If you’re a product manufacturer, then you must be aware of the finicky nature of certain materials and products. Water can be a major contaminant, and this is why manufacturers need to be especially careful with it.
Fortunately, one of the best ways to handle excess water content is through freeze-drying. In this article, we’ll look at the freeze dryer benefits, as well as why you might want to incorporate it into your manufacturing process.
The Benefits Of A Freeze Dryer
So before we go into much work, let’s begin by treating the major subject – what are the freeze dryer benefits, and why should you consider working with them?
So as we all know, the entire point of freeze drying is to take out the moisture in a perishable material to help ensure that it lasts as long as possible. The process is being used in different fields, with some of its benefits including the following:
Keeping Nutritional Value Alive
Easily the most prominent benefit of a freeze dryer is its ability to ensure that a product’s nutritional value is maintained. From vegetables to fruits and even medicines, freeze-drying ensures that nutrients don’t degrade, so you can rest assured that your product will be safe for consumption.
Making Products Last Longer
An extension of shelf life is another massive benefit that freeze-drying provides. A freeze-drying machine ensures that molds, bacteria, and more don’t grow in your product. This way, you prevent pharmaceutical contamination and ensure that your product lasts as long as possible.
Better Packaging Metrics
A freeze dryer’s ability to cut down on water content can also help you reduce the volume and weight of the material in question. As such, it becomes much easier to store and move.
You Can Rehydrate If You Want
Another interesting point among the benefits of a freeze dryer is that the products you use it with can be rehydrated to regain their initial texture and appearance pretty easily. So, you don’t lose.
Room Temperature Overall Stability
While placed at room temperature, freeze-dried products are very stable. This means that you won’t need to refrigerate them or use other special storage processes.
Cutting Down On Oxidation
Another benefit of freeze-dryer products offer is that they help to reduce oxidation. This helps to preserve the many sensitive components of your products from oxygen contact.
Use It Anywhere
Freeze drying doesn’t just work in one industry. As we’ll show later, the process can be applied to several industries and spaces, all of which focus on ensuring proper product quality.
Control The Process If You Need
As a manufacturer, another of the freeze dryer benefits you’ll love is the fact that you’ll be able to customize the products. All you have to do is control the parameters of the process, and you’ll be able to achieve full control over how the products turn out.
Applications of freeze-drying
As we said, several industries make use of freeze dryers to work. The tools have an impressive ability to preserve products, and this makes them especially prominent in some of the following fields:
Food Manufacturers, For Preserving Perishables
Considering that there are so many perishable food items out there, freeze dryers help to ensure that they can remain fresh. From vegetables to dairy products and even some complete meals, freeze dryers help preserve them all
Protecting Medicinal Products
Like we said, the use of a freeze dryer can help to ensure that pharmaceutical contamination doesn’t happen. Whether it’s for CBD gummies or gelatin capsule supplements, this process works for all.
The Tools Also Help Research
In the biotech and research space, researchers work with a lot of biological staples. We’re talking enzymes, bacteria, and more. Many of these materials are sensitive, and freeze-drying helps improve our ability to store and transport them.
Making Skincare Products For Everyday Use
We also see freeze-drying being used in the cosmetic industry to preserve the efficiency and stability of particular ingredients. From plant extracts to bodily vitamins and more, freeze-drying ensures that the products last long and remain efficient.
Military & Space-Based Applications
Freeze drying helps to reduce the weight of food. As a result, most food options given to military and space personnel need to be freeze-dried. The added freeze-drying benefits of longer shelf life and possible rehydration are also prominent here.
Preserving Historical Materials
Conservatories and museums can also use freeze-drying to preserve delicate items like documents and artifacts. This way, these items don’t deteriorate, and they can remain attractive for long.
Keeping Medical & Surgical Enhancers
Surgical instruments, diagnostic reagents, and much more can also be freeze-dried to maintain their sterile nature and stability. At the same time, we see the process being used in the production of tissue grafts and several other implants used in this space.
What Is Freeze Drying?
Freeze drying has become one of the most popular methods of preserving materials and substances. Some people call it lyophilization, and its main goal is to ensure that perishable substances don’t have to suffer at the hands of exposure to water.
With its ability to remove any form of water content, freeze-drying ensures that you can preserve the quality of your products. The freeze-drying process focuses on freezing the material properly and then adding a vacuum in there to allow the frozen water to undergo sublimation. This process causes it to move to vapor from ice, essentially skipping the liquid phase entirely.
