Mixing is possibly the oldest and most widely used of all technical processes. It is carried out in virtually every industry handling or processing powders with other ingredients and there are very few products used in everyday life that don’t have a mixing process as part of their manufacture. Mixing can therefore be considered as one of the essential technological processes. To avoid problems of poorly or unmixed material, with the associated quality issues and unnecessary operating costs, there are a few factors that should be considered before the purchase of a new mixer.
So which mixer? First, and most important, is the material and recipe formulation to be mixed. The mechanical properties of the ingredient parts of the mix, together with their particle size, shape and flow characteristics all have a bearing on the mixer selection process and will help to determine the most appropriate type of machine for the application. The production requirement is also an important fact to consider as this will affect the machine size and type, either batch or continuous. The working capacity of the mixer selected will take account of the total required production capacity together with the desired level of automation and time and labour available for operating the machine. These factors when combined will give a clear indication of the parameters of the new mixer.
It has been said that anything can be mixed in a bucket with a wooden spoon, but this simple expedient may be considered impractical for more than a bucket full of product. So if not a bucket and paddle, then what? There are several different types of mixing machinery on the market and it is quite possible that more than one type of machine will be capable of handling a given application.
The challenge is to find the machine that is best suited to you, your process and your budget.
Although the dictionary definitions of mixers and blenders are one and the same, the tradition established among the majority of mixer manufacturers is to define a mixer as one which mixes by virtue of a moving mixing element (agitator) within a static vessel and a blender as one that mixes (or blends) by virtue of a tumbling action of the vessel itself. The different types of mixers and blenders on the market include low speed and high speed horizontal mixers with interrupted spiral, paddle, or plough type agitators, vertical mixers, as well as double cone, drum, tumble and ‘Y’ type blenders, to name but a few. In addition, some horizontal mixers and blenders may also be used as continuous mixing machines. The selection of the type of the machine best suited to your process will in part be guided by the characteristics and requirements of the material to be mixed and for instance, whether it has high or low particle strength.
So what type of machine is the best for you? Very simply it’s the one that achieves the desired product quality at a cost that falls within your budget for the purchase of the machine and it’s subsequent operational cost.
Tracy Thomson is the marketing manager for the well known range of Gardner powder mixing machinery which has been in existence for over 160 years. Kek-Gardner’s experienced engineers and technical specialists are on hand to assist with the selection, and specification of your new powder processing equipment