It’s easy to see why acetal belting is popular for conveying products through freezers and other areas of the plant.
“It is strong, tough and has a low coefficient of friction against many materials available,” said Adam Bannerman, lead engineer of Intralox’s food new product development group.
However, it’s also flammable.
“If acetal ignites, the flame it generates is really hard to see,” said Bobby Martin, executive product manager, conveying systems, AMF Bakery Systems.
Specifically, acetal burns with a bluish or clear blue flame.
“You’re likely to smell the formaldehyde from acetal before you see the flame,” said Kenneth King, commercial support manager, Ashworth Bros.
Mr. Martin added that acetal is the go-to material up to the oven loader whereas nylon is used due to its proximity to the heat source. However, acetal should not be used post-oven for cooling or anywhere near high heat. Nylon material is preferred, sometimes up to the packaging area.
For spirals, Intralox uses a special material called SELM, which stands for self-extinguishing, low-moisture absorption. For other applications in a bakery, Mr. Bannerman said, heat-resistant nylon belting mitigates the risk of fire in hazardous areas.
Mr. King suggested placing fire systems in close proximity to spiral systems as a safety precaution when using acetal belting. Additionally, maintenance personnel need to shield the plastic belting, especially if they’re welding on, above or adjacent to a conveyor.
“When you weld something, you’re going to get sparks,” he noted. “If that area is not shielded well and sparks lay on the belt, that’s the ignitor.”
Ashworth labels acetal belting to signal its risk of potential flammability.