Agitators are equipment used in homogenizing media inside a tank. It works by rotating the impeller at its immersed end at a controlled speed or revolutions per minute (rpm). The work exerted by...
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This article has everything you will want to know about industrial blenders and their use.
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An industrial blender is a machine for large-scale production that consists of a large tank capable of mixing and blending batches of manufacturing materials to create a reaction between the materials. The many uses for industrial blenders are due to their capacity and efficiency in completing the mixing process economically.
Industrial blenders are mainly found in scientific operations that require the mixing of chemicals and medications. The precision and accuracy of industrial blenders make them ideal for combining chemicals in the exact amounts needed using the blender’s PLC programming.
Due to the nature of their use, blenders are normally made from stainless steel though ones that do not require completely sanitary conditions are made of steel, cast iron, and aluminum.
There is a wide assortment of types of industrial blenders that are specifically designed and engineered to meet the needs of specialized applications. Industrial blenders blend solids, liquids, and various mixtures such as granules, powders, sticky pastes, abrasive matter, and stones.
The key to using an industrial blender is choosing one that is ideal for the materials to be blended. Since there is such a wide selection, it is possible to choose a blender that precisely meets the needs of a unique industrial application.
Agitator industrial blenders provide constant churning for liquids. The agitation process is based on the concept of non-specific movement, which mixes materials with turning paddles. It is designed for low viscosity materials but can be adjusted with thicker paddles for high viscosity substances.
A paddle mixer is a form of agitator, which is designed for the blending of dry materials. Paddle blenders are used for gentle applications such as coating nuts, blending salads, or creating slurries. They can be engineered to cook and blend at the same time. The sizes of paddle blenders vary between 5 cu ft and 500 cu ft.
The blending mechanism for a paddle blender includes paddles attached to a shaft. They can have a release valve at the bottom or tilt to dispense their contents. Paddle blenders work very slowly to ensure the consistency of the mixture.
The purpose of an emulsifier is to mix immiscible substances that are resistant to being mixed, such as water and oil. The process of an emulsifier applies pressure to the materials through filters or holes to break down the molecular structure of the materials such that large molecules are made smaller to mix with the other materials.
An emulsifying agent may be added to the mixture with more resistant materials to enhance the mixing process. Emulsifiers do not have blades but have pipes through which the materials to be mixed flow before being mixed.
Dual shaft blenders consist of two tubs that sit side by side, with one shaft placed in the middle of each tub. The drive for the shafts can be a single motor with a crossover drive to turn the second shaft, or each shaft can have a separate motor. The shafts of a dual blender can turn in multiple directions, including the same, opposite, or reverse directions. The placement of the shafts can be so close that they pull product from each other or sufficiently far apart so they don’t touch.
When a dual shaft blender has two motors, it is possible to work them against each other at different rpm speeds or in differing directions. Dual shaft blenders can have ribbon or blade types, which are used on other types of industrial blenders.
Ribbon blenders have sharp blades for blending solid materials. The name of a ribbon blender comes from the shape of their blades, which is like a ribbon. The blades rotate around a central axis. Ribbon blenders are ideal for removing lumps from liquids that have been left sitting.
The helical mixing tool fills the mixing shaft, making it capable of creating a spiral flow in the mixing chamber. A wide assortment of materials can be mixed using ribbon blenders, including powders, pellets, flakes, granules, pastes, slurries, and dough. The spiral mixing motion of the helical blades creates a three dimensional flow that moves in an upward direction on the outside edge and downward flow in the center.
Rotary blenders, or rotary drum blenders, do not include blades or paddles. They have blades that are welded to the interior of the rotating drum, which means that there are no moving parts inside the mixer. The process of a rotary blender provides a gentle mixing process that does not shear or damage the contents.
The mixing blades of a rotary blender use their unique motion to fluidize a mixture with every rotating motion. A wide assortment of bulk materials can easily be mixed rapidly and efficiently.
A double cone blender is a tumble blender that rotates to blend the materials. They have a small footprint and require less room. During the rotation of the cones, the contents slide to the bottom of the vessel. Double cone blenders have an access cover for cleaning and inspection. They operate on the free flow method for gentle blending of granules and powders and can mix up to five ingredients at once.
The V shaped blender, or twin shell blender, is a rotational blender that tumbles the materials. As the metal V rotates, the materials separate into the two wings of the blender and then recombine. The wings of the blender are welded at 75o or 90o angles. The interior of a V shaped blender does not have any moving parts. The blending process of a V shaped blender requires very few rotations and takes less time than other types of blenders.
