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Stainless Steel Drive Tapes Achieve Precise Motion Control in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Vaccine Production Applications

Jun 2, 2017 | Case Studies

A global leader in the design and manufacturing of automated machines contacted Belt Technologies seeking a solution for its vaccine production equipment. The company needed a set of drive tapes strong enough to lift a heavy metal door and resilient enough to resist the corrosive effects of the chemicals used in the vaccine production process.

Precise, Reliable, Sanitary Operation with Stainless Steel Drive Tapes

The client’s equipment design included a 180-pound metal door to seal the chamber in which vaccines are processed. To lift the door and allow vaccines to pass through, two drive tapes are threaded over a pair of 4” diameter pulleys with two 90-pound counterweights on each side. The machine would only be operated in low cycles, possibly only for 3–4 hours per day with several days of inactivity in between.

The drive tapes would need to be able to bend around the 4” diameter pulleys while also resisting the heavy weight of the door and its counterweights. Stainless steel is highly durable and non-stretchable, making it the perfect material choice for this application.

Importance of Stainless Steel in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Applications

The vaccine production equipment application also required clean room conditions in order to prevent contamination; chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and chlorine are often used in the vaccine production process. To prevent any of the equipment from corroding and potentially contaminating the product, all elements needed to be made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Stainless steel also presented the advantages of not requiring lubrication and not generating particulates, making it ideal for applications where maintaining a clean environment is paramount.

To further optimize the customer’s equipment for clean room conditions, Belt Technologies engineers designed a custom, laser-cut drive tape with specialized slots that made the drive tapes and pulleys easier to clean. The slots allow the cleaning fluid to drain more completely, preventing the buildup of bacteria in crevices or corners; they also make it easier to clean the surface of the pulley.

Collaboration Results in Custom Stainless Steel Belt Solution for Vaccine Production

Our engineers worked with the customer’s design team to identify production constraints and develop a working solution. Although larger-diameter pulleys would put less strain on the drive tapes and prolong their lifespan, the design could only support the smaller, 4”-diameter pulleys. The team at Belt Technologies worked to ensure that the drive tapes would have the strength and resilience to operate reliably. Since their installation, the customer has reported that the system accomplishes the task well and fits perfectly into the existing equipment and pulleys.

Would your automated equipment design benefit from the reliable strength and resilience of stainless steel drive tapes? We have the knowledge and experience to create custom solutions for virtually any automated application. Contact the experts at Belt Technologies today.

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