Cotton Conveyor Belts – Everything You Need to Know

About Cotton Conveyor Belts

Cotton conveyor belts are predominantly in the food and baking industries. The cotton conveyor belt is seen as the go to belt medium food production conveyor requirements due to it’s array of key features. These key features suit requirements from manufacturers around the form of the belt, having an ‘endless’ seam, long lifespan and high air permeability.

For baking biscuits and crackers, cotton belting is used as the sole solution for key areas within the biscuit production process (outlined further in this article). The key features of the cotton belt is it’s ability to be woven differently depending on the biscuit production requirements. This can compliment the moulding extraction process and the release process during the key stage of biscuit production whereby the dough pieces are moved from the moulding roller to the cooking belt.

Cotton belts are used in this area in particularly due to their ability to absorb moisture, and work well with the pull and release of doughs depending on their oil depth and density. 

Traditionally, cotton conveyor belts are deemed to provide moderate strength, and are high absorbing and high in bulk. The belt is plied on multiple occasions, and this increases the bulk of the belting on applications where resistance is key, but strength is not.

The cotton conveyor belt is typically spun by warp and weft (transverse weaving) cotton fibres. This particular type of weave is referred to within the industry as a ‘plain weave’ which is the standard weave within biscuit manufacturing as it provides the belting with balanced extraction and release features, along with providing a good level of air permeability.

Cotton belting is most suitable for shorter distances and lower transmission capacities. It is not a belt made for heavy duty conveying.

What is a Cotton Conveyor Belt Made of?

Cotton conveyor belts are made specifically from food grade standard (FDA) cotton yarn. Depending on the industry you are in, the type of cotton may be different. For example, synthetic woven cotton belts shouldn’t be used in food or hygienic industries as they are not naturally occurring and are generally made of petrochemicals.

Cotton belts use a specific cotton yarn that is farmed to perfection and operated under high-quality looms from Britain. The weaving process and further treatment helps in the extraction of oil and fat rendering it perfect for the bakery and bread industry.

The belt also uses a coating (usually PTFE) to ensure a robust, and hygienic conveyor belt system is crafted. Cotton belting are also traditionally coated on the surface traction side of the belt to ensure strength and long life span of the belt.

What are the Main Industries that Cotton Conveyor Belts are Used In?

Conveyor belting is usually made to order, and specific to industry. Cotton belts won’t be used in Chemical, Pharmaceutical, printing or hygiene industries due to their ability to absorb and collect materials. 

Within health and hygiene, thermoplastic and modular belts are used. These are lightweight, but strong, durable, and easy-to-maintain belts that use plastics such as; PU, PVC and PE, which are easy to clean, and work in both high and low temperatures. 

Major users of the webbing belt have always been concerned that in due course a few fibers from the web belt might break from the woven belt and get in contact with the food being produced. This was also one of the primary reasons that a lot of companies moved from woven cotton belts to PU Belts.

Cotton conveyor belting is, of course, perfect for specific stages of food production. Cotton belts make for great rotary moulder belts and cooling belts; they have to be FDA approved by the US food standards authority in order to be fit for manufacturing and this has alleviated the concerns businesses had around the hygiene of the cotton belt.

Due to the methods of which the cotton is harvested and manufactured into a conveying system, the coton belt is best suited to both food production and transportation.

As of now, the main uses for cotton conveyor belts are for the biscuit, cracker and bread production. They are fungus resistant due to the pre-treatment process and coating driven into the yarn weave.  This manufacturing process ensures oil absorbed from the dough.

Rotary Moulder Section (Pre-Oven Stage)

The Rotary Moulder stage of the biscuit development is the pre-oven stage. This stage uses cotton conveyor belts with multiple ply that have a strong pull and release capability. The reason for this is cottons absorption properties which are better than those of nylon and other woven conveyor belts.
 
