Soluble Material


One of Adept Animal Processing's core business is supplying the meat processing industry with contamination control products throughout the world. Renderers and pet food manufacturers have a constant battle trying to remove ear tags, gloves, clips and plugs in products they receive from processing plants.

Having been investigating and trialling degradable alternatives to traditional thermoplastics (polypropylene, PBT and Acetal) that are also commercially available for over a decade, nothing met our advanced criteria.

To be viable, degradable versions of our products must be:

  • Cost effective - The price has to be industry acceptable
  • Degradable in Water - Compostable plastics, PLA and the likes are unsuitable for our purpose, ideally the product is functional long enough to do its job then degrades quickly in process conditions on plant i.e. heat, movement and moisture.
  • Food safe - All of the constituents of the final product must be food safe, fit for animal consumption (pet-food savings and rendering by-products) as well as compliant to all global regulatory standards.
  • Processable - Due to the quantities involved, the material must be able to be injection molded at high speed in multi-cavity hot runner tooling.
  • Functionality - The mechanical properties (effectiveness) of the products need to be similar to that of conventional thermoplastics, yet set new standards for environmental impact.

Adept embarked on a journey to develop our own compound in order to meet our distinctive requirements. We started with lab scale trials to verify the feasibility of various fillers in an existing water-soluble matrix.

 

Once the concept of the finished formulation had been verified we then needed to find a way to make compounding feasible on a commercial scale. It became obvious, to have any chance of economic success, we would need to compound in house.

In 2013 we invested in our own compounder. The heart of this operation is a 27mm co-rotating twin screw extruder. Raw material is fed by 4 Brabender gravimetric feeders, 3 for powdered ingredients and 1 for the liquid plasticizer. Strand is extruded from an 8 strand die onto a 9m air belt and pelletized into moldable grains.

Today, we are capable of producing soluble material at 40kg/hour. So far, we have sold over 30 million soluble articles to satisfied customers across the world.

This equipment gave us flexibility in formulation and opened up a whole new area of product development that is not limited to the animal processing industry; the journey has only just begun.