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Guide to industrial blade coating options

In the industrial manufacturing sector, where the efficiency and reliability of blades dedicated to packaging, food cutting and a variety of industrial uses are critical, the choice of coatings plays a significant role. These are options that will have a profound impact on performance, durability and safety in these operational areas. 

Choosing the optimal coating for industrial blades means in-depth knowledge of the applications and machinery used, as well as the material itself used to make and coat, for example, bread slicers, but also packaging punches. The composition of the blade itself, along with the protective coating applied, are the main factors that determine cutting quality and durability. ECOGEO, with a professional team of experts, is always at your side to recommend the best cutting solutions and follow every step, from proposal to after-sales service: ask now for more information.

Industry challenges and the best cutting solutions

Wear and tear and daily high-volume use pose a significant challenge, which can lead to a loss of functionality and efficiency of industrial blades. To meet the needs of production and processing, in a variety of sectors from food to recycling, ECOGEO raises the bar in the production of trays, slicer blades and blades dedicated to general industry.

We use materials designed to be increasingly wear-resistant, of superior quality and specific to each blade application. The superior performance of the base material, combined with research into ever more innovative solutions, can improve the durability and longevity of industrial blades, thereby strengthening their performance in harsh operating environments.

In addition to the raw material, the coating is also essential. Applying wear-resistant coatings to the surfaces of industrial knives and blades serves to increase performance, durability and provide greater strength. With specific coatings, industrial blades can withstand the rigors of their intended applications while maintaining maximum operational efficiency over time.

The coating of industrial blades: the materials used

Blade coatings have immense utility in a myriad of industrial applications. By strategically modifying the material properties of the blade body, without compromising the inherent strengths of steel or corrosion resistance of stainless steel, coating becomes indispensable for improving operational efficiency and longevity. Among the most common benefits of coatings to blade surfaces are the prevention of adhesive and dirt buildup and the prolongation of overall tool life, i.e., the increased resistance to friction given by the contact between the blade and the processed product, which causes earlier blade wear.

With our extensive experience and commitment to exceeding customer expectations, we often offer coatings to blades to ensure they meet the rigorous demands of industrial operations. Let’s find out which materials are most commonly used and their benefits.

Titanium nitride (TiN)

Titanium nitride (TiN) stands out among industrial blade coatings because of its exceptional ability to substantially improve surface hardness and wear resistance. Among the most widely used materials by manufacturers of machine blades, TiN coating proves invaluable in achieving sharper cuts, especially in machining operations characterized by high temperatures, prevalent in the packaging and converting industries. Approval for food contact further emphasizes its versatility, ensuring safety and efficiency in food applications. In fact, TiN meets EN 10993 standards for biocompatibility and EU 1935/2004 for food contact.

The application of TiN involves a sophisticated Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD), in which titanium nitride is vaporized in an inert atmosphere and then laid on the surface of the blade, forming a tough ceramic coating ranging from 1 to 1.5 microns thick. This coating, when properly applied, gives the blades considerable hardness and strength. In fact, TiN-coated blades boast hardness levels of up to 85 on the Rockwell C hardness scale (RC), ensuring long-lasting performance and longevity even under the harshest conditions.

In addition to its exceptional hardness, TiN coating has a low inherent coefficient of friction, which not only promotes cleaner cuts but also mitigates the buildup of molten plastic or sealant on the blade surface common in high-heat applications. This characteristic is especially important in industries where precision and consistency are critical, such as packaging and converting.

These properties make this coating an ideal choice for strengthening the cutting edge and reducing blade surface friction.

Titanium carbonitride (TiCN)

Titanium carbonitride (TiCN), a coating comparable to TiN in terms of hardness, is distinguished by its superior abrasion resistance and reduced coefficient of friction, making it highly sought after in industrial blade applications. Unlike TiN, TiCN undergoes a chemical deposition process, which ensures a solid bond with the blade surface, improving its longevity and durability. This ensures that TiCN-coated blades can withstand the harshest operating conditions, offering exceptional resistance to chipping, flaking or blistering, surpassing the capabilities of TiN coatings, however good.

