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 Need to locate heat filament to replace bad FoodSaver heat element
bsf  [Member]
2/6/2009 12:43:39 AM
Like a couple hundred thousand other FoodSavers in landfills around the world, my FoodSaver GameSaver’s heat element burnt out. I have the unit disassembled. All I need is a suitable heat element ribbon that probably costs 3 cents to manufacture. FoodSaver does not sell replacement elements. Ridiculous. Have any suggestions? I googled until my fingers bled and cannot find any company that sells heat element ribbons. I am considering cannibalizing a toaster if I can pick one up dirt cheap, but I am afraid the element I rip out will have different resistivity. I can not read resistance to a precision greater than 1 ohm w/ my meter. The resistance of the original element was probably ~6 ohms, or ~18ohms/m. Any suggestions? I have already checked local CraigsLists for units I could cannibalize. I reassembled the seal bar with a piece of solder wick replacing the element, but I did not even try it. It will draw too much current and get too hot. In addition, any suggestion on how I can reattach the nylon tape that covers the heat element, providing one side of the seal surface?
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bsf  [Member]
2/6/2009 10:33:10 AM
Found another meter. Using that and digital calipers, this is what I need.

Resistance Ribbon
Thickness:~0.07mm
Width:~1.40mm
Resistivity:~4.4ohm/ft = ~0.015ohm/mm = ~14.6ohm/m

This heat element failure is ridiculously common w/ FoodSaver brand vacuum sealers. Talked to a FoodSaver customer service rep, and she was absolutely no help. I believe, as is common, they simply want you to buy a new unit as opposed to providing service parts. Talked to a bunch of electronic and appliance repair shops this morning and they could not help. Even contacted a thermocouple and heat sensor manufacturer (Arklay S Richards), but they did not carry the ribbon I need, and will not have any until some client merits them producing or purchasing it. Even then, the minimum order would be $30 + S&H. I am not going to buy another new FoodSaver. There has to be a cost effective solution for this problem.
dq15  [Team Member]
2/9/2009 1:30:33 AM
This might help.... Or maybe try another search on ThomasNet...
http://www.thomasnet.com/nsearch.html?cov=NA&heading=73291007&sa=73250607&navsec=relbox

I wish you well because someday mine's gonna take a dump too...

Keith_J  [Team Member]
2/10/2009 5:30:43 PM
It doesn't need to be a ribbon, nichrome wire in the 0.006" diameter will do.
bsf  [Member]
2/11/2009 10:58:55 PM
Thanks for the replies. I think I need a more accurate meter to measure resistivity. I pulled the board out tonight to see if there were any adjustments for the timing circuit. There are not unfortunately. I have some concerns about using a ribbon that is not almost identical to the OEM piece. First, if it draws too much current I worry the timing circuit could fry or the transformer would fail prematurely. For that reason, I am hesitant to throw a ribbon in there that has a much lower resistivity until I am certain I will not be able to locate a close match. I understand that heat transfer to the plastic is a function of element, top surface area; time; clamping force; and element resistivity. I am not certain how much wiggle room there is in creating a good seal. The only variables I can work w/ are area (top surface) and resistivity. I do not believe a .006” nichrome wire will work. I think something wider is needed to create a suitably robust seal.
Keith_J  [Team Member]
2/11/2009 11:27:54 PM
The 0.006" nichrome wire has the same cross-sectional area as the original ribbon. So it should have similar resistance, IF the original is nichrome. Resistance INCREASES with temperature on most elements, this is what confers them with stability, the power consumed decreases as the radiative energy increases. If resistance were to decrease, it would burn out.

What cause the problem is the ribbon. While it can radiate more power due to the area, it also oxidizes rapidly. Since Cr oxides are insulators, lost material means more current through that area. And it burns out.

In any case, using a longer element than original, shortening until the power consumed is the same as the dataplate. Using a larger cross-sectional area will require you to use a much longer element, no biggie, just coil it around a 1/4" rod. Measure with any common kW meter.

I've done this MANY TIMES. I even replaced the burned-out mirror heating element on my car's mirror. Works GREAT and I upped the current a bit, it draws 1.4 amps instead of the specified 1 amp, the wire is good for it.
bsf  [Member]
2/12/2009 10:04:18 AM
Originally Posted By Keith_J:
The 0.006" nichrome wire has the same cross-sectional area as the original ribbon. So it should have similar resistance, IF the original is nichrome. Resistance INCREASES with temperature on most elements, this is what confers them with stability, the power consumed decreases as the radiative energy increases. If resistance were to decrease, it would burn out.

What cause the problem is the ribbon. While it can radiate more power due to the area, it also oxidizes rapidly. Since Cr oxides are insulators, lost material means more current through that area. And it burns out.

In any case, using a longer element than original, shortening until the power consumed is the same as the dataplate. Using a larger cross-sectional area will require you to use a much longer element, no biggie, just coil it around a 1/4" rod. Measure with any common kW meter.

I've done this MANY TIMES. I even replaced the burned-out mirror heating element on my car's mirror. Works GREAT and I upped the current a bit, it draws 1.4 amps instead of the specified 1 amp, the wire is good for it.

I am glad someone is interested in this little project. Thanks for taking the time to respond. When you say you have “done this MANY TIMES”, are you talking about vac-sealer repair? Unless you have actually used 0.006” diam NiCr wire to repair a vac-sealer w/ success, I do not think it would work. I cannot understand how it would create a wide enough seal to be robust. Some of the commercial sealers use A 3/’8” wide ribbon to create a nice, wide seal. Inaccuracy in resistant measurement could be a problem for me. Based on my crude measurement, I think my ribbon is most likely NiCr 80 (80/20 wt.%). I am still leaning towards continuing the search for affordable NiCr 80 ribbon with dimensions close to OEM unless your first-hand experience has shown 0.006” diam wire will work.

eta
FYI, the cross-sectional area of 0.006" wire and my OEM piece are not even close; 2.83 x 10^-5in^2 vs 1.60 x 10^-4in^2 respectively .
dq15  [Team Member]
3/4/2009 9:05:12 PM
Came across this tonight.... Maybe they can help

http://www.dougcare.com/packagingequipment/impulseparts.htm
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