Food processing equipment is anything that’s used in any part of the food production or storage process—from the machines that make boxes or mechanically seal plastic containers, to the machines the perform the slaughtering and the movement of animal carcasses. Obviously, this means food processing equipment is extremely varied and diverse. Even though this is so, there are a few things that should be considered any and every time you fabricate food processing equipment parts out of metal.
The type of metal
If you’re new to metal fabrication, you might not be aware, but every part you make for food processing equipment must be made of food-grade metal. Any good steel fabricators in Umatilla County, OR can inform you that 304 stainless steel is the most common food-grade metal (most common because of its affordability). A better, albeit more expensive, option is 316 stainless steel, which corrodes at a much slower rate. You can find both food-grade stainless steels in either tube-stock or sheet forms.
Your process for sterilely handling your food-grade metals
To machine parts for food processing equipment you have to have a process in place for preventing any food-grade metal from mingling or being exposed to any rusting or corroding metal. Being around other rusting metals is officially deemed to “contaminate” your food-grade metal. Usually, if you split your workspace so that food-grade metals and non-food-grade metals are worked with in separate areas, you won’t run into problems.
Proper tools and equipment
Contamination is the biggest risk for making food processing equipment parts. As we’ve seen, that means you need distinct areas in your workshop for food- and non-food related machining. This rule extends to your equipment as well. You need totally distinct equipment for making food processing parts, and this equipment cannot be used to fabricate other products, especially products machined from carbon steel. This means companies often either specialize only in food processing part fabrication, or else have to be enormous steel fabricators in order to sustain both food- and non-food-related fabrication. Another thing to note is that all welding must be done with a TIG welding setup, as that resists bacterial growth better than other welds.
Assembly and finish
Food processing equipment parts are all made to very exact standards, as they need to fit together without leaving pockets for bacterial growth. Be sure you can meet these strict standards. Also, food processing parts have to be finished differently. They’re blasted using glass beads while suspended in water. This leaves a good finish, with no scratches to house bacteria.
Thorough inspection process
Your process should be closely monitored, and there should be testing at important steps throughout the fabricating process. Make sure to inspect the dimensions, especially before the blasting process, as even a small deviation can result in the piece being unusable. After finishing, check for a uniform satin finish, with no scratches, and you should be good to go.
Now you know the basics about food processing part fabrication. If you are in need of steel fabricators in Umatilla County, OR, NW Metal Fabricators Inc. is the right company for you. We’ve been in the fabrication business for over 31 years, and have a wealth of experience other steel fabricators don’t have. Give us a call today and schedule your free appointment and estimate.
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