LEVERAGING STAINLESS STEEL FINISHES ON SANITARY EQUIPMENT

For many food manufacturers, the level of finishing on processing equipment may be prescribed by federal, state and local regulatory agencies. In sanitary applications, however, the finish as well as the material must also be designed for easy and reliable cleaning and sanitation.  Read the white paper to learn about finishes including: bead blast, passivation and electropolishing.

Mnet 154156 Apache Stainless2 784x392
LEVERAGING STAINLESS STEEL FINISHES ON SANITARY EQUIPMENT Leveraging Stainless Steel Finishes on Sanitary Equipment For many food and chemical producers, the level of finishing on process- ing equipment may be prescribed by federal, state and local regulatory agencies. In sanitary applications, however, the finish as well as the ma- terial must also be designed for easy and reliable cleaning and sanitation. Agencies require sanitary finishes to have a minimum RA (roughness av- erage,) but processors are seeing the advantages of exceeding regulatory compliance due to the decreased sanitation time and decreased bacteria risk proven with higher-end finishes. This white paper serves as an educational and informational reference to include: n Definitions of stainless finishes and measurement designations n An overview of surface textures of stainless steels n A guide to stainless steel finishes n RA comparison data by finish type For original equipment manufacturers, the level of complexity for stain- less steel fabrication of sanitary equipment is significant. Each industry requires experience and controlled processes for quality fabrication. Tooling, process and technique are very important. Discover the cleaning efficiencies and sanitation benefits on a spectrum of stainless steel finishes. © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation The process for sanitary stainless steel fabrication starts with the selection of the metal and handling of the material. The fundamental process of working with stainless steel with sanitary requirements includes careful handling to prevent contamination from the manufacturing environment and the use of protective surfaces throughout all processes. In sanitary applications, stainless steel equipment requires a sanitary finish. The term “sanitary finish” in general refers to a smooth, scratch-free, non-corro- sive finish. There are several mechanical and chem- ical finishes that can fulfill agency requirements for sanitary specifications. In choosing the type of finish, it is important to understand the definitions and crite- ria for how finishes are designated. Surface Texture The surface of the material including irregularities and deviations, including roughness and grain. Grit is defined as the size of the abrasive used in the polishing process. Typically coarse, lower grit numbers are associated with grinding and higher grit numbers are associated with polishing. Grit size however does not fully define the surface. RA (Roughness Average) A standard for an average of the peaks and valleys of the metal’s surface, measured in microinches or micrometers. RMS (Root Mean Square) is a machining standard used to diagnose machine operations and surface finish. The fineness of the finish and ultimate success of the sanitation effectiveness is measured in RA, the rough- ness average measured by height in millionths of an inch or microinches. A profilometer determines RA values of small surface variations and calculates their average to determine roughness. RA Surface Textures of Stainless Steel Finishes* Mill Finish 2B Mill Finish No 3 Finish No 4 Finish No 4A/Dairy Finish Bead Blasting Mechanical Polishing Electro-Polishing Smoother Rougher Microinches 1 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 + *This chart compares RA surface designations in a range of finishes. More precise RA values are dependent on the gauge of material. Refer to page seven (7) for more specific finish designations by gauge. 2 © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation There are two different methods for achieving a polished fin- ish. The first is mechanical. Mechanical polishing involves the removal of material using an abrasive, mechanical process. Typically, grit sizes of 120 and finer are used for mechanical polishing. The other method for polishing is to use a chemical surface treatment. Chemical treatments remove the outer layer of cor- rosion in the material to preserve the integrity of the metal. Below is a description of textures and finishes featuring both mechanical and chemical methods, commonly used to produce Apache’s tank and vessel processing equipment as well as the Mepaco food processing equipment line. Stainless Steel Textures & Finishes Mill Finish A Mill Finish has an unpolished, dull-gray, matte appearance. This finish forms the basis for supply condition for all stainless steel flat products, and also forms the basis for additional finishing operations. It is hot or cold rolled with a RA of more than 100 microinches, depending on the gauge of the material. (Gauge refers to cold rolled; plate is hot rolled material.) 