Pass the ketchup, please

A new french-fry machine uses a plastic composition instead of stainless steel for several mechanical components.

The 45-sec process takes specially treated potato flakes from a dry state to hydration and places the hot French fries in a cup.

The machine, made by Fryworks, Signal Hill, Calif., initially called for many parts to be made from stainless steel, but this was too costly because of the complex shapes. Tri Star Plastics Corp, Shrewsbury, Mass., determined that structural parts and mechanical parts such as self-lubricating bearings, cup and press plates, and roller assemblies in the cooker could be made of plastic. A plastic material could offer the necessary strength, reduce weight, and meet NSF, FDA, USDA, and UL regulations.

Tri Star engineers developed a compound suitable for more than 30 structural and mechanical components on the machine. The material, Ultraflon 41, is a polybutylene terephalate (PBT) that offers good wear resistance, high chemical resistance (especially to chlorine), good impact strength, low moisture absorption, and dimensional stability. Fryworks reports that test units in the field have produced over 70,000 orders with no breakdowns or service calls beyond preventative maintenance.