AFT Fluorotec works extensively with the food and beverage industries, primarily because the materials we work with suit the requirements of food processing and contact very well.
However, a couple of years ago we were contacted to discuss a specialist requirement within this industry.
Anyone that has ever looked after a baby knows the lengths one must go to when preparing baby formula milk to ensure everything is completely sterile. Boiling kettles and steaming bottles, it’s a serious business. Ever wondered how the powder in the tin is kept sterile during production?
It’s because we at AFT make some of the equipment that allows this to be the case.
Powder handling is common in the food and beverage sector but when the product you are handling is for baby formula there are more than a few more considerations.
Any materials used must have the relevant approvals and certification and full traceability. We must also follow some exacting guidelines when it comes to machining these to ensure the material is not contaminated during the process.
So before we even begin designing or machining the components we have a rigid specification to work to. What’s more, the job required multiple components to be manufactured – each with different specifications that required the use of different materials.
Many of the components formed the structure of the machines and many others were seals.
There were two completely different material types required here. One had to be soft and compliant to work as a seal and the other rigid with good mechanical strength so as to offer structural integrity.
Luckily we know a thing or two about the materials we work with! We were quickly able to narrow down the options for the customer and that allowed us to select the final materials for the components.
Interestingly, seal materials were much more plentiful than mechanical options, which is unusual as the material choice for seals tends to be more limited due to the critical role they play.
We then sat down with our customer to talk through the pros and cons of each material and then agree on the best options.
From here, we created a number of prototypes for the customer and conducted a series of trials until we were happy that components were ideal for the application.
Two years on and these are standard components that we offer to customers. We wrote a specification that ensured that we handled them properly and as a result of that, our customers continue to use us as their supplier.
We like a challenge and our work often presents one for us. If you have a similar project that other suppliers might shy away from, then give us a call and we can chat about how we can help.