The food and beverage mechanical seals market is expected to grow on account of their rising demand for leakage prevention. These food and beverage processing seals are available in several designs and differ based on their functions and the specific machinery or product types they are used with. The food industry in developing countries is likely to register growth with increasing adoption of processed foods, which, in turn, is likely to trigger the growth of the food and beverage processing seals market.
The industry players in the food and beverage processing seals market are bound to comply with the regulations set by the regulatory bodies associated with the food application industries to suit the respective needs of the production processes and ingredients used. For instance, in chocolate production, some fatty ingredients need to be heated at a very high temperature, therefore seals must be able to sustain the abrupt and extreme rates of change in temperature by showing low-temperature flexibility.
Seals must also endure essential oils, beer stone, and wort that are harsh or have high viscosity while other ingredients such as sugar and fruits are a cause for the abrasion of seals. At the same time, seals need to be synonymous with hygiene and follow all the necessary rules and regulations put forth by regulating authorities such as the FDA, FSA, and FSSAI. Mechanical seals with required properties to sustain the process without causing any contamination can be achieved to a large extent by the innovation of new technologies and the creation of new materials.
Based on materials, the food and beverage mechanical seals market can be segmented in four different types, including metals, face materials, elastomers, and other materials. Elastomers and face materials are used independently as well as in combination with metal seals. The most common type of metal used for the manufacturing of seals is stainless steel owing to its property of high corrosion resistance, thus preventing any contamination of food or beverages. Ceramics are the most conventional materials used for face seals that can be applied on a mechanical seal in a physical form or by “plasma coating”. The processed food seals market can also be segmented based on the food being processed such as dry food, aqueous food (dairy, water or juices) or fatty food (butter, cheese, cream, and oils). These food types react differently when in contact with seal materials
Based on types, the food and beverage mechanical seals market can be segmented as an axial seal, bi-directional seal, diaphragm, dynamic seal, excluder, gasket, hydrodynamic seal, O-ring, radial seal, rotary seal, and static seal. The bi-directional seal is used to prevent leakage across both sides under changing levels of fluid exposure or pressure. Axial seal or the O-ring is the seal that is applied both on the bottom and on top of the O-Ring’s cross-section. The excluder is a device that helps keep moisture, dirt, and other contaminants out of the sealing area to protect the product.
The products are prone to wear and tear or other issues, which may cause leakage. In such cases, they must be replaced immediately to reduce the downtime. To avoid incidents and ensure safety and hygiene, seals that are produced these days have automated Cleaning-In-Place (CIP) and Sterilization in Place (SIP). This feature prevents toxic contamination of the products and recontamination of the process. Rapid prototyping, a 3D printing technology process, helps speed up the process in case the seals require replacing. These prototypes are put in place and used until the actual solution is found, thereby reducing the overall downtime of a machine.
Food grade products require lubrication to reduce damages caused due to friction during processing in the machinery or the product. The lubricant is also used in the making of seal in the compound of the rubber called internal lubrication or can be added externally. The sealing industry is also trying to come up with innovative compounds that may be less affected by friction. For example, lubrication in a hydraulic seal is affected by the finishing of the coating material used for counter surfaces. Traditionally, hydraulic seals have a Hexavalent Chromium (CR6) plating to provide friction resistance and surface finish characteristics, which has become a concern for REACH directive as it is harmful to lungs, nose, throat, and skin, therefore, initiating a change in the coating materials used.
Oz Seals, a specialty food seals manufacturer produces hydraulic and pneumatic seals. The company offers standard seals as well as specialty seals. Its food-grade seals are mainly made of PTFE, EPDM rubber, food-grade polyurethane, and silicone. Garlock is a seal manufacturer that sells Flexitallic Sigma, food quality hoses, and Garlock Bio-Eco seals. The Garlock Bio-Eco seals are virtually resistant to all chemicals.
Freudenberg has developed new material variants to substitute EPDM, FKM, VMQ, and NBR with Fluroperene that is suitable for use to counter challenges such as aggressive levels of heat and pressure. The company specializes in creating new specialty materials that prevent flavor transfer and have a hygienic design. It has also launched a registered product - Hygienic Usit Ring, which prevents the formation and breeding of bacteria under the screw head of the cap. SKF focuses on offering seals that reduce downtime and risk of contamination. The company offers seals with wash-down resistance, special seals to resist high or low temperatures, radial shaft seals, and flexible retrofit seals.
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