As you may be aware, there are a number of different types of large scale mixers. There are a variety available depending on the requirements of a given job or task. In a previous article, we did an in depth study of planetary mixers, their advantages, drawbacks, and how they generally function. This article will take on a similar role with regards to ribbon mixers. Where are they used? How do they work? What are their pluses and minuses? Knowing that you, the reader, are dying to find out – we will continue without further ado.
The ribbon mixer is a (typically) large batch tool used primarily by companies that work in factories and/or require processing. The mixer operates by a series of blades operating at different angles revolving around a single central axis. The overall effect is a device that looks like it uses metallic ribbons to mix materials. To help visualize, the main shaft of a ribbon mixer is not significantly unlike the design of the average washing machine. This clever design leads to the effect that different items are mixed in different directions with only the single shaft revolving. One of the great advantages of the ribbon mixer compared to other styles is the amount of material that can be mixed. Most types of mixers typically need to be filled about halfway in order to operate properly. Filling too much can clog up the machine; filling too little can prevent the material from being mixed altogether. In the case of the ribbon mixer, almost any amount (high or low) can be put in the bin and lead to an effective mix. However, despite its relatively simple design, ribbon mixers often require more power and more time to accomplish the same task as other mixers. Another drawback of the ribbon design is that it can lead to problems if the mixer is used for material that is or may become sticky. These mixtures tend to attach to the ribbons (blades) and require a great amount of care and maintenance to avoid. Given the design, which typically only allows easy access from above, cleaning is difficult and time consuming. The mixer is best utilized when mixing materials that contain numerous fine particles that must be mixed evenly for the final product. For this reason, it is extremely popular in manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries.
Like many other forms of industrial mixers, ribbon mixers are often very task specific. They do certain jobs very well, but are not always recommended for more general tasks. This could even be said of processing equipment as a whole. In an industry that creates many products which might be considered commodities, the ability to create these items with the greatest efficiency can lead to the highest profits. Creating equipment that best fills certain rolls can lead to greater outputs in a shorter period of time, even if the initial cost is higher. General tools may be initially cheaper, but one must consider that the costs associated with the greater time required, adjusting the equipment for each task, and the manpower required to perform the aforementioned tasks.
By Felix Chesterfield; Please ask for more if you would like more information on Ribbon Mixers or other forms of Process Equipment.