As with a double cone blender, V shaped blenders are ideal for mixing free flowing liquids and materials. The two openings of the blender are located at the top of the wings of the V, which makes it easy to discharge materials at the end of the blending process.
Vibrational blenders are used to mix fine powders through the use of ultrasonic sound waves. The process of an ultrasonic blend is similar to that of an emulsifier. Instead of using pressure to reduce and mix liquids, a vibration blender uses ultrasonic waves.
When ultrasonic waves are passed through a liquid or slurry, it generates vacuum bubbles or voids. As the waves continue, the bubbles grow but collapse when they cannot absorb more energy. This process is referred to as ultrasonic cavitation, which has been successfully applied to mixing and blending.
Vibration blending allows for precision control of every aspect of the blending process including the amplitude of the ultrasonic waves and their length of time.
A homogenizer blender operates like an emulsifier by breaking down unlike and unmixable substances. They are an excellent method for blending materials using pressure and force. The purpose of a homogenizer is to break down liquids or materials into a smooth and uniformly consistent substance. Various methods are used by a homogenizer, including ultrasound and various other blending methods.
Vacuum blenders can be horizontal or vertical. They use a combination of heat and internal vacuum pressure to blend materials. Vacuum blenders have the additional function of performing as a dryer during the blending process. A vacuum blender has the same structure as a traditional blender with a vacuum pump attached to the airtight blending chamber.
The vacuum pump sucks out air in the chamber such that blending can take place in a low oxygen atmosphere.
A mass blender has a cabin that rotates on a horizontal plane and has the same interior structure as a rotary blender with blades welded along the internal sides of the chamber. Mass blenders are used for lumpy and dry mixing and for mixing small granular materials. Several varieties of these blenders have capacities beginning at 50kg and going up to 150kg.
An octagonal blender has an octagonal shape, with the bottom and top portions being polygonal. It has baffles that quickly mix materials and is ideal for gently mixing powders or granular materials. For optimum performance, an octagonal blender is filled to 70% of its capacity.
The exceptional blending results of an octagonal blender are due to its slow speed and the octagonal shape of its chamber. During the blending process, the material comes together from all sides due to the octagonal shape, which requires fewer RPMs. The rotational cycle of an octagonal blender keeps materials continuously in slow motion to provide highly efficient blending.
Twin screw low pressure extruders (TSE) are hig- end mixers with an intense mixing process. Unlike a typical extruder, twin screw low pressure extruders have two screws that interact and provide better mixing at lower temperatures. They are commonly used in continuous processes since they can be used to compound mix prior to sending materials into a high-pressure extruder.
The process of a twin screw low pressure extruder is more intense and aggressive than is found in normal blending. TSEs have a very high present solids loading ratio, which refers to the solid mass present in liquid materials.
Static mixers are used to continuously blend fluids and materials in flow streams using mixing elements placed in a pipeline with flanges at either end. They are constructed using baffles as the mixing elements, which are made of plastic or metal.
The flow stream is the force for the mixing process since static mixers do not have moving parts. The number of mixing elements can vary from one to four, depending on the needs of the application. Extra elements can be added when necessary to increase mixing power.
One application where a static mixer is used is in a shell and tube heat exchanger to assist in enhancing heat transfer. Static mixers are a low cost method for helping in heat transfer since they influence film or wall coefficients.
Vertical blenders are ideal for materials that are shear sensitive and when there is limited available floor space. They have a slow turning blending screw, which is much gentler than a horizontal blender. The blending screw circles the conical chamber turning and gently moving the material upward. Once the material reaches the top of the conical shape, it falls back down through the center to the bottom.
The rotation of the screw is a contra-rotating helical ribbon that creates four cross flows, with three being forced and the fourth created by gravity. An upward forced flow moves material along the periphery of the chamber. The slow speed of vertical blenders makes them ideal for applications that occur in hazardous areas. The power for the screw is supplied by a gearmotor with a right angle axis to ensure high output of the kinematic chain.
The efficiency of a vertical blender allows for the blending of a wide range of batch sizes that start at 10% of the blender's capacity. Blended materials are conveniently discharged through a valve at the bottom of the conical chamber.
Every type of blender is produced using a manufacturing process designed for its shape, size, and the materials that will be blended. Blenders are made of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, and cast iron, with the most common material being stainless steel. Careful attention is paid to the construction of the blender such that it meets the standards of the industry for which it is produced.
