Industry Insights

What are Enterprise and Unger cutting systems?

Meat mincers and mixer grinders use either the Enterprise or Unger cutting system. Both systems use a feed screw that pushes meat through a set of rotating knives and fixed mincer plates. Mincers and mixer grinders can also be used to process dairy and plant-based protein products depending on the product’s consistency.

Differences between Enterprise and Unger systems

In the Enterprise system, a mincer plate comes after a single knife. The knife is sharp only on the side of the mincer plate. Typically, meat is minced twice to ensure that the fat is well mixed with the muscle tissue. Depending on the application, the mincer plate typically has a hole size of 3 mm (fine grind) or 5 mm (medium grind).

In the typical two-knife (or 5-piece) variation of Unger system, you’ll find a pre-cutter plate first. The pre-cutter is followed by a knife and a 13 mm (very coarse grind) plate. Another knife comes next, and the system ends with either a 3 mm or 5 mm plate, and a small distance ring to hold the set in place. The knives are sharpened on both sides.

In the one-knife (or 3-piece) variation of Unger, the last knife and plate are replaced by a wide distance ring.

Enterprise and Unger system plates and knives

The knives and mincer plates are specific to each system and cannot be changed between systems. The edge of each mincer plate has a notch that holds the plate in place in the grinding house while the knives rotate together with the feed screw.

Plates and knives are made of either stainless steel or tool steel. Tool steel has a higher carbon content, which makes it harder and more resistant to wear. Stainless steel, on the other hand, has a better corrosion resistance, which is important when grinding wet ingredients such as meat.

The choice between Enterprise and Unger cutting systems depends on which system is typically used in your country and the size of the machine. The Enterprise system is the system of choice for countries such as the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K, and Finland, while the Unger system is mostly adopted across continental Europe.

How to identify machine types

You can recognize Enterprise and Unger mincers by their product codes. For example, LM-22/P and LM-82/P are identical machines except for the cutting system and grinding house. Mincers are manually fed, while mixer grinders have a mixing arm that makes them self-feeding. The mixing arm also allows spices and other ingredients to be mixed into the ground product.

Enterprise Unger
Type Diameter Mincer Mixer grinder Type Diameter Mincer Mixer grinder
  53 mm LM‑5/P          
12 70 mm LM‑10/P          
22 83 mm LM‑22/P LM‑22/A H 82 mm LM‑82/P LM‑82/A
32 100 mm LM‑32/P LM‑32/A B 98 mm LM‑98/P LM‑98/A
42/52 130 mm LM‑42 LM‑42/A, LM‑42/280A E 130 mm LM‑130 LM‑130/A, LM‑130/280A
P: manual table models, A: automatic mixer grinders. Mincers with no letters are floor models.

The size of the plate hole varies by the intended application: a 2 mm plate gives a very fine grind suitable for emulsified products such as pâtés and smooth sausages, while the 3 mm size is a commonly used standard fine grind. Burger chains using high quality meat often use a 5 mm medium plate to preserve the texture of the meat.

Practical recommendations

For best results in the Unger system, always keep the plates and knives in the same order and orientation after cleaning them. To maintain proper orientation, set up the plates so that the text on each plate faces the same way. Because the surfaces of the parts have slight irregularities, the paired plate and knife surfaces grind together over time to form a tight fit. If there are gaps, the cutting performance will be poor.

In the Enterprise system, the supporting hub of the plate (see the image above) has to be placed outwards, not towards the knife to avoid damaging the plate. Always replace both the plate and knife at the same time. The plate and knife get worn during use and form a tight pair, and only replacing the knife results in bad grinding performance. Enterprise plates and knives are thicker and can be sharpened before replacement.

The Enterprise plate sits right at the edge of the grinding house, while the Unger system has a distance ring after the last plate. Wear between the knives and plates shortens the grinding setup over time. Because the Unger cutting system has more surfaces between the plates and knives to wear, the setup becomes relatively shorter over time.

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