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. These machines can also be used to process dairy and plant-based protein products depending on the consistency of the product.

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. Generally, meat is ground twice to ensure that fat is mixed well with the muscle tissue. Depending on the use case, the mincer plate usually 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. This is followed by a knife and a 13 mm (very coarse grind) plate. Another knife comes next, after which the system concludes with either a 3 mm or 5 mm plate, and a small distance ring to keep 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 for each system and thus cannot be switched between systems. The edge of each mincer plate has a notch, which holds the plate in place in the grinding house while the knives rotate together with the feed screw.

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

The choice between Enterprise and Unger cutting systems comes down mostly to what has been used in the past in different countries and the size of the machines. The Enterprise system has been the system of choice for countries such as the U.S.A., Canada, U.K, and Finland, while the Unger system is mostly adopted across the Continental Europe.

How to identify machine types

You can recognize Enterprise and Unger mincers by their product code. For example, LM-22/P and LM-82/P are identical machines other than 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 mixing spices and other ingredients to 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 plate hole size varies by the intended use case: a 2 mm plate gives a very fine grind that suits 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 ideal results, in the Unger system the plates and knives should be always kept in the same order and orientation e.g. after cleaning them. To keep the right orientation, set up the plates initially so that the text in each plate is faced the same way. Because the surfaces of the parts have minor 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. Plates and knives should be replaced in pairs, as they get worn during use to form a tight pair, and only replacing the knife results in poor grinding performance. Enterprise plates and knives are generally thicker and can be sharpened before a replacement is needed.

The Enterprise plate sits just at the edge of the grinding house, while in the Unger system a distance ring comes after the last plate. Wear between knives and plates shortens the grinding setup over time. Since the Unger cutting system has more surfaces between plates and knives wearing down, the setup gets in relative terms shorter over time.

In this article: