Conveyor belts are essential to the food industry, but which is best - plastic or metal?

4 benefits of using metal belting in food manufacturing

Food manufacturing relies heavily on conveyor belt systems. Not simply because it's far more efficient than manual labour, but because it's considerably cheaper in the long run. Food manufacturing has to stand up to extremely stringent regulations, and processes differ greatly between different food items.

What works for raw meats won't work for baked goods, so it's important to invest in the right system. Conveyor belts can be made of numerous materials, but we believe that metal is the ideal option for food manufacturing. Here's why.

1) Metal conveyor belts easily meet sanitation requirements

A recall is an enormous headache for those in the food manufacturing industry. Not only can it be extremely expensive, it can also do irreparable damage to a manufacturer's reputation. Metal belts are capable of withstanding the extremely high temperatures and pressure required for sanitation. An additional benefit to metal belts is that they are nonporous. Plastic belts are easily chipped and scratched which can become ideal locations for hazardous chemicals or bacteria.

Is a metal conveyor belt ideal for bread?Metal conveyor belts are perfect for food applications, they can easily manage any temperature and are easy to sanitise.

2) Metal conveyor belts can withstand extreme temperature variation

Food processing will require cooking or cooling, and metal excels in both of these areas.

In addition to sanitation, the heat resilience of metal gets extra points for functionality. Some applications of food processing will require cooking or cooling, and metal excels in both of these areas. A thermal expansion coefficient dictates how a material can expand, contract or otherwise change shape with temperature fluctuations. Most metals have a fairly low coefficient, meaning they retain heat when subjected to temperature change. Plastic can easily melt, warp or simply break during processes that metal will roll through easily.

3) Metal conveyor belts are less environmentally taxing

While virtually no manufacturing operation is without a carbon footprint, plastic is far more taxing on the environment to produce. Plastics are made from petroleum, which isn't exactly the poster child for sustainability. While the production of metal does result in pollutants, the sector has made strides in recent years.

4) Metal conveyor belts offer great flexibility

We don't literally mean the ability to flex, but rather, there is a metal solution for every pain point in food manufacturing. Metal conveyor belts generally have a greater ratio of open area which means they are ideal for baking, cooking, or any application where drainage is important. Furthermore, metal belts can be used effectively in conveyors with singular or multiple tight turns, which reduces the need for manual transferral to another belt.

Locker Group manufactures conveyor belts to any width or length, capable of withstanding temperatures between -250 and 1200 degrees celsius. Our belts are assembled in modules to simplify the maintenance process. Whatever you're cooking, Locker Group has the belt for you.

Get in contact with Locker Group today
Painting your metal products is much easier than you might think, as long as you do the right prep.

How to paint your metal products

We've talked about the myriad of uses for welded or woven wire mesh and perforated or expanded metal before, but what if you need to paint these materials? It can add a new dimension to a completed project, whether making them stand out from, or to more cohesively fit in with, an environment. Thankfully, painting your metal products isn't difficult, but there are a few things you should know going in.


To start with you'll want to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What kind of metal are you painting?
  • How does this metal need to be prepped for paint?
  • What are the environmental conditions the paint will need to withstand? 

These questions will help you determine what kind of coating you need to use, and what the surface will need before you approach it.

Ferrous metals are those that contain (or are derived) from iron. These materials are far more susceptible to rust, and will begin to do so as soon as they are in contact with moisture. The first thing you should do with ferrous metals is remove any existing rust. Even if your sheet is brand new, it's worth brushing or sanding the surface once over as a precaution.

Aluminium and galvanised metal will require a thorough wash and rinse to remove oil, dirt, and in the case of galvanised metal, zinc chromate leftover from the galvanising process.


Ferrous metals need to be primed as soon as you've prepped the surface. Because it's so easy for these materials to rust, it's best to reduce the time they are exposed to moisture. You'll need to use a rust-inhibiting primer here, and to stay on the safe side it's recommended you do two coats. For galvanised metal you should use a corrosion-inhibiting primer because it's less susceptible to rust.

Aluminium (generally) falls into two camps. If it's anodised, you'll only need to make sure it's clean before painting. If it's not anodised, you'll want to make sure any oxidation is removed. From there, you can treat it as essentially ferrous- it must be primed as soon as possible to prevent the surface from being corrupted.


In terms of top coat, the best bet is to use an exterior latex acrylic paint. This is not the only paint that can be used, but it's likely it will suit the application of metal quite well, and will last longer than other types. It should be available in either a spray can or in larger quantities if you'd prefer a brush or roller. It's recommended you use a spray for more complex or detailed profiles.

Direct-To-Metal (DTM) coatings are also available, which basically mix the primer in with the topcoat for direct application. This can work well, but make sure you check that the DTM you're using will work for your application (both the type of metal and the conditions it will face).

For more information about perforated or expanded metal and woven or welded wire mesh, get in touch with the team at Meshstore today.