only way to tell is by cutting or machining a part. We have cut into materials that literally break when a saw blade comes into contact. Some materials have stress levels so high they bow significantly as we cut through the material. See article on Stress In Plastics.
These high internal stresses show up during machining as warping, changes in tolerance, large movement in part size and stress fractures. We have seen parts move by over 5% after part was machined and within 12 hours. This picture shows a piece of glass filled nylon from one of the ‘upstarts’ in the industry. As a test, we were cutting some strips. As you can see, the part has such a high stress level that it warped away from the rest of the sheet as we cut it. This is very dangerous for a person cutting or machining, as it can stop a blade or break free and strike an employee. We chose not to buy from this new company.
Plastic Sheet and rods Proudly American Made
We have been around the block a few times, and we know most of the things that will cause you problems in a material. That is why we only buy from the big guys, the high quality material manufacturers, the well known – tried and true manufacturers. We buy from the experts, the professionals, the leaders in our plastics industry. Supplying industrial grade plastics to machine shops may seem like an easy thing. We treat this process with the respect it deserves; your parts are important to you and your customers. We won’t let you down by providing unacceptable grades of plastic materials. Our parts aren’t stressed out!
Call on us today – 866-832-9315 and ask for a Plasticologist, or email us for more information about the quality materials we supply.
Polyetherimide or PEI is the generic name for one of the popular engineering resins. The most common resin supplier for this material is Sabic Plastics (formerly known at G.E. Plastics). This material comes in two common varieties used in the production of plastic shapes, the first is Ultem® 1000 which is an unfilled – natural material, the standard color for unfilled PEI (Ultem Sheet) is a transparent amber. The second is Ultem® 2300, which is a 30% glass filled PEI resin, this resin is a creamy tan color. Several other resins are available, including different percentages of glass fill, black pigment or color, and a few high end specialty grades.
Ultimate Ultem 1000
Some members our our industry refer to Ultem® as the ‘ultimate’ in plastic materials. With some of the best available properties, this material out performs most plastics in critical applications. This material is certified to: FDA compliance, USDA, 3A and also USP Class VI for medical use. Polyetherimides have exceptional tensile and flexural strengths and excellent electrical properties. Ultem® resins have inherent flame resistance and are UL 94 5VA at .075″. Ultem Sheet and rod machines very well, and can be used at temperatures of 340 degrees continuous.
Polyetherimide – PEI is the Ultimate Resin
The Polyetherimide family of plastic resins really excel in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. These industries have incredible demands on plastic materials, and most plastics fail quickly. Ultem resins handle the heat, chemical, stress better than almost any other material. For complete technical data sheets and more information chick for data sheet page. Several of our major manufacturers produce Ultem® PEI resins into stock sheets and rods. Some trade names from these suppliers are: Unitem®, Tempalux®, Sustatec® and many more. Ultem sheet and rod has some of the best properties of all the available plastic materials. Some materials that have some similar properties: Acetal, Radel, PEEK, PTFE. Check the data sheets on each of these materials to help in deciding which material is appropriate for your application.
Rod is normally available in rod from .375″ – 4.0″ diameters, and sheets from .125″ – over 2.0″ thickness, and we stock many items for immediate shipment. Additional sizes are available on request, including larger diameters, thicknesses, molded tube, extruded shapes, strips and bars.
Contact us for more details on this exceptional material. Email us or call us at 866-832-9315 Google+