7 Common Types of Industrial Mixers
Industrial mixers are a complex, intricate, and precision tool used to mix and combine chemicals and substances for production, manufacturing, and industrial use. The wide range of industrial mixers includes small compact ones that are capable of quickly combining plastic polymers for plastics production to ones that can pulverize and mix pellets and stones.
The industries that depend on mixers are the cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and food industries since mixing is a necessary part of their production processes. Most people associate mixing with food production because of the obvious relationship. Beyond the production of food there is a limitless number of uses for mixers. They can be found in any industry that requires the combining of like or unlike substances.
Types of Industrial Mixers
It is impossible to have just one type of mixer since raw materials and ingredients widely differ. Materials for mixing, blending, and combining have different properties, characteristics, and attributes that require the adjustment of the mixing method to accommodate the diversities of the materials. The specialization of mixers includes homogenizers, dispersers, and particle reducers.
Though there are a wide range of mixers, they can be divided into three categories, which are diffusing, shearing, and convection.
Diffusion mixers rotate about an axis in a tumbling motion and use gravity to impel materials.
Convective mixers have a horizontal or vertical static shell, which can be in an assortment of geometrical shapes. Mixing is completed using some form of impeller or mixing element such as paddles or blades.
Shearing mixing is a high speed process that is part of the convection group. The shearing process involves the rapid movement of an impeller that shears, disperses, pulverizes, and greatly impacts materials such that they become smoother and mix easier.
Convective mixers have a short mixing cycle that rapidly mixes materials using an impeller that rotates at a high rate of speed. The rapid movement of the impeller creates heat that assists in the mixing process. The speed of the mixing process splits the particles of the material, which optimizes the mixing. Convective mixers are too aggressive for use as diffusive mixers.
Tumbler mixers are a form of diffusion mixer that rotates to mix the materials and use air in the mixing process. Mixing occurs by gravitational force as the tumbler rotates around its axis at a controlled speed. Tumbler mixers do not have agitators, impellers, or paddles but complete the mixing process very efficiently.
Fluidization mixers use the high flow rate of gases to fluidize powders, which assist in heating or cooling the mixture. Fluidization mixers are recommended for mixing low to medium density materials ranging from powders to pellets. They are the fastest type of mixer capable of completing a cycle in ten seconds up to two minutes with 30 seconds being the most typical. The paddles are placed at an angle and have overlapping paths to increase the efficiency of the mixing process.
Agitator mixer is a general term that covers a wide arraign of agitator types that include anchor, paddle, propeller, turbine, and helical. The agitation process includes the rotation of an impeller or impellers that releases centrifugal force. They are ideal for combining immiscible substances that do not mix easily.
The main function of an emulsifier mixer is to combine two substances that do not normally combine, such as oil and water. When two materials are unable to naturally blend, they are referred to as immiscible, or unable to form a homogeneous mixture. In the emulsification process, the materials are forced through tubes and small filters that place the liquids under great pressure. The process breaks down the molecular structure of the substances such that they are able to blend easily.
The homogenization process is breaking down bigger molecules into small ones such that even distribution can occur. It is the emulsification of globules that have a macron size and forcing them into micron size in order to produce a stable and balanced dispersion. A homogenizer mixer is the tool that is used to produce emulsification. Homogenization is a shearing process that spins and crushes materials.
Drum mixers have the broadest number of variations of mixer types and include ones that are portable. The choice of a drum mixer is due to their tight seal, maneuverability, and stackability. The variations of drum mixers include ones that can have their contents mixed while other versions serve as a container for mixing, much like typical mixers. They are used to mix materials that have a low to medium viscosity such as slurries and cement. Drum mixers can have internal blades or impellers and serve as batch mixers.
Paddle mixers have a set of paddles that are set at the precise angle to supply a sufficient amount of axial and radial dispersion to break up materials. During the mixing process the paddles churn and turn the ingredients to achieve the appropriate consistency.
The name of ribbon blenders is a reference to the ribbon-like blades that form the paddles of the blender that rotate around a central axis. They have a “U” shaped shell that contains the double helical ribbon that creates the convective two directional motion. The rotational force of the two part ribbon pushes the product in one direction while a second ribbon moves it in the opposite direction.
A static mixer has a helical static mixing element, which is inserted into a pipe or tube. They are used to mix gases, liquids, or to mix a gas and a liquid. Static mixers are capable of dispersing a gas into an immiscible liquid to form a homogenous solution. The mixing components can take a variety of shapes depending on the manufacturer and the types of materials to be mixed. The flow of the gases and liquids, through the pipe, breaks down their molecules to blend and mix them.