2B Mill Finish This is a widely used stainless steel finish, com- mon in industrial, chemical and food applications. It is corro- sion resistant and has a typcial RA range of 40 (7 gauge) to 15 (16 gauge) microinches. No. 3 Finish The No. 3 Finish uses a 120 grit abrasive. It has a semi-polished finish with an RA range of 36 - 58 microinches. No. 4 Finish This finish uses a 150 grit abrasive, and shows a polished, brushed surface. The RA range is 29 - 40 microinches. No. 4 Dairy / 4A Finish For processing industries, the number 4 Dairy is required to meet the basic 3-A standards. It uses a 180 grit and has a RA range of 18 - 31 microinches. Bead Blasted The process of bead blasting utilizes bead material such as glass, ceramic beads or dry ice to produce a non-directional, textured surface with a soft satin appearance and low-reflectivity. The finer the blasting media, the more corrosion resistant the surface performance. The RA values are typically greater than 45, but are dependent on the blasting process and the stainless material. Comparison Chart ...next © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation 3 A profilometer (RA meter) is used to measure the roughness average of peaks and valleys in stainless material. Stainless material with a mill finish has a rough, dull and non-uniform appearance. Mechanical polishers use an abrasive material (measured by grit coarseness) to create the finish. Providing a matte appearance, Apache has experienced results in improved RA smoothness after the pickle passivation, descaling process. MECHANICAL FINISHES The Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation Family ASME Tanks . Small Vessels . Contract Manufacturing . Carbon Steel (Plover, WI) . Mepaco® Mill Finish 2B Finish No. 4 Finish No. 4A Finish Description (Mill finish - Plate) The baseline for comparison, this is unfinished steel in basic supply condition. Applications Structural Sanitation Environment None - not used in food contact areas RA >100 microinches Depending on material Caution Does not meet sanitary, food contact or processing finishing requirements Description (2B Finish -Gauge) Common corrosion resistant, heat resistant, smooth, (not brushed) steel Applications Material handling, processing, direct food contact Sanitation Environment Suitable for caustic sanitary wash down procedures RA 36 (7 gauge) to 15 (16 gauge) in microinches Caution Note that 2B finishes can have the same RA as higher end finishes depending on gauge, compare econo- mies when making material decisions unless otherwise required by compliance factions. Description Characterized by short, polished brushed lines Applications Used in clean rooms and in food processing equipment Sanitation Environment Suitable for caustic sanitary wash down procedures RA 29 to 40 microinches Caution Note that a No. 4 finish is not compliant for 3A standards; a 4A finish will satisfy RA requirements for the Dairy/ Cheese manufacturing industy. Description Also characterized by short, polished brushed lines, the 4A finish uses a finer grit polish Applications Used in clean rooms, processing equipment, used in Pharmaceutical industries and complies to 3A Dairy standards Sanitation Environment Suitable for caustic sanitary wash down procedures RA 18 - 31 microinches (3A standards require 32 or less) Caution Welds are also required to be ground to a No. 4A finish to meet 3A Dairy standards 4 © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation CHEMICAL FINISHES Bead Blast Passivation Pickle Passivation Electro- Polishing Description A uniform, non-directional, low-reflective surface; bead blasting can be mechanical or chemical (dry ice) Applications Used when a uniform finish is desired in structural, material handling or food handling applications Sanitation Environment Bead blasting on common 304 and 316 stainless material is suitable for caustic wash down procedures RA >45 depending on blasting process Caution Bead blasting is not necessarily a smooth finish, the RA and smoothness depends on the stainless material used, the fineness of the blasting media and the blasting process. Description A chemical (typically nitric or citrus acid) treatment that produces a formation of a protective passive film on stainless steel Applications Most stainless steel material is passivated, polished or treated in some way to prevent corrosion; passivation may also be a federal specification Sanitation Environment Passivated stainless material can withstand caustic wash down procedures RA RA values have no significant improvement after passivation* Federal Specification No. A-967 Description Also referred to as descaling, pickle passivation removes the scale and leaves a clean matte finish free from contamination Applications Used in pharmaceutical industries as a federal specification and in food processing industries to reduce food safety risk Sanitation Environment Suitable for caustic, aggressive sanitary wash down environments RA Depending on material, pickle passivation can result in up to 25% increased smoothness measured in RA* Federal Specification No. A-380 Description Surface metal is dissolved, removing all embedded contaminants, creating a smooth, mirror finish Applications Used in pharmaceutical in- dustries as a federal specifi- cation and in food processing industries to prevent bacterial attachment and reduce food safety risk Sanitation Environment Highest grade of passive surface available, can be subjected to long term caustic wash down RA Depending on material, electropolishing can result in up to 50% increased smoothness measured in RA* Federal Specification No. B-912 5 Caution Chemical passivation is a protective treatment, not a descaling process. Caution Partner with expert finishing specialists who perform the recommended procedures for best results. Caution Partner with expert finishing specialists who perform the recommended procedures for best results. *Apache In-house finishing before/after tests; results vary depending on stainless material. Passivation Passivation is the removal of excess iron or iron compounds from the surface of stainless steel by means of a chemical, typically an acid based solu- tion. Unlike pickle passivation, no metal is removed from the surface during the process. The process has little affect on the RA values of the stainless material being passivated. Pickle Passivation is the immersion of the metal in a pickling bath or coating the material with pick- ling solution, such as nitric-hydroflouric acid. The process removes both metallic contamination and heat-treating scales. Pickle passivated stainless steel has a matte appearance. Apache’s tests have confirmed improvements up to 25% in RA read- ings on material that has been pickle passivated. Electropolishing Electropolishing is an electro- chemical process that removes surface materi- al