What Are the Different Types of Mixing Equipment? Top 7 Industrial Mixers

Mixing ingredients always looks like a simple and straightforward task. However, mixing ingredients that chemically don’t go together or huge amounts of ingredients in tons is a whole different ballgame. 

Industrial mixers are at the forefront of diverse industries’ daily operations as they play a vital role in large-scale production. In this blog post, we’re going to look at different types of mixing equipment.

scientist in the laboratory looking at a metal tank

What Is a Mixer?

For starters, an industrial mixer is simply a device or equipment used to mix raw materials as part of the production process. They’re used in different applications including food, plastics, chemicals, and medicine.

The quality of mixing equipment depends on various factors, such as consistency and repeatability. This is due to the fact that many industries face the challenge of mixing different materials with unique variations, which leads to the need for special handling. Since mixing is an important phase of production, you simply can’t ignore these needs.

To ensure that the mixing will be successful, different industries require different mixing equipment customized for their specific needs and conditions.

Different Types of Mixers

When discussing different types of mixers, it’s important to understand the differences between blending and mixing. While they may seem synonymous, blending often involves soft raw materials and uniformly distributes the material. Blending raw materials leads to a whole new substance that is unique and cohesive. 

On the other hand, mixed raw materials are combined together but can still go back to their original form. This aspect needs to be considered seriously when selecting a mixer for industrial or any other use.

That said, let’s now look at different types of mixers you should be aware of:

Tumbler Mixers

Tumbling involves diffusing and rotating raw materials to get the desired material. Tumbler mixers are made of sealed mixing drums that use gravitational and rotational forces to mix material. Most materials mixed using tumblers are usually in liquid form.

One way to differentiate tumble mixers from other types of mixers is that they don’t have an agitator. An agitator is a device that rotates an immersed impeller to homogenize the material inside a mixing tank. Due to this mechanism, the risk of particle damage or size reduction is low with tumbler mixers.

On the downside, however, tumbler mixers have the risks of “overmixing” and material segregation after mixing. This is why they’re more suitable for liquids or solid materials that don’t separate easily after mixing (mainly materials whose particles have the same size and density).

Ribbon Blender

Ribbon blenders or mixers get their name from the ribbon-like blades attached to the shaft that form the paddles of the blender. The blades rotate in a central axis to break up the content in the vessel.

The outer blades rotate in one direction while the inner ones rotate in the opposite direction. This movement causes the material in the drum to move up and down. The blade speed can be adjusted based on the desired finished product.

This type of mixing is most suitable for free-flowing solids, such as powders, and solid-liquid mixes.

A common example of a ribbon mixer is a food blender.

One main challenge of ribbon blenders is that they often cause material damage, especially when the blades are moving at a high speed. Also, the rate of mixing is different within the container. Materials near the blades mix better than those further from the ribbon. This can result in an ununiform or inconsistent product.

To beat this challenge, you often need to run the ribbon blender for a long period to achieve consistency and uniformity. This also leads to another challenge- increased operating costs and cycle times.

Agitator Mixer

Agitator mixers can be used as a blanket term for mixers with a paddle, turbine, anchor, propeller, or helical. These mixers have an agitation blade in the middle. The blade contains impellers that use centrifugal force to mix the materials.

This mechanism can be observed in top-load washing machines. Agitators used in the food and beverage industry also have the same working mechanism.

This type of mixer is suitable for mixing immiscible substances that don’t mix easily, dissolving a gas into a liquid, suspending solids in liquids, and transferring heat in agitated liquids. However, they’re not recommended for thick and viscous materials.

Paddle Mixer

The mixing mechanism of a paddle mixer is closely similar to that of a ribbon mixer. The only difference is that paddle mixers are gentler. They have a set of paddles that are set at a precise angle to supply enough dispersion to mix the materials. 

The paddles turn and churn the ingredients to achieve uniformity. They eliminate lumps in the mixture for a better-finished material.

This type of mixing is ideal for ingredients with different shapes, sizes, and densities. It’s also suitable for mixing feeble ingredients, such as fiberglass strands.

Some construction mixers used for mixing building products, such as slurries, paste, and paints, use the paddle mixing mechanism. They’re often referred to as plaster mixers.

Static Mixer

Unlike most mixers, static mixers don’t have any moving parts. Instead, they use a mixing tool shaped in the form of a ribbon or helix. The tool is inserted in a cylinder,  tube, or pipe. The ingredients are forced into the cylinder, where the shape of the tool causes movement that breaks down the molecules to mix them together.

Due to their working mechanism, static mixers aren’t used to mix solids, powder, or granules. They’re ideal for turning gases into immiscible liquids that form a homogenous solution.

Static mixers are mainly used in the automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, water treatment, and cosmetic industries.

Emulsifier Mixer

Oil and water are known to be chemically immiscible. Yet, some industrial productions especially for beauty products, such as lotion, lipstick, and sunscreen, require a mixture of both. This is where emulsifier mixers come in. 

Emulsifiers use a great amount of pressure to force the material through small tubes and filters. This breaks down the molecular structure of the materials and creates smaller particles that are able to mix and blend easily.

Drum Mixer

Drum mixers have a frame supporting the cylinder during the mixing process. Inside, there are blades attached to the walls. As the drum rotates, the ingredients inside are lifted through the blades and then fall back to repeat the process.

There are diverse variations of drum mixers, including some that are portable. The choice of drum mixer is determined depending on its tight seal, transportability, and stackability.

Drum mixers are capable of mixing ingredients of different sizes and viscosities. They are used to make slurries and adhesives. A popular type of drum mixer is a concrete drum mixer used to mix sand, gravel, water, and cement. Concrete mixer trucks also have drum mixers.

Conclusion

Knowing the different types of mixers available in the market is the first step to identifying the best mixer for your needs. If you’re looking for a mixer to help you make pharmaceutical products, you need the right partner to help you select the right equipment.

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