Carefree clean coatings? A tough nut to crack!
The news from Fraunhofer ISC researchers at HANNOVER MESSE 2016 is music to allergy sufferers' ears - their new special coating might soon mean an end to the warning "may contain traces of nuts".
Food manufacturers have to clearly identify any allergenic ingredients on their product packaging. And because manufacturing processes often mean the incidental presence of allergens cannot always be ruled out, more often than not food producers also opt to print a catch-all warning, too - such as the very familiar "traces of nuts" advice. This can make it very difficult for allergy sufferers to find guaranteed allergen-free foods. But it seems that researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC might now have cracked this tough nut in their favor. At HANNOVER MESSE 2016, they are exhibiting special ultra-thin coatings with outstanding anti-adhesive properties that are entirely suitable for use in manufacturing systems.
The Fraunhofer ISC has long been involved in the development of functional coatings for a wide range of applications. A prime example is its dust-repellent coating that keeps the windows of Cologne Cathedral sparkling for ages without the need for painstaking cleaning. For the last six months or so, the team led by Walther Glaubitt at the Fraunhofer ISC has been examining whether these coatings would also repel other kinds of dust - and it seems that they do. Initial tests on materials used by printing ink and food manufacturers have produced very positive results. It seems that these newly developed anti-adhesive coatings from the Fraunhofer ISC could be used on the surfaces of front-line components to prevent the adhesion of particles that can only otherwise be removed by expensive cleaning processes. This would benefit the food industry by considerably reducing or even entirely eliminating traces of allergens in foodstuffs. The pharmaceuticals sector stands to gain, too. After all, a protective layer in their industrial facilities would make fuller use of expensive active ingredients by ensuring they go where they're needed - in the medicine - instead of sticking as residue to equipment. Similar benefits could be reaped by the manufacturers of colored powders and toners who need to ensure color purity for each new batch they process. The coatings could also be used in filling systems and storage containers. The Fraunhofer ISC is offering to collaborate with system engineers, filling facilities and manufacturers to develop suitable solutions for their applications, run customized tests and assist with integrating its technology into their production processes.