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A 21st century take on the pestle and mortar

01 May 2009

The stylish Flavour Shaker, which crushes, mixes and extracts flavour from whole spices for rubs and marinades, was originally the brainchild of chef, Jamie Oliver. He took the idea to cookware specialist, William Levene who, in turn, approached Sabic Innovative Plastics for some materials and processing expertise

The novel design of Jamie Oliver’s Flavour Shaker created a number of material challenges for Sabic Innovative Plastics. Inside the shaker is a hard ceramic ball that crushes ingredients as it repeatedly beats against its walls, and a high-performance material was necessary to withstand the resulting impact and abrasion. And from a usability standpoint, the shaker needed to be transparent, enabling the user to observe the results of the blending process. A variety of colour choices was needed for future product developments, and because it was going to be used with food, the shaker had not only to be dishwasher safe but also able to tolerate prolonged storage in a refrigerator.

In the end, William Levene selected Sabic’s Xylex resin, a food-friendly polyester alloy offering transparency, high impact tolerance, ease-of-moulding and good chemical resistance properties; and thanks to Sabic’s colour-matching service in the Netherlands, it can be produced in a range of shades. Head of design and product development at William Levene, Andrew Thornton was convinced that Xylex was going to prove the best choice of material for this application.

Sabic provided a number of value-added services to William Levene, including global application development support and rapid delivery of the resin to speed the product’s time-to-market. Several lab and field tests were conducted, including mould flow analysis, and chemical and dishwasher resistance testing.

In addition, Sabic helped commission the mould tools and provided on-the-spot colour matching of samples presented by William Levene. Sabic prides itself on its colour-matching and colour management services, and its ability to offer the services of specialists to help designers develop custom colours and textures. The resin supplier also helped William Levene identify local moulders to avoid unnecessary shipping delays and thus bring the Flavour Shaker to market more rapidly.

Xylex resin brought some key benefits to the Flavour Shaker application, not least being its US FDA and EU FC compliance. The material is unusual in that it offers both clarity and impact resistance in the one material, as well as being resistant to common food items such as olive oil and vinegar and the staining effects of food items such as curry and tomato. These properties help prevent breakdown, cracking or staining, while the material’s detergent stability ensures that the Flavour Shaker will last for at least 500 dishwashing cycles.

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