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issue: July 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

Plastics & Plastic Parts
Plastic Triplets: Adding More to the Mix

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by David Simpson, Contributing Editor

When foodservice equipment maker Hobart Corporation (Troy, OH, U.S.) designed a new 60-qt dough mixer to replace an existing machine, the design team wanted to include several enhancements, most notably an ergonomic swing-out bowl.

The bowl facilitates the combination of ingredients and enables customers to access the end product easier by clearing the machine head.

The bowl facilitates the combination of ingredients and enables customers to access the end product easier by clearing the machine head.

A spring-loaded pin latch secures the bowl on the 900-lb, 5.5-ft tall mixer while the customer is mixing. The motion of the bowl is similar to closing a door. To release the bowl, a lever is pressed, and the bowl is free to move out. The latching mechanism is an important part of the design because it allows the bowl to swing in and out. It needs to be functional for the mixer to work.

Hobart found that the use of new plastic bearings in its 60-qt dough mixer helped reduce warranty calls and service problems.

However, the mixer encounters high contamination (flour, sugar, and other baking materials), which could work its way into the latch and cause it to stick. Initial testing showed that the locking pin in the bowl latch could seize. This not only halts production but increases maintenance time and, therefore, costs.

The problem was discovered during the advanced design stages, so any significant design changes would require additional tooling, added lead times for parts, and more testing. These were three issues the company wanted to avoid. The search for a compatible alternative ensued. The solution needed to be lubrication-free since any grease or oil needed by a metal bearing would contaminate the food. It also needed to be maintenance-free to ensure the machine will perform as expected.

Maintenance-free translates into less labor for the user. Also, in situations where any regular maintenance is required, the performance of the part hinges on the assumption that the users will indeed perform the necessary adjustments and that they will perform them correctly.

Hobart finally discovered iglide J from igus (East Providence, RI, U.S.). The iglide J is a self-lubricated, maintenance-free, plastic-based plain bearing. It is also contamination- and chemical-resistant. The iglide plastic bearings are available in more than 16 high-performance material blends, and customers can choose from more than 6,000 imperial and metric bearing sizes from stock. The plastic bearings are an alternative to bronze, metal-back, and custom injection-molded bearings.

The bearing Hobart used also diverts food ingredients that might work their way into the latch and cause it to stick or seize. The bearing is slotted to accommodate material flow and any residual dough or ingredients that will pass through the slots tooled into the bearing.

Not only did the supplier offer the features Hobart needed to suit its mixer, but it also worked closely with the OEM to meet every aspect of the application. Hobart decided to use two other iglide bearings on the mixer.

The iglide L250 is installed on the handle on the side that actuates the lever for the pin to be lifted and lowered, and the iglide T500 is used on the pin on the rear of the mixer. Both prevent the cast-iron parts from rubbing together, eliminating the potential of early failure and premature rusting.
The iglide plastic bearings are ideal for the application, confirms Brian Brunswick, design engineer for Hobart. “We first contemplated using a bronze bearing, but quickly realized plastic was the way to go,” he explains. “The excellent chemical resistance of the bearings was also a large contributing factor in our decision.”

With the new plastic bearings, Hobart says it has averted warranty calls and service problems and can deliver a high-quality product to its customers.

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