TiCN coatings also benefit from suitability for use in food processing applications. This regulatory recognition underscores the reliability and safety of TiCN coated blades, making them indispensable in a variety of industrial, packaging and food processing sectors. From precision cutting in manufacturing environments to ensuring compliance with stringent food safety standards, TiCN coatings are the evolution of TiN due to the presence of carbon, which further reduces the coefficient of friction while increasing corrosion resistance. TiCN is ideal for HSS tools for drilling.

A notable advantage is its uniform thickness, which ensures consistent and reliable performance across the entire surface of the blade. This uniformity not only improves cutting accuracy, but also helps extend tool life.

The exceptional durability translates into significant cost savings and long-term productivity gains, making TiCN a valuable investment for companies aiming to optimize operational efficiency and minimize downtime. In addition, due to its hardness and toughness properties, TiCN coating is particularly useful for blades intended for situations that require high cutting speeds, such as cutting hard materials such as steel, stainless steel, cast iron, and other softer materials such as brass and plastics.

Diamond Like Carbon (DLC)

Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coatings are one of the best choices in industrial blade technology, offering unmatched levels of hardness that surpass even titanium-based finishes. Through the use of a plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition process, DLC coatings undergo transformative fusion, binding densely “packed” carbon molecules onto the surface of the blade. This application imparts extraordinary abrasion resistance, setting a new standard of performance.

The exceptional properties of DLC coatings make them ideal for multiple applications in heavy industry as well as food processing. DLC-treated blades exhibit remarkable clean cutting ability, enabling precise and efficient processing of materials in many different areas. In addition, the inherent corrosion resistance of DLC coatings ensures the longevity and reliability of the blades, even when subjected to harsh and corrosive conditions.

DLC coatings also offer unparalleled performance and durability in food processing areas, where hygiene and safety are paramount: Diamond Like Carbon (DLC)-treated blades provide a reliable solution, ensuring clean, contaminant-free cutting operations.

Teflon

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known by the brand name Teflon, has radically transformed industrial blade coating technology due to its exceptional nonstick properties and low coefficient of friction. This Teflon nonstick coating represents a specially designed “reinforced” version for industrial applications, similar to that found on consumer pans but optimized to meet the most stringent requirements of the processing and packaging industries.

With a polymeric nature, PTFE coatings excel in food processing applications where cleanliness and hygiene are of utmost importance. Due to its non-stick properties, PTFE prevents the accumulation of food residue and general debris on blade surfaces, ensuring smooth and uninterrupted cutting operations. Compliant with current regulations, FDA 21 CFR 175.300, EC Regulation No. 1935/2004 and EU Regulation No. 10/2011, Teflon coating is an indispensable resource in food processing and packaging industries. 

In fact, it is one of our customers’ preferred options for slicer blades, especially in the area of cutting baked goods such as rusks, or cheese and deli meats.

In addition, PTFE coatings improve the durability of blades by reducing the risk of premature wear and extending their service life through resistance to most chemicals.

It is important to note that there are several Teflon coating formulations, each with specific properties that can affect the performance of the steel blade. These formulations can introduce benefits such as increased wear resistance, improved bonding and cohesion, and optimized release properties. The choice of coating type will depend on the specific needs of the use case, with the goal of maximizing blade performance without compromising its functionality.

Finally, it should be considered that the application of Teflon nonstick coating typically involves a thickness of 0.0025 to 0.010 centimeters, a factor that may slightly affect the sharp edges of the blade and the fit in the machine. Therefore, it is critical to carefully balance the advantages of the coating with the specific requirements of the machinery to achieve the best overall result.

Chrome plating

Chrome plating continues to stand out as an economical solution and for high value for money in the goal of increasing blade hardness and corrosion resistance in the industrial sector. While exhibiting relatively lower levels of hardness than titanium- and carbon-based coatings, chromium plating offers advantages in durability and ease of maintenance. This intrinsic resilience makes it an interesting choice for companies seeking to balance performance and affordability.

