Mixers are machines that blend, homogenize, emulsify or otherwise mix materials and substances into a single substance. They thoroughly combine virtually any solid or liquid that is necessary to form a final product.
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The History of Mixers
The first mixer was a small, domestic model patented in 1856 in Baltimore, Maryland. From then on, every year or so, another type of mixer, like the whisk, was patented. It wasn’t until around 1885, though, that the first electric motor was invented. It’s believed that it was that year that an American inventor named Rufus Eastman invented the first electric mixer.
The company that truly ushered in the age of the commercial and industrial mixer was the Hobart Manufacturing Company. They were designing mixers as early as 1908, when one of their engineers, Herbert Johnson, invented the first standing mixer. By 1915, his 20-gallon model was being used widely in commercial bakeries all over the USA. Non-food mixers have also been around in some form or another since the early 1900s.
Over the past one hundred years or so, mixers have improved in effectiveness, efficiency and versatility. They’ve also come to be able to take on huge amounts of material at once, without wearing down.
Advantages of Mixers
One of the biggest advantages regarding industrial mixers is the consistency of output. They are known to mix and blend products thoroughly and efficiently time and time again. In addition, because the parts of a mixer can be machined and assembled with precision and with quality materials, they tend to perform better and last longer.
- Production Process
- Though mixers vary by size and design, the majority consist of: a large tank or vat, a head or cover attachment, and motorized blades or flat paddles that rotate on a stationary shaft. The attachments or heads are generally removable to maximize the mixer's effectiveness with different materials.
- Other mixer designs use stationary blades and a tank that rotates. Furthermore, manufacturers have even created different styles of blades that have higher performances based on the material they are mixing.
- Mixer Materials
- Most mixers are made from stainless steel material; this is because stainless steel is sanitary and corrosion resistant. However, some mixers are made from thermoplastic, titanium, steel, cast iron or aluminum.
- Design Considerations
- When designing mixers, engineers think about a few key aspects. These include: placement of the paddles, the design of the blades, the power of the motor, what additional characteristics the mixers may require. Additional characteristic considerations may include, for example, the need for a mixer to provide significant pressure drops, or the need for a miser to be capable of handling large particles moving at high velocities.
- Customization With Mixers
- While custom mixers are not terribly common, they are available. The most widely available specialty machines are used to perform to exact specifications, so that operators can better control the mixing process without causing excess wear and tear.
- Mixers range from as small as portable food processors to as large as mixers that stir 55-gallon drums. Mixers, depending on the application, may have sharp blades or large flat paddles.
Types of Mixers
There are several types of industrial mixers including: ribbon, high shear, paddle and more. Certain mixers are specialized for particular applications. These applications usually have broken down their processes into an exact science based on required ingredients.
- Ribbon Mixer
- Ribbon shaped mixing blades are flat and thin and are used in static mixers. These mixers do not have any moving parts. Instead, they use carefully designed obstructions that force the flow of materials to mix and blend together. Because of the simple arrangement of the stationary blades inside, a static mixer is sanitary and easy to clean.
- High Shear Mixer
- Ideal for industries such as pharmaceuticals, paper manufacturing, food preparation, cosmetic manufacturing and more. This style of high speed mixer is known for processes called homogenization, emulsification, disintegration and dispersion. It also offers particle size reduction of many different solid and liquid materials.
- Paddle Mixer
- Constructed around a horizontal rotating axis with broad shearing paddles that radiate from spokes around the axis.
- Rotor Mixer
- Uses metal blades or arms installed at the bottom of a container. These blades spin at variable speeds to mix substances. A basic and very common example of this setup can be found in an everyday blender.
- Planetary Mixer
- Named after the motion they use to mix substances. Planetary mixing agitators orbit around the outer edges of a mixer bowl on a circular or elliptical axis. Primarily, they’re used in cooking applications, like making dough, but they can be used to mix chemicals as well.
- Commercial Mixer
- Refers to all of those mixers that are put to use commercially, especially in commercial kitchens.
- Stand Mixer
- Mixers that stand upright. To do so, they’re mounted on top of their motor. Manufacturers make stand mixers in all sizes, from 25 gallon plus commercial models, to 1-gallon countertop home models.
- Drum Mixer
- Gallon drums that use mix materials by rotating. Drum mixers are generally used to blend low to medium viscosity mixtures, such as cement or adhesive slurries; this particular kind of mixer is capable of mixing substances of very different particle sizes.
