Slicing fresh and on demand has become more prevalent in today's foodservice operations.
Commercial slicers are generally categorized as manual, semi-automatic or automatic. This equipment utilizes a rotating blade on a movable carriage in either a gravity-fed angled or spring-loaded upright configuration.
While manual versions require unit staff to move the carriage, automatic models use a motor to drive this component.
Manual slicers for front of house use also are available and geared for on-demand slicing or lighter volume. With semi-automatic units, a secondary motor moves the product carriage back and forth.
Higher volume operations, such as schools, hospitals or sandwich shops, typically use automatic slicers. Users can adjust automatic slicer activity from 20 to 60 strokes per minute.
Vegetable cutters have slower RPMs and utilize sharp blades to help retain the cell structure of the product. This extends shelf life and produces a product with a higher quality appearance, taste and aroma. Users can choose from a variety of discs to replicate a number of hand-cutting styles.
Angled units drop food slices directly onto a receiving table while upright slicers typically use a lever arm to stack products in various patterns.
The bigger the slicer knife, the higher the motor's torque will be. The most common knife sizes are 12 inches and 13 inches. Smaller operations can make do with 9- or 10-inch cutting blades. Medium-duty slicers typically include 12-inch blades, while heavy-duty models have blades between 12 and 14 inches in size.
Although most slicers are constructed of either anodized or burnished aluminum, units are available that combine aluminum with stainless steel. Knife blades are typically constructed of hollow-ground, high-carbon steel, though some units include chrome-plated steel or hardened steel alloys.
Operators can choose from a number of slicer options. Top-mounted knife sharpeners offer easy access and added convenience. Full gravity feed food chutes are available on heavy-duty models. Slide bars on some slicers are continually lubricated during operation for smooth, easy carriage movement. Heavy-duty clear plastic covers offer added protection for slicers when not in use. Slicer stands and models offering noiseless operation also are available.