Cost-effective pneumatic actuators for food and beverage machinery

Paul Boughton

Festo is launching a new generation of pneumatic actuators that have been designed to provide a cost-effective alternative to specialist high-end components for the food and beverage industries. The actuators employ 'Clean Design' principles to help minimise contamination risk and are suitable for use in aggressive environments where frequent wash-downs are encountered. The first products in this new range include corrosion-resistant round and guided cylinders that use FDA (USA Food and Drug Administration) approved seals and USDA (USA Department of Agriculture) approved H1 food-grade lubricants.
The new Clean Design cylinders are intended to help OEMs building food-safe automation overcome the apparent dichotomy between expensive custom components and off-the-shelf equipment that does not comply with standards. Festo believes that there is a market for automation components that steer a clear middle road, produced using a combination of standard parts, specialist materials and state-of-the-art fabrication technologies.
Festo's new CRDSNU round cylinders and DGRF guided cylinders are the first products to embody these principles, following extensive research into surface friction, lubrication and wear, materials analysis and computer-optimised design. Both product families are characterised by very smooth, corrosion-resistant body profiles that are free from protrusions to facilitate efficient wash-down and removal of contamination.
The CRDSNU stainless steel round cylinder is available in eight ISO 6432 sizes spanning stroke lengths from 1-500mm. The cylinder uses Festo's patented PPS self-adjusting pneumatic cushioning technology that automatically adapts to the prevailing load and speed conditions to provide optimum end-position cushioning. This technology offers maintenance-free operation and has the additional advantage that, by obviating the need for a manually-adjustable cushioning screw, it helps preserve the cylinder's clean wash-down lines and ensure optimum machine operation with minimal noise.
For applications that involve high torque moments, Festo is introducing the new DGRF guided cylinder that features lateral piston rod support guides. These cylinders offer a choice of six different bore sizes from 20-63mm and are available with stroke lengths from 10-400mm.
As standard, Festo's CRDSNU and DGRF cylinders are equipped with FDA-compliant lubricants and wiper seals for use in environments involving direct contact with food products. However, for particularly aggressive applications demanding frequent detergent-based wash-downs, the cylinders are also optionally available with UHMWPE (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene) self-lubricating seals. These non-toxic seals combine high resistance to abrasion with an exceptionally low coefficient of friction, which helps to ensure a long service life when 'dry-running' operations are encountered.
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