from stainless steel. The process includes an immersion of the stainless steel component into a temperature controlled bath of electrolyte that is charged with a DC power supply. Electrolytes used in electropolishing are concentrated sulfuric and phosphoric acid solutions. The finish has a mirror appearance. Apache’s before/after tests have shown improvements in RA smoothness up to 50%; results vary depending on stainless material. While surface standards such as 3-A, requires smooth, impervious material, free of cracks and crevices, often processors need to choose the finish that meets those requirements with the best decision that fits their cleaning processes, risk fac- tors and overall business objectives. Below is a study, conducted at Apache, that com- pares high-end finishes under 200X magnification. It shows the RA smoothness in four finish examples of 304 Stainless Steel. In the study, the Electro- polished finish is more than six times smoother in RA readings than the Bead Blasted finish. These findings are only significant to the processor if smoother finishes provide the benefit to cleaning and sanitation in their manufacturing processes. SURFACE SMOOTHNESS TEST UNDER 200X MAGNIFICATION 304 Stainless Steel 2B Finish 15 - 17 RA (12 gauge) 304 Stainless Steel Electropolished Finish 5 - 6 RA 304 Stainless Steel 2B Finish 20 - 30 RA (10 gauge) 304 Stainless Steel Bead Blast Finish 35 - 45 RA 6 © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation REFERENCE GUIDE Steel & Finish Info Sheet FINISH DESIGNATION 1-9 RA (1-10 RMS) #8 4-13 RA ( 5-15 RMS) 2B (16 Ga. Sheet) 9-18 RA (10 - 20 RMS) 2B (14 Ga. Sheet) 13 -22 RA (15-25 RMS) 2B (12 Ga. Sheet) 18-27 RA (20-30 RMS) 2B (11 Ga. Sheet) 18-31 RA (25-35 RMS) 2B (10 Ga. Sheet) 22-36 RA (25-40 RMS) 2B (7 Ga. Sheet) 10-16 RA (11-18 RMS) #7 (320 Grit) 13-27 RA (15-30 RMS) #6 (240 Grit) 18-31 RA (20-35 RMS) #4 Dairy (180 Grit) 29-40 RA (32-45 RMS) #4 (150 Grit) 36-58 RA (40-65 RMS) #3 (120 Grit) 49-76 RA (55-85 RMS) 2D (80 Grit) STAINLESS STEEL GAUGE CHART Gauge Decimal Size 28 .015 26 .018 24 .024 22 .030 20 .036 18 .048 16 .060 14 .075 13 .090 12 .105 11 .120 10 .135 8 .165 7 .1874 Since stainless steel resists corrosion, maintains its strength at high temperatures, and is eas- ily maintained. It is widely used in items such as industrial and food processing products, as well as medical and health equipment. The most common US grades of stainless steel are: TYPE 304 / 304L The most commonly specified austenitic (chromium-nickel stainless class) stainless steel, ac- counting for more than half of the stainless steel produced in the world. This grade withstands ordinary corrosion in architecture, is durable in typical food processing environments, and resists most chemicals. Type 304 is available in virtually all product forms and finishes. TYPE 316 / 316L Austenitic (chromium-nickel stainless class) stainless steel containing 2%-3% molybdenum (whereas 304 has none). The inclusion of molybdenum gives 316 greater resistance to various forms of deterioration. © Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation 7 Note: The thinner the gauge material, the more rolling processes and cold reduction the material is subjected to, which creates a smoother surface. References: The Fabricator, A publication of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl. ISSF, International Stainless Steel Forum ASTM, International Standards Worldwide USDA Agricultural Research Service 3-A, Basics of Sanitary Design Apache and Mepaco industry experts and reference documents Apache’s food processing customers have more discretion in choosing equipment finishes even in food contact environments. The type of food product, bacterial count, manufacturing function and sanitation procedures all have an impact on the requirements as well as the selection of equipment finishes. When weighing the advantages of food contact equipment finishes, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Research Service offers a study conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engi- neers on electropolishing and surface finishes. In the research, samples of stainless steel finishes were exposed to bacteria to allow growth. As microorganisms became attached to surfaces, they became more resistant to both physical and chemical sanitation practices. It was determined that out of eleven different finishes tested, the electropolished finish was the most resistant sur- face to bacterial attachment. About Apache The Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation employs experts and artisans in the fabrication of stainless equipment for a range of industries. Our expertise in high-end stainless finishes is shown on Apache’s tanks and vessels, and Mepaco’s food processing equipment used in the beverage, bio- technology, pharmaceutical and food processing industries. Passivation, pickle passivation and electropolish- ing processes are offered in-house by experienced technicians; there is no dependency on outsourc- ing. Apache provides finishing services on tanks, vessels and food processing equipment as well as contract finishing requests. Apache consists of four business groups: ASME tanks, portable vessels, contract manufacturing and Mepaco®. With modifiable options, Mepaco’s prod- uct line includes: thermal processing equipment, mixers, blenders, augers, dumpers, sanitary con- veyors and material handling systems. As a 100% employee owned company, Apache’s culture exemplifies continuous improvement, effi- ciency, innovation and commitment to our customer. OSHA | PIP (Process Industry Practice) | ASME & API-650 Phone: (920) 356-9900 or (800) 444-0398 E-mail: info@apachestainless.com Web: www.apachestainless.com 200 W. Industrial Drive | Beaver Dam, WI 53916 USA A portable vessel used in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry emerges from the electropolishing tank at Apache Stainless Equipment Corporation.
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