Widely used in both the consumer goods and industrial sectors, chrome plating finds wide utility in applications characterized by fast-paced environments and high temperatures. Its ability to withstand the rigors of these demanding conditions makes it an ideal choice for manufacturers operating in a variety of markets.

Benefits of chrome plating for blade coatings include ease of cleaning, which simplifies maintenance procedures and ensures that tools remain in optimum condition over time. This combination of durability, convenience, and ease of maintenance solidifies chrome plating’s position as a reliable and practical choice for improving blade performance.

Alticrome

Alticrome represents an innovative coating designed to ensure high performance in multiple industrial applications. This coating combines the characteristics of its different elements: aluminum, titanium, and chromium. Characterized by a high oxidation temperature and a nanolayer structure, alticrome offers very high resistance to corrosion wear phenomena. This property makes it particularly suitable for industrial environments subject to extreme conditions. 

In addition, the alticrome coating has excellent anti-adhesive power and a low coefficient of friction. These characteristics make it ideal for a wide range of applications, from use on aluminum die-casting molds to gear tools and stamping and forming dies, promoting sliding and improving the quality of finished products. 

It is, finally, a coating that ensures optimal scrap evacuation even at high cutting speeds, thanks to its low-friction properties.

Nickel 

Nickel plating is an appealing electroplating option that can offer increased hardness and corrosion resistance to industrial blades. While not reaching the hardness levels of chrome plating, nickel coatings offer significant improvements over uncoated alloys, making them a viable choice for a variety of industrial applications, including those in the food industry. The intrinsic corrosion resistance of nickel coatings ensures that blades remain protected from environmental factors, increasing their longevity and reliability.

However, it is important to note that nickel plating is relatively softer than chrome and therefore prone to scratches and surface abrasion. Therefore, to preserve the integrity of the coating and ensure optimal performance over time, careful handling and maintenance is essential. Despite this consideration, the benefits of increased hardness and corrosion resistance make nickel plating a practical and effective solution for companies seeking to optimize blade performance while meeting stringent safety and hygiene standards, particularly in food applications.

It is, in fact, essential to consider the compatibility of nickel plating with food contact. Although trace amounts of nickel are necessary for biological functions, excessive intake can pose health risks. Regulatory authorities have defined safe limits for nickel intake through food and water, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regularly updates risk assessments. Under MOCA Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004, food contact materials must follow strict guidelines to ensure that they do not pose a risk to human health or cause unacceptable changes to the composition or characteristics of food. Nickel plating, commonly used as an alternative to stainless steel on food processing machinery components, must meet these regulatory requirements.

When evaluating the suitability of nickel plating for food applications, two main considerations come into play: chemical transfer and mechanical wear. Chemically, nickel coatings exhibit high resistance to various substances, including dry foods, oily or fatty substances, and neutral aqueous solutions. However, factors such as the type of food, its physical state, pH level, temperature and contact time can affect the transfer of nickel ions to food.

Mechanically, nickel coatings boast exceptional hardness and strength, minimizing substance transfer due to mechanical wear and tear. The toughness of nickel plating makes it a preferred choice for many industrial applications where durability and longevity are critical.

Nickel oxide

Spray-applied nickel oxide powders improve blade corrosion resistance and promote friction reduction, with particular benefit in corrosive areas such as seafood processing. With improved wear resistance and controllable thickness, nickel oxide coatings offer an economical solution for high-volume food handling applications.

In addition to their outstanding performance characteristics, nickel oxide coatings offer a cost-effective solution for food handling companies. By improving corrosion resistance and reducing friction, these coatings help improve operational efficiency and reduce maintenance costs over time.

The ideal coating for every blade in every industry

Choosing the appropriate coating for industrial blades is critical to maximizing cutting efficiency, longevity and safety in a wide range of applications. Whether the goal is to achieve precise cuts in high-temperature conditions or to ensure corrosion resistance in rigorous industrial environments, such as food, each coating option offers distinct advantages tailored to specific needs. With our expertise in industrial blade coatings and our commitment to innovation, ECOGEO enables companies to improve their operations and achieve exceptional results. Contact us today to find out how our state-of-the-art coatings can improve the performance of your industrial blades and drive your business to success.

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