- Industrial Mixer
- Can process large amounts of materials, which is why they’re the go-to mixer for large-scale commercial productions. They usually hold substances in large tanks or vats to hold the substances as they are being mixed by mixing blades.
- Batch Mixer
- For material that requires variable lengths of mixing, batch mixers are a great choice. These mixers work with one load of material at a time.
- For a breakdown and complete blending of a material, use a homogenizer. Homogenizers have been used for a number of years in many industries, including science and technology, food processing and in some industrial mixing processes. Two examples of commonly homogenized products are milk and cream.
- Mixing With an Agitator
- Because their main functions are secondary to the larger process, agitators are basically process aids. Agitation is not very effective with thick, highly viscous materials. However, if you need to mix substances with low viscosities, like liquids, an agitator may work quite well for you.
- Mixing Through an Emulsifier
- Emulsifiers are used to thoroughly mix substances that are generally unblendable. They are able to mix these substances using a perforated screen and high velocities.
- Food Mixer
- There are also very specific kinds of mixers that are used with certain materials or to produce a certain effect. Food mixers are one such mixer design. Food mixers, also known as food processing equipment, blend, mix, fold, whip, beat or knead multiple edible ingredients in food packaging processes. These mixers must meet certain regulations and be completely sanitary.
- In-Line Mixer
- Can handle extremely large batches with much lower horsepower than other mixers. Also, they have a predictable batch turnover. For those reasons, they’re becoming quite popular for use with large volume operations. They can be divided into two groups: dynamic in-line mixers and static in-line mixers. Dynamic in-line mixers work using a combination of pump pressure and high-speed rotating elements, while static in-line mixers work using specially contoured stationary mixing elements. These are located in a tubular housing that functions as part of the pipeline.
- Mixing With a Blender
- When materials need to be broken down into smaller pieces, blenders are chosen for their sharp blades and high speeds. Note that the terms "blender" and "mixer" are frequently used interchangeably.
Applications for Mixers
The main purpose of an industrial mixer, sometimes called a tank mixer, is to serve as a catalyst for combining different substances or stirring settled materials. Many companies rely on them because mixing is often a first step for products that require further processing.
Mixers are used throughout many industries during the manufacturing or processing period. Their powerful motors and blades allow mixers to work with a wide range of materials. These machines are widely used across many industries including the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, research and lab, chemical, agricultural, food and beverage, pulp and paper, automotive, water treatment, adhesive and sealant industries.
In these industries, mixer customers process products like: toothpaste, glue, petroleum products, cement, biodiesel, dry and wet chemicals, medicines, syrups, beverages such as milk, medical ointment, lotions, creams, vitamins, shampoos, detergents, toothpaste, hair dye, petroleum products, silicone, adhesives, polyurethane and many other products or ingredients. Mixing devices are also commonly employed for agitating chemicals and creating fused solutions.
Industrial mixers are typically powered via electric motors operating at speeds of 1800 RPM or 1500 RPM; to help reduce speed and increase torque, the motors are paired with gearboxes. Very small mixers, like lab mixers, may work using magnetic mixers.
Regardless of their power source, mixers work by agitating, or mixing, liquid and/or solid substances until they are evenly distributed (ex. animal feed) or homogenous, or blended (ex. flour and water mixing). They either run in batches or continuously, depending on application needs.
Mixers are unique because they provide a service that their customers could not practically accomplish without them. Any other mixing processes are slow and tedious.
Standards and Specifications of Mixers
It is of the utmost importance that the mixing machine you purchase be reliable and durable, especially if you are working with materials that take a long time to be mixed thoroughly. One way to ensure that the mixer you’re getting is high quality is by asking for certain standard certifications.
For example, one universally advantageous standard code is the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) code. If need be, your manufacturer should be able to provide you with an ASME stamp. Other standard certifications you may be interested in securing for your industrial equipment may include: USFDA, BISC, ABS, API and UL. Largely, standard requirements depend on your industry, application, and region.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Mixer
When well-purchased, mixers prove essential to many customers. This processing equipment can make or break an application. So, it’s important that you get the best mixer for you. How do you do that? Our advice is to start by finding the right manufacturer to guide you. This brings up the questions: Who is the right manufacturer, and how do you find them? The right manufacturer is the one that will consider all of your specifications, treat your budget and timeline with respect, and have the tools necessary to build you the perfect mixer. Now, how will you find this manufacturer? Kick things off by browsing the websites of the industrial mixer manufacturers we have listed on this page. Every company we list is skilled, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. After checking out their respective products and services, reach out to one or more of them for a quote. Make sure to let them know all of your specifications, and ask them any questions you may have. After you get all this information back, compare and contrast, and pick the one you like best!