In general, freeze-drying operates in three distinct phases:
First, The Material Is Frozen
As the name suggests, you kickstart freeze drying by taking the material and freezing it.
With this process, ice crystals are formed in the product’s structure. But, you need to be careful with temperatures so you can minimize the size of the crystals as much as possible. This way, you know you can preserve the material’s structure for a long.
The Initial Drying Phase
Once the material is frozen, you take it through the first drying phase. Here, you subject the frozen material to a vacuum. With a low-pressure environment, the frozen water is allowed to properly sublimate, moving from frozen water to ice.
Remember that you’d need to slightly increase the temperature in this step. Then, apply the heat to ensure that the process is done right, while you still maintain the material’s structural integrity.
Go Through The Final Drying
After the first drying step, you should see most of the ice being sublimated. Then, you go through one more drying phase to remove the remaining bound water.
In this phase, you raise the temperature even higher than the first phase, ensuring that any moisture left is taken out. Water molecules are also expelled, and you’re able to achieve the low moisture content that you need to package the final product.
How Does Freeze Drying Compare To Other Dehydration Methods?
Although it has become one of the most popular material drying methods out there, it’s important to note that freeze drying isn’t the only method to be used.
Let’s compare the benefits of a freeze dryer to some of the other prominent drying techniques
Freeze Drying vs. Air Drying
Air drying is another highly prominent process when it comes to taking out moisture content from materials. The process is renowned for being natural, as opposed to many other drying processes that rely on machines.
But, how does it compare to freeze-drying?
The Process Breakdown
For freeze drying, you essentially go through three processes – freezing, then two rounds of drying. On the other hand, air drying simply requires the material to be exposed to a flow of air, thus allowing the water to evaporate naturally.
How Well Do They Preserve Quality?
One of the many freeze-drying benefits is that it helps to maintain the original characteristics of the material – from color to structure to flavor and more. However, air drying can cause these characteristics to change – even down to the product’s nutritional content.
Will The Material Last?
The shelf life of the material tends to be longer when you’re working with freeze-drying. Mostly, this is because the process does a great deal to cut down on moisture content as much as possible.
Differences In Volume & Weight
Freeze drying often results in the material becoming lighter and more compact. This is another point of difference as air drying doesn’t necessarily do the same.
What Tools Are Needed?
In terms of equipment complexity, you usually have to get specialized tools for freeze-drying. This differs significantly from air drying, where you just need a suitable space to lay out the materials and let the air do its thing.
How Long Do They Take?
Another significant difference here is that freeze drying tends to be quicker than air drying. Considering that air drying involves letting the sun work naturally, you would most likely need to wait a while for the process to be complete.
Freeze Drying vs. Spray Drying
Finally, let’s look at a comparison between freeze drying and spray drying – another dehydration method that is used across industries such as pharmaceuticals and food. Both are different in how they operate and as you can imagine, their benefits will also differ
How Do They Work?
We’re already familiar with the three stages that make up freeze drying. With spray drying, however, you start with atomization, which breaks the material down into droplets.
Then, put the droplets in a drying chamber where the water is evaporated. You’ll be left with dry particles, which are the final product.
How Well Do They Maintain Quality?
One of the many benefits freeze dryer options provide is that they do well to maintain the characteristics of the material. For spray drying, however, you might notice some loss in color and flavor for your item – due to heat exposure being on the high side.
How Long Will Your Product Last?
Freeze-drying wins here too. It results in your product lasting much longer – a benefit that might not be so notable with spray drying.
Will Your Final Product Be Heavier?
For freeze-drying, this isn’t the case. However, spray drying can result in a denser, heavier final product, which could present transportation and storage challenges.
Will You Need Special Tools?
Indeed, special tools are required for both processes. So, you have to be mindful of that. However, spray drying tools tend to be less expensive. So, if cost is a major consideration, you might want to be mindful of this.
Which Process Gets Done Faster?
Spray drying wins here, it is much faster than freeze drying, although considering that freeze drying tends to offer more benefits, you might want to consider if speed is your biggest factor.
Freeze drying has emerged as one of the most sought-after processes when it comes to dehydration. And, by understanding its benefits, you can find how best to incorporate it into your operations.
If you need any more assistance, feel free to reach out to us at SaintyTec.