The cotton belt used at rotary moulder stage has a 6% absorption profile, 3% higher than that of it’s sister belts. This higher absorption profile allows the cotton rotary moulder belt to achieve a better pull and release functionality across key stages of the biscuit development process.
 
During the moulder stage of the biscuit making process, the rotary moulder conveyor belt is used to pull shaped dough pieces from the roll, and release them from the knife edge onto the next oven/cooking belt ready for the biscuits next phase in its production life-cycle. 
 
Throughout this process, cotton web belting is preferred as the best media for the transfer of the dough pieces. Webbed belting provides the correct consistency and and density in order to effectively trigger the pull and release of the dough pieces throughout the rotary phase. 

The Cooling Section (Post Oven Stage)

During the post oven stage, the cotton conveyor belting is used to cool the cooked biscuits.

Cotton belting is known to have higher air permeability properties than those of Nylon, and Polyester. The biscuits are put into the cooling tunnel, and air is transferred from underneath the biscuit through the cotton belt to penetrate the underside of the biscuit, maintaining equal cooling throughout the cooling process.

How are Cotton Conveyor Belts Made?

Cotton yarn is sourced from quality controlled units traditionally from British cotton farms. The cotton is then woven into the belt form. This process uses automatic power machining to ensure that the cotton fibers are woven in ‘strength’ form. This further ensures that the fibers will not come out when used throughout the full life of the conveyor belt. Due to this, whether the cotton belt is used at angle, plain or horizontal on the conveyor line, the fibers will always stay in tact despite the product load, making the cotton conveyor belt one of the strongest conveyor belts around.

The threads for cotton belting transverse to create the ‘hatch’ or ‘twist’ weave you traditionally see within the belting weave. From here, the ply treatment is applied, using up to three layers of ply coating. The conveyor belt, can also be manufactured to varying sizes depending on its principle purpose and conveyor requirements.

The belt is then put through a steam pre-treatment process to ensure that minimum contraction during usage is achieved. This part of the belt manufacturing process also allows the belt to remain fungus free when coming into contact with liquid based materials and this is a key characteristic of why cotton belting is so popular across food manufacturing for hygienic purposes.

To finish the belt, a post-treatment synthetic coating is applied which helps create a high-grip material. This allows the conveyor belt to pick up the material that is required for transportation.

The weave itself can vary in type (plain, twill, broken twill etc.) and the purpose of this is to adhere to the characteristic requirements from the belt itself (such as pull and release strength, absorption of oils etc.) The main characteristic requirements of a cotton belt are; strength, friction resistance, durability. These characteristics are usually chosen to ensure maximum extraction.

The overall function of the belt is to transport food and absorb oil and fat from the dough. The dough is then transported to the oven to make biscuits, bread etc.

Choosing a Cotton Conveyor Belt Manufacturer

It is extremely important when manufacturing your conveyor belt solution, that you understand the characteristics and requirements you need before manufacturing of your cotton conveyor belt takes place.

Briefing your belt manufacturer is key to the success of the solution provided. The beauty of ClipOn conveyor belts is their seamless weave, and ability to create not only bespoke sizes but also altering technical characteristics to fulfill the product manager’s dream. Fundamentally, ensuring you communicate what kind of weave, purpose, and sizing you need will ensure the best solution for your conveying needs and requirements.

Furthermore, ClipOn Engineers can also visit your site to conduct a survey to understand your needs and propose a superior state of the art solution.

With a strong customer base world-wide, we know how to make your production efficient.

More information on cotton conveyor belts

5 key facts about cotton conveyor belts

Cotton belts can be used across many verticals and mediums. Discover more about cotton belting and how you might be able to use it in your manufacturing process.

A guide to rotary moulder belts

Cotton rotary moulder belts are one of the key conveyor belts in biscuit production. These can make or literally ‘break’ your biscuit. Learn what you need to know about rotary moulder belts to ensure your biscuit dough is always superb!

A guide to biscuit conveyor belting

Learn the intricacies of biscuit production and the types of conveyor belts used during each phase of the biscuit making process.

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