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how does a tube ice machine work


How Does a Tube Ice Machine Work?

Ice is a vital component in several fields. In the medical field, ice is essential for cold therapy or cryotherapy. In the food industry, it is essential to keep food fresh, cool, or frozen. For avid home bakers and cooks, ice is essential in cooling syrups and sauces, amongst other uses. Therefore, it is essential to know the basics of ice machines and how they work.

Types of Ice Machines

There are different types of ice machines in the market today. They include flake, nugget, and cube ice machines. However, the focus of this article is on tube ice machines. They produce cylindrical tubes of ice, which have significant advantages over other types: they are denser, last longer, and cool faster.

Tube Ice Machine Overview

Tube ice machines work on a simple principle of creating ice through a refrigeration process. The system comprises a compressor, ice maker, water pump, and condenser. Given that this is a refrigeration process, the ice maker requires electrical power to run.

The step-by-step process below gives a detailed understanding of how the tube ice machine works.

Step 1: Water Filtration

Before ice production can begin, the water needs to be filtered to remove any impurities. The water pump transports water from the storage tank to the filter. The filter removes any impurities that could adversely affect the ice quality.

Step 2: Cold Plate Freezing

In a tube ice machine, a refrigerant is circulated around a cold plate. The cold plate is a flat surface with an array of cylindrical holes. The refrigerant cools the holes to the point where a thin layer of ice forms around it.

Step 3: Ice Ejection

Once the thin layer of ice forms, the cold plate heats up slightly, causing it to contract. The contraction loosens the ice tubes, allowing them to drop onto a cutter grid. The cutter grid's wire mesh cuts the tubes into the desired size, which falls into the storage unit.

Step 4: Heat Transfer and Recycling

The ice making process causes the refrigerant to heat up. The heated refrigerant is then transported to the condenser, where it undergoes a heat exchange with water, causing the refrigerant to cool. The cooled refrigerant is then circulated back through the cold plate to repeat the process.

Step 5: Storage and Harvesting

The tube ice dispenses into the storage unit, where it stays frozen. The storage unit can be insulated to keep the ice frozen for up to several days. When required, ice is transported to the harvest bin for dispensation.

Advantages of Tube Ice Machines

1. High-Density Ice: Tube ice is denser than other types of ice, providing maximum cooling for a longer period.

2. Faster Cooling: Tube ice cools drinks or food faster due to its shape, which allows for more significant contact.

3. Compact Size: Tube ice machines are relatively small in size, making them ideal for fast food restaurants, bars, and cafes, amongst other busy establishments.

4. Reduced Maintenance: The tube ice machine's simple design means that it has fewer components than other types of ice machines, reducing the likelihood of breakdowns and lowering maintenance costs.

5. Flexible Applications: Due to their compact size and simple design, tube ice machines can be used in a wide range of applications, including remote locations such as on fishing boats.


Tube ice machines have revolutionized the cooling industry, providing a powerful, efficient, and reliable source of cooling. Through simple physics principles and refrigeration technology, tube ice machines provide the best possible cooling solutions, which are essential in our daily lives.


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