Continuous centrifuges operate throughout the separation process and are vital to its success. The most common design of continuous separation is the basket centrifuge, also called a swinging bucket centrifuge. The best example of a basket centrifuge is a washing machine. These centrifuges consist of a basket that rotates around a vertical axis that uses centrifugal force to separate particles by density. Heavier particles tend to drift down, while lighter ones tend to drift toward the top. This process can be used to separate, purify, extract or wash substances, materials or particles. Centrifuges can be made from metal, metal alloy or plastic among other materials and are normally powered by an electric motor that begins the spinning motion. Continuous centrifuges are most often used in waste water treatment plants, but can also be used in medical, molecular, scientific and aerospace industries, just to name a few.
The centrifugal process may appear to be seamless, but it requires a series of closely connected cycles. If one cycle is off track, the rest are thrown off track as well. The balance of a continuous centrifuge is an important consideration. If the equilibrium balance of a device is off, even by a little bit, it can put a dangerous amount of stress on the device causing mechanical damage and possibly personal injury. This is one consideration for continuous centrifuge purchasers, particularly when they are looking at used centrifuges. Manufacturers and retail associates can help consumers determine the necessary centrifuge requirements for a given application and all things to consider when purchasing a new or used centrifuge. Continuous centrifuges usually contain intake and output channels so as to prevent buildup and to ensure proper separation. Prior to making a purchasing decision, one would have to take the centrifuge's balance, build, previous wear and tear and industry recommendations into consideration.