Choosing a Conveyor Belt: PVC vs. TPU

The food industry is evolving every day – integrating automation and machinery to make the processing and handling system efficient, safe, and sanitary.

View Our Product Catalog

With the ongoing change and competition prevalent in the industry, food processors must work towards improving daily operations with the right conveyor belt system to guarantee repeatable results.

When it comes to choosing the type of conveyor belt necessary for certain food applications, decision-makers are often left stumped between two options: PVC Belts or TPU Belts.

Choosing between PVC and TPU Conveyor Belts

The food processing industry is constantly working to package and produce all sorts of meat, dairy, fruit, and vegetable products.

There is a growing need for food processing belts to enhance industry applications such as water separating, deboning, descaling, slicing, and more.

Choosing the right belting solution can help maintain a level of efficiency during processing and packaging leading industry manufacturers to perform at high success levels.

However, doing so entails understanding the difference between the two major belt classifications in the industry: Polyvinyl Chloride vs. Thermoplastic Polyurethane.

PVC Belts

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) conveyor belts are standard belts in the food industry that can be used for basic applications across food processing and handling.

PVC has grown to become the third most widely produced plastic, known for its durability and ease of use.

A PVC-coated conveyor belt is best suitable for materials handling, bakery production applications, and meat, fish, and dairy processing.

These antistatic belts provide good chemical resistance and are resistant to hot water and steam, as well. Based on specific needs and conveyor belt manufacturers, there are also flame-retardant models available.

With limited abrasion resistance and limited resistance to solvents, oil, and grease, PVC belts are best suited for processing of fruits and vegetables and simpler operations with limited special requirements.

For those unaware of specifications for their food processing, PVC belts are a reliable choice and favorable in price compared to other conveyor belts.

TPU Belts

The other category of material for food industry conveyor belts is Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU).  TPU can be extremely useful for high-performance applications as it provides essential properties that many other types of similar polymers do not possess.

Although TPU conveyor belts are classified into different categories based on their nature, their general features include high resistance to wear and abrasion and high resistance to vegetable, animal, and mineral oils and fats.

These key factors make TPU Conveyor belts ideal for food industry use with highly demanding applications such as in the confectionary industry, requiring adaptability to temperature changes, superior abrasion, and easy-to-clean surfaces.

There are also different TPU options available based on needs such as belts with better resistance to hydrolysis and improved flexibility at lower temperature or belts with higher resistance to thermal oxidation.

TPU belts offer smooth surfaces to reduce bacterial deposits and ease the belt cleaning process. Although the material is relatively expensive for TPU conveyor belts, it is highly suitable for a range of modern food processes that have special requirements for direct food to belt contact.

View Our Product Catalog

There are a number of specialty food processing belts, each suitable for a specific application or point in the food process. From accurate material selection to unique belt customization, industry-leading belting solutions are available to create a safe and efficient workplace for any line of business.

Case Study: Improving the efficiency of a Food Packaging OEM

Belt Corporation of America helped one OEM in the food packaging industry increase production by making their equipment more efficient. In this case, the OEM had issues accommodating larger packages using their vertical form fill seal machine for potato chips.  Our role was to refine the belts on the equipment, making it faster and more productive.

plastic-bag-thumbA form fill seal machine is a three-in-one piece of equipment that makes bags, fills them with product, and then seals them. It relies on a pair of belts to pull the bags through the machine to complete the process. The problem with the OEM’s machine was that it could not maintain its normal speed of production with a larger bag. The OEM  was not making enough bags, and came to us looking for a way to address this issue.

To solve the problem, we selected a pair of belts with a high coefficient of friction and designed it with a row of vacuum holes. This reduced slippage made it easier for the distributor to increase the speed of production and create more bags. The belts were also more efficient at pulling the larger-sized bags through the bagging machine.

Belt Corporation of America has years of experience with using belts to improve and solve manufacturing issues. A positive outcome of our success with this project is that we are still in touch with this manufacturer today. As this case illustrates, we have the expertise and knowledge to design high quality, practical belts for a number of different applications.