Deli slicers are available in both manual and automatic varieties. With a manual model, the operator must move the cutter back and forth to slice products. These are frequently found in lower-volume sandwich shops, small delis, and restaurants as they give a precise cut that is dictated by the operator. Automatic models feature an electric motor to move the cutter back and forth, thus reducing the time, labor, and safety risk that comes with a manual meat slicer. This type of commercial slicer is best for bulk cutting. Because of this, they are typically found in grocery stores and high-traffic delis and eateries. There's often an option to turn off the automatic feature and use those slicers manually. Automatic units tend to be more expensive than manual models.
There are three ranges of blade size available for meat slicers: 9 inch small models, 10 inch medium models, and 12 to 14 inch large models. The blade size is a good indicator of what products the unit is made for slicing. Smaller 9 inch models can cut for less than a half hour at a time and are a good choice for fresh meats. They are typically found in manual slicers. The slightly larger 10 inch models can cut for more extended times than the 9 inch models, typically up to a full hour. Many models can slice softer types of cheese for a brief amount of time but are not recommended for heavier cheeses or for long periods of time. The 12 to 14 inch blades are the toughest and strongest and are designed to cut dense items such as frozen meats. These blades are found on the most powerful models and allow them to cut continuously. If you will be frequently slicing cheese, these blades are the only way to go. Because of their strength, 12 inch blades are the most popular blade choice.
Depending on what the user is cutting, the horsepower of the motor can be very important. Lower-powered models have 1/5 horsepower. While this is plenty for a small deli, this would not be sufficient for a high-volume restaurant or a grocery store. More powerful models have either a 1/4 horsepower or a 1/3 horsepower motor. These motors can be found in commercial slicers designed for more frequent use. The most powerful meat slicers have 1/2 horsepower and are found in the models that will be used all day.
Transmission Drive Type
Every commercial slicer is either driven by a gear or a belt. Belt-driven transmissions the most popular and are commonly used to build lower-powered models. They're the least expensive type, but eventually the belt will need to be serviced. Gear-driven transmissions are more rugged and are used in the most powerful models. While they typically won't require service as frequently as a model with a belt, the complexity of the gear system means that when something does go wrong, it costs significantly more to repair it.
All models are made from either stainless steel or aluminum. Lower-priced models are made from aluminum, which is durable enough to hold up to low and medium volume use. Besides being strong enough to withstand heavy use, stainless steel models are also easier to clean.
Many first-time buyers assume that any slicer they choose will be able to slice all the cheese they need. In reality, some models should be strictly used as a meat slicer because they're not equipped to cut cheese. Many slicers are rated by how much cheese they can slice a day, with some able to handle 30 minutes or less, while heavier-duty versions can slice as much cheese as you need throughout the day. Before you choose one for your business, make sure it is rated to slice cheese in the volumes you need it to.
New NSF Standards
If you are replacing an older commercial slicer, you will find that many newer ones come with several sanitation features your old one didn't have. Those have been implemented to comply with stricter National Sanitation Foundation standards for cleanability. For example, the sharpener, screws, and end weights are all easily removable to facilitate cleaning of these items. Also, you will find controls such as power buttons and knobs have been encased in an easy-to-wipe-clean plastic to prevent bacteria from entering the areas around these controls.