Industries that make the greatest use of blenders are pharmaceutical, plastics, and food production. The most important feature of a blender is its seal such that the materials will not leak or be wasted. This aspect requires that all hatches, valves, and other openings be properly engineered into the blender’s design.
The common metal for industrial blenders is stainless steel, which is necessary for the food and beverage industry, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. When hygiene is not an issue, blenders are made from steel, cast iron, and aluminum.
Once the type of metal is chosen, the metal is roll formed using a twin roller press. The metal sheet is moved back and forth through the rollers until it forms a “U” shape.
The “U” shaped metal piece is welded to the end plate of the blender. It is spot welded to hold it in place on the plate. The weld is a horizontal weld where the curved sheet sets on the end plate.
The image below represents the perpendicular attaching of the curved sheet to the end plate by spot welding.
The paddles for most blenders are made out of stainless steel. They are produced using a variety of methods that cut the shapes of the paddles from a plate of stainless steel. Each manufacturer has their own process for cutting the paddles using a variety of techniques.
One method used to cut the paddles is a plasma cutter that precision cuts the paddles to size and shape desired. The heat created by the cutter produces precise lines and angles.
Once the paddles are cut and shaped, they are curved in a press to maximize their lifting, blending, and scoping ability.
The main shaft of the blender is a vital part of the blending process. Its rotational force drives the paddle assembly and is capable of withstanding high temperatures. Smaller diameter shafts have higher stress than large diameter ones. The main shaft is designed such that its stress requirements are below its fatigue limit. For this reason, larger diameter shafts are used since smaller diameter ones experience fatigue failure.
A key seat is cut into the end of the shaft to be locked to the mixer's main drive box.
To hold the paddles in the mixing chamber, arms are tightly bolted to the shaft. The arms have holes shaped in them to connect the paddles and allow for clearance adjustment. The arms and paddles are placed at an angle. The clearance between the walls and the paddles is carefully checked to ensure proper spacing.
In some cases, a solid shaft is created by welding the arms, paddles, and shaft as one unit. Once the assembly is welded, the welding connections are ground down to create a uniform and single unit shape. This creates a more secure connection between the various interior elements of the blender.
Welded units are preferred for food and chemical processing because they make cleaning easier.
The motor is attached to the blender, with the drive assembly connected to the agitator shaft. A taper bushing centers the drive gear box on the shaft.
Access to a horizontal blender, the most common type, is through covers located on the top of the chamber. Inside the covers are safety grids to protect workers from large materials when the blender is opened. The covers and safety grids provide access to the paddles and shaft for loading, unloading, and inspection.
Once the covers and grids are installed, other monitoring devices are attached, such as air pressure valves to control air pressure along the shaft.
Control panels take various forms in accordance with the type of material and blender. The purpose of control panels is to limit the amount of input necessary to operate the blender. Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) have become a vital part of industrial blenders with their many interfaces for the user. PLC have to be custom programmed to meet weight, time, speed, and other requirements.
In the majority of cases, PLCs for blenders are manufactured from scratch with the proper adjustments and data.
The main reason industrial blenders are an essential part of manufacturing production is their large capacity. Products can be formulated and devised with upscaled proportions that can produce the final mixture in large quantities. As is important in any industry, industrial blenders are a worry free and efficient blending process that makes for smooth production.
Blenders are found worldwide in any industry that has to combine components to produce a product. From blending ingredients to make loaves of bread to combining polymers to make plastic products, blenders are the key device for completing the process.
The production of pharmaceuticals requires equipment capable of exceptional accuracy, consistency, cleanliness, and efficiency. The stipulations of the regulations are to ensure the safety and purity of medicines available to the public. Blenders for the pharmaceutical industry are specialized and complex to meet the required standards.
Blenders prepare emulsions, reduce particle size, complete chemical reactions, change the flow of materials, and dissolve components. The complexity of the needs of the pharmaceutical industry requires the use of several forms of blending devices.
The success of the processing and production of adhesives is highly dependent on the blending process. From homogenization to dissolution, the type, size, and method of blending determine the efficiency and quality of the adhesive. The many technological advances in blender technology have enhanced and improved the blending of adhesive materials, greatly improving the products and their use.
Adhesives that are produced using an industrial blender include epoxies, latex sealants, joint compounds, polybutene emulsions, polyurethane, and rubber cement, to name a few.
