Freedom of choice

Solvay’s specialty polymers have a proven track record in providing strong, lightweight alternatives to metals, thereby reducing costs and improving performance. Plus, they are routinely used to replace engineering polymers that have reached their performance limitations by delivering better mechanical properties, higher heat resistance, inherent flame retardancy, and a high-quality surface finish for applications where aesthetics are important.

For more than 20 years, Solvay has been a reliable materials supplier to the food & beverage industry. We offer the industry’s broadest range of high-performance polymers, which are FDA-compliant and meet stringent European food contact regulations.

High performance polymers offer a range of properties that can be matched with the specific product requirements of food contact applications, notably:

  • Higher heat resistance – up to 270°C, depending on the specific requirements of the appliance.

  • Chemical resistance – approved for use in food contact applications, making metal replacement possible.
  • Resistance to repeated contact with food, water, or steam at high temperature and pressure, important for items that are subject to frequent sterilization or dishwasher use.
  • High-quality surface finish comparable to that of metal products – important in today’s consumer markets where looks really do matter.
  • Smell and taste technology – no trace of ingredients following use.
  • Free from BPA and BPS – enhancing product safety. 

Specialty polymer advantage

There are four key arguments for switching from metals to high performance polymers that will help sell the benefits to the wider business:  

1. Stay compliant with food and drink regulations

There are so many regulations around food, drink, and potable water, that it can be overwhelming. The requirements are being constantly updated and becoming more stringent, outlining which materials can and cannot be used. One of the advantages of using high performance polymers is that the producers have already done most of the regulatory work for you, from advanced research and development to testing and securing the relevant certifications under U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and EU regulations.

Polymer producers also monitor changes to regulations and update their products accordingly.

As a result, there is a wide choice of compliant polymers that are ideally suited for food contact applications and can replace metal or glass in food contact applications. They also offer high temperature, steam, and chemical resistance, without compromising on the taste of food – food is not affected by contact with the material, even at high temperatures.

2. Improve product performance

Switching from metal to high performance polymers makes complete sense when you need to address a specific aspect of product performance. There are high performance polymers that can be used to produce the needles that repeatedly puncture the capsules in coffee machines, for example, or have the resistance needed for coffee machine grinder assemblies. 

The range of properties that these polymers offer means that you can choose the right materials to match your requirements, engineer parts precisely, and be confident that they will deliver high performance over a long period.

3. Make processing easier

Creating complex metal parts is difficult and can be expensive. Integrating functions may involve a range of operations, including welding, drilling, or bonding to bring together multiple parts. These add complexity, and can create potential weak points that can lead to warranty issues. Polymers bring the advance of injection molding, so bespoke parts can be created exactly as prescribed, even for complex and intricate shapes offering more design freedom. There are no weak points that could cause issues further down the line, and once the tool is made, the whole process is fast and efficient.

4. Improve aesthetics and differentiate products

Polymers offer aesthetic flexibility so designers can meet the demanding and ever-changing needs of today’s consumers. Polymers have an advantage in that they can be produced in different colors, including transparent, to enhance existing product design. Polymers can also be produced with different textures, for example, smooth and glossy finishes on external parts of high-end kitchen appliances, such as levers on coffee machines.

Weight is another property that can be added, for a substantial, quality feel to the item. For example, appliances made from high performance polymers can be made heavier to improve stability and give them the quality look and feel of metal products.