Proper Care for Mixers
As with all industrial equipment, if you want your mixer to last, you have to make sure to use it only with those materials for which it is meant. Likewise, only fill and run it to the capacities, speeds, and frequencies it is designed to handle. Otherwise, you risk premature wear and tear or a total machine breakdown. It’s also important that you properly clean your mixer in between batches. If you’re dealing with food, medicine, or chemicals, you need to follow the right protocol to avoid cross-contamination. Aside from that, even negligible powders can build up and clog or slow down your mixer.
To optimize efficiency, do these things: 1) only blend something as long as necessary (don’t overblend); 2) make sure your mixer has the right horsepower.
- The recombination of finely dispersed particles into larger particles, typically caused by a disturbance of surface forces resulting from a change in environment.
- Salt found in the cell wall of brown algae. Alginates are used in food processing to stabilize certain mixtures (e.g. emulsions), to seal in moisture and to thicken texture, among other things.
- Axial Flow
- The movement of fluid from the top to the bottom of a tank.
- Batch Mixing
- Mixing process that involves the weighing and measuring of ingredients, the creation of a mixture from separate ingredients, the removal of the mixture and the cleaning of the mixer and mixing tools before the start of a new batch.
- Mineralized water consisting of sodium chloride, metallic and/or organic contaminants. Brine solutions are utilized in food processing procedures.
- Fine particles of a substance that remain between the dissolution phase and the suspension phase. Colloids neither dissolve into other substances, remain suspended within the other substances nor settle out of the substances.
- Continuous Mixing
- Mixing process, involving the automatic creation of a series of mixtures, in which the mixer contains a metering mechanism, such as a pump, and measures, combines and mixes the ingredients. Because smaller amounts are mixed continuously, cleaning of the mixer and mixing tools usually remains fast and easy.
- The ratio of substance mass to substance volume, measured in g/cm3 (grams per cubic cm).
- Small particles of a substance evenly distributed throughout another substance. Dispersed particles are small, but remain larger than colloids.
- A suspension in which one substance is suspended within the other. They are unable to be blended or mixed but can be combined, though not dissolved (e.g. oil and vinegar).
- Consisting of different components that may not be distributed evenly throughout a mixture. The components, while mixed together, still remain separate entities.
- Consisting of identical components distributed uniformly throughout the mixture. The components no longer remain separate entities, but have become one entity, as in a solution.
- The part of the agitator that imparts force to the material being mixed. Examples of impellers are propellers, turbines, gates, anchors and paddles.
- Kinetic Energy
- The use of motion to create and transmit power.
- Laboratory Mills
- Provide a specific advantage when it comes to breaking down materials into a powder.
- Mechanical Seal
- A device consisting of two rings, one stationary and one rotating with the agitator shaft, which is used to seal against pressure where the shaft enters the vessel. Springs or tank pressure forces the accurately machined faces of these rings together.
- Micrometer or Micron
- A unit of measurement equivalent to one-millionth of a meter.
- A substance containing two or more substances that may not be distributed evenly throughout and do not bond together chemically. Substances in mixtures, although combined, maintain separateness.
- Mixer Machines
- Used in a number of different applications and industries in order to produce a final product that is the result of mixing or combining two or more materials.
- A two-bladed impeller whose diameter is somewhat larger than the radius of the tank.
- Residence Time
- The average time a component remains in a continuous-process mixing environment.
- Size Reduction
- The breakdown of immiscible particles in a mixture that cannot be dissolved.
- A homogeneous formation created by the dissolution of a substance or substances into another substance.
- In a solution, the liquid, gaseous or solid substance or substances that dissolve into a liquid or gaseous substance, called a solvent. Solutes usually consist of smaller quantities than the substance into which they are dissolved.
- The liquid or gaseous substance into which a liquid, gaseous or solid substance, known as a solute, is dissolved.
- A heterogeneous mixture in which fine particles of a solid neither dissolve into a liquid or gaseous substance nor settle out, but remain within the substance supported by buoyancy. In suspension, both substances remain separate entities.
- The resistance of a fluid, whether liquid or gas, to flow easily. Fluids with high viscosity, such as molasses, flow slowly; low viscosity fluids, such as water, flow easily.