Monday, June 21, 2010

'Clean Design' pneumatic actuators provide cost-effective solution for food industry automation

Round and guided cylinders use FDA-approved lubricants and seals

Festo has launched a new generation of pneumatic actuators designed to provide a cost-effective alternative to specialist high-end components for the food and beverage industries. The actuators employ 'Clean Design' principles to help minimise contamination risk, and are ideal for use in aggressive environments where frequent wash-down procedures are implemented. The first products in this new range include corrosion-resistant round and guided cylinders that use FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved seals and USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) approved H1 food-grade lubricants.

The new Clean Design cylinders are intended to help OEMs building food safe automation overcome the apparent dichotomy between expensive custom components and non standards compliant off-the-shelf equipment. Festo believes that there is a market for automation components that steer a clear middle road, produced using a combination of standard parts, specialist materials and the latest fabrication technologies.

Their new CRDSNU round cylinders and DGRF guided cylinders are the first products to embody these principles, following extensive research into surface friction, lubrication and wear, materials analysis and computer-optimised design. Both product families are characterised by very smooth, corrosion-resistant body profiles that are free from protrusions, to facilitate efficient wash-down and removal of any bacterial contamination.

The CRDSNU stainless steel round cylinder is available in eight ISO 6432 compliant sizes spanning stroke lengths from 1 to 500 mm. The cylinder uses Festo's patented PPS self-adjusting pneumatic cushioning technology, which automatically adapts to the prevailing load and speed conditions to provide optimum end-position cushioning. This technology offers maintenance-free operation, and has the additional advantage that by obviating the need for a manually-adjustable cushioning screw, it helps preserve the cylinder's clean wash-down lines and ensure optimum machine operation with minimal noise.

For applications that involve high torque moments, Festo has introduced the new DGRF guided cylinder, which features lateral piston rod support guides. These cylinders offer a choice of six different bore sizes from 20 to 63 mm, and are available with stroke lengths from 10 to 400 mm.

As standard, Festo's CRDSNU and DGRF cylinders are fitted with FDA-compliant lubricants and wiper seals, suitable for use in environments involving direct contact with food products. However, for particularly aggressive applications demanding frequent detergent-based wash-down, the cylinders are also optionally available with UHMWPE (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) self-lubricating seals. These non-toxic seals combine high abrasion resistance with an exceptionally low coefficient of friction, which helps to ensure a long service life when 'dry-running' operations are encountered.

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