When the word blender is mentioned, the first thing people think of is the blender that sits on their counter at home, which they use to make food. The food industry uses blenders for the same purpose but on a larger scale and in larger quantities. The food industry uses blenders for dry blending, emulsification, dissolution, dispersion, and blending of highly viscous ingredients.
Blending is the key method for transforming raw materials into delectable and consumable food. The consistency of an industrial blender can create the perfect texture and appearance that a food product requires. The variety of blenders enables processors to have small industrial blenders for small scale projects and larger, more robust ones for longer production runs.
Though the food industry relies on blenders to produce their products, blenders are an essential part of the production of plastics since blending determines the type, strength, and molecular structure of plastics. The first step in producing plastics is to take the various types of polymers and chemical additives and blend them into a solid mixture. This necessary step is highly critical to the quality of the final design and use of the plastic material.
One of the challenges of the cosmetics industry is to blend materials that are not configured to be blended together, which requires the emulsification of the materials to break down their molecular structure. The superior control and accuracy of industrial blenders make it possible for producers to complete the blending process effortlessly without destroying the essence of the raw materials.
The demands of the cosmetic industry require that a blender be adaptable to the many different consistencies, viscosities, and shearing requirements of the various cosmetic materials. It is this challenge for which industrial blenders are highly suited.
The descriptions of the above industries are only a few of the many industries that rely on industrial blenders for the success of their processes. Any production process that relies on the blending and mixing of an assortment of materials uses an industrial blender to emulsify, blend, mix, and pulverize its raw materials.
All of the various dynamics of blending can be applied to a wide range of materials, from pellets and rocks to viscous materials and powders. The sturdiness, durability, high quality performances, resilience, and reliability of industrial blenders have made them adaptable to any type of material.
There are very few limitations on the materials that an industrial blender can treat due its high tensile strength steel structure. This aspect of industrial blenders is why they have become a necessary part of material production.
In the blending of dry solids, no liquid or water is used to soften the material for the blender. In the food industry, dry solids involve coffee beans, mixes, seasonings, spices, flour, tea powder, and frozen foods. For the chemical industry dry solids involve powdered detergents, specially designed chemicals, ceramics, and fertilizers.
The delicate and precise blending of dressings and spreads requires a great deal of care and planning since inappropriate blending can damage the taste and quality of the final product. The problem of blending dressings and spreads is enhanced by the use of oil as the base ingredient. An extended amount of time is required for the blending process and does not involve blades or agitators.
Dry pet food requires a blending process that produces a solid material that will crack and break when chewed. The texture, form, and composition of dry pet food is honed and perfected by an industrial blender.
Of all the various food products, sauces are the most difficult to make since they require the precise blending of carefully proportionally measured ingredients. If the mixture is blended too quickly, it may sour. If it is blended too slowly, it will not reach the proper consistency. The technological PLC control of an industrial blender ensures the success of sauce preparation.
The mixing of ingredients for confections follows quite closely the process of blending sauces and requires the same type of precision. For many years, candies and sweets were made by hand on a large platform hot plate. The mixing took hours of forming, churning, turning, and shaping the ingredients into the proper consistency. Those hours of mixing have been radically shortened with the use of an industrial blender that can prepare a large batch with the proper consistency in a shorter amount of time.
The preparation of bases is an extremely delicate matter and takes a great deal of patience. In some cases, chefs will refuse to reveal the ingredients and proportions of their base. Industrial blenders are an ideal method for preparing those top secret bases since they allow the combination of ingredients to be proportionally accurate and allow the ingredients to be blended at the proper speed and time.
Syrups are made of preservatives that are blended and dissolved with raw sweeteners in water. This blending process can be more aggressive and include rapidly turning paddles and agitators. A major part of the blending process is the shearing of the ingredients.
The blending of polymers is a combining of polymers without the use of a bonding chemical. The purpose of polymer blending is the rapid and inexpensive production of products that have unique and complex properties. The characteristics of blended polymers are superior to the individual mixed polymers and takes advantage of the beneficial qualities of both polymers.
The challenge for an industrial process of blending polymers is the miscibility of the polymers since the blending process may require an aggressive pulverizing of the materials to break down their molecular structure.
The blending of metals is completed when the metals are in powder form. The shape and size of the powder particles determine the type of blending process that will be used to combine them. The combining of metals creates a material with the advantages and properties of each of the individual metals. The blending process for metals breaks down the molecular structure of the metals such that they can combine to make a single substance.
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