The White and Covered Pail

It was used to contain pasteurized egg white. Now, we are using it as raw material and semi-finished product storage. I see some micro enterprise doing the same thing. In fact, I get this affordable idea from them.

white-covered-pail

I worked in medium scale company before. We were using the same pail as finished product packaging. Then, the empty pails were being returned to us for re-use.

I never know what kind of polymer it is. Based solely on my observation, it is relatively thick, strong and slightly flexible. I rotated it slowly and continuously, flipped it several times, but never found any clue. Polymer type is usually embossed somewhere underneath. This container has none.

It is resealable. Almost airtight seal. I have no device to test and prove it so “almost” is a safe term. Roasted cocoa nibs stays crunchy for over three months.

We are buying few every now and then. A 100 peso each in nearest public market. Eighty pesos each on depot and 50 pesos anywhere near the factory. We never buy in bulk so the highest acquisition price never matters. Plus, the public market is just few minutes away from our home.

Stackable and space saver when empty. I am stacking it three layers on full container without worries of fall over or the bottom container getting damaged. When empty and cover removed, it can be pile on each other to save space.

Label says, 20 liters capacity, for pasteurize egg white and other liquid ingredients I guess. As for our raw material, it holds eight to ten kilograms depending on average bean size.

On the good side, it is white, looks clean and pleasant on eyes. On contrary, It looks ugly when dirt and stains started adhering. Regular and thorough cleaning is necessary.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Melanger Now Runs on Solar Energy

As usual, like other electronic items I ordered, the solar panel came in a basic kit. Enough to get me started going off grid. I love to do the installation myself and also saving some labor. Imagine, the installation fee was 30% of kit cost.

It took me a day of testing all of the components integrity. Powering a LED bulb on second day. Running a laptop and 3D printer on third day. Then my ultimate goal on the fourth day. Running the chocolate melanger. It powered up nice and smooth.

At the moment we already depleted our cacao stock. I run the melanger empty for only 30 minutes. I could only run that long because running it on empty load is not ideal. I am expecting at least full eight hours run on good sunny days and five hours extension at night. Testing other production equipment will follow.

I think I should put on the product label something like this, “Made using renewable energy source, solar electricity”.

Having solar power system is not only about savings. It gives you the option to continue regular manufacturing process during line power outage. Because you own one, you never completely depends on local electric provider.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Solar Energy to Power Food Machinery

Sun is free energy. Giving its own to specific area for over ten hours a day. Having the right tool, we can harness the sunshine to produce electricity. Enough to light our home, power refrigerator, television and use some luxury gadgets.

So why do we have to pay for huge sum of monthly electric bill? I don’t know. Better ask yourself!

Today, I just finished installing our very first solar panel system. It composed of 400 watts solar panels, PWM solar charge controller, 3 6SM deep cycle solar batteries and a 1000 watts pure sine wave power inverter.

solar panel control center

solar panel

I never expect it to completely replace the Meralco grid. I just wanted a kickstart in free energy revolution and reduce our electric bill to some extent.

Specifically, I wanted to power the melanger, which grind cocoa, without worrying about electricity cost. A batch of eight kilogram nibs needed 12 to 24 hours run time. Imagine how much will I save using sun’s energy. Then, savings mean additional resource to play with.

Running my DIY bean winnower and chocolate cooler few hours day are plus points.

When all said equipment are not in used. I intend to use excess energy to run a six cubic refrigerator, my personal laptop, few LED bulb at night and charge gadgets. This is specially true during power outage.

I intend to upgrade the system in the near future. Add more panels and batteries. Replace the solar charge controller and inverter with higher capacities. A wind turbine is a great option too.

The solar panel system and melanger were acquired thru DOST-SETUP.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Unbreakable Polycarbonate Bulb Broke

My daughter accidentally did what I hesitated to do. Test the unbreakable LED bulb to its limit. While playing with his older brother, she pushed the cabinet, where the portable lampshade was sitting. It was unplugged at that time. It fell to cemented floor from a height of about three meters. The supposed unbreakable light bulb broke. It broke to halves. The protective plastic covering separated from the electronic assembly.

broken-polycarbonate-bulb

With my fingers crossed, I tested the led assembly without the cover. It worked. No noticeable change in light brightness. Unlike the CFL and incandescent bulb, its cover has nothing to do to with the glow. It is meant to imitate the old incandescent shape and protect its element from external forces. Also, prevents careless humans from electrocution.

It contains no mercury, I guess. Additional point to its environmental friendliness. Consuming significantly less electricity is first in the list. I read somewhere about the E-waste movement. Making the parts, biodegradable – if possible, will make it more inclined toward the project.

The polycarbonate cover has no cracks and dents. I threw it on the floor and it just bounced like a ball. I took it outside and hit with hammer. I managed a dent but still no cracks.

The bulb weakness were the joints connecting the two parts together. They were thin, about a quarter of ordinary toothpick. The fall was hard enough to separate the two components. The bulb maker could look at this component for improvement.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

3D Printed Plastic Parts for Food application

I own a 3D printer. An FFF type, fused filament fabrication. I am using it for prototyping simple machines for food use. As I said “prototype”. I am switching to food safe materials as soon as I got it working efficiently.

There are several reasons why 3D printed plastics are not suited in food applications.

Heat

From my own observation PLA (the common filament) begins to soften at 100 C. Most heat application requires at least that much. The boiling is set to 100C, deviating slightly with place elevation. Sterilization usually heat plus increased pressure. I have the slightest idea of what is gonna happen with plastic if undergone these two forces. Pasteurization require gentler heat. It might be safer, it might be not. When in state of doubt, discard it.

Moisture

PLA has a bad reputation of absorbing moisture. Other types have more or less the same characteristics. Unless stored in airtight container with desiccator, its usable life for printing is only six months. Maybe shorter in areas of high relative humidity.

My theory is. If used as food container or anything that requires food contact, it might absorb water plus the flavor it carries. Then removal will be next to impossible. Lastly, using with other food items may cause cross contamination.

Colorant

3D printing filaments come in different colors. Food safety of those are unsure. Even if they use food approved dyes, reaction is uncertain. Every item and process should be tested thoroughly by regulatory agencies.

Crevices and Rough Lines

The rule of cGMP, surfaces should be easy to clean. 3D printed items have rough lines and sometimes crevices. Cleaning them sure is not easy. Food debris clinging to furrows will be carried over to next production batch.

Resin type 3d printing produces a much smoother surface with negligible lines. I have never seen one in close up so I cannot conclude on this.

small 3d printed plastic part

Brittleness

Strength is another issue. PLA is brittle. It will hamper production when it fails and will likely cause contamination too. There are other impact resistant filament but still not suited because of the several weaknesses stated above.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.