Ribbon Mixer machine

Do you want to start up a blending and mixing business?

Are you in need of a blender or a mixer that would produce a quality and homogenous blend you desire?

Then worry no more.

Because I got all the solutions to your worries just in one piece (this buying guide).

I will tell you what a ribbon blender and mixer is, why you need it, parts and working principle, amongst other important things.

By the end of this guide, you will be an expert in ribbon blender mixer equipment.

Ensure you read till the end.

Let’s get started.

What is a Ribbon blender and Mixer?

Pretty obvious question, eh?

A Ribbon blender or a mixer is a high tech machine that comprises of a U- formed horizontal trough together with a single or double helical ribbon agitator that rotates within.

This agitator channel is positioned within the center of the container.

I am talking about this:

Ribbon mixer

Ribbon mixer

 Ribbon blender is designed to meet efficient blending and mingling capabilities.

It is used to appropriately mix and blend dry solid and solid materials or powdered components to produce a fine and homogenous mixture.

Ribbon mixer blends to the highest degree of accuracy and efficiency no matter the available quantities of the materials.

It is especially suitable for blending such solid materials as well as talcum powders, granules, pellets, spices, paste, and fluids.

With that in mind, let me take you a step further.

Why do You Need a Ribbon Blender and Mixer?

Well, if you are into blending business, then definitely you need to acquire this machine as opposed to other machines.

Efficient and top quality ribbon blenders have securely controlled clearances between surfaces and agitator tips.

In addition to that, they are quick, effective and capable of systematic mixing of powders.

Mixing different types of powders

Mixing different types of powders

Below are special features of Ribbon blender and mixer that no other mixer boasts of.

I. Varying Applications and Very Few Crushes

Unlike other machines, the ribbon mixer has a double ribbon agitator that makes the machine multipurpose and suitable for mixing:

  • Powder- powder
  • Powder- liquid,
  • Paste and highly viscous material such as putty etc.

The radial speed of the ribbon is also flexible to ensure little or no material destructiveness.

Other than that, this blender doesn’t easily break down, unlike others.

II. It Possesses a Triple Ace Mixing Capability

This triple action is the key to unlocking the high speed and efficient blending ability.

The double helical agitators of the machine rotate thereby tumbling on the material inside the blender.

As a result, the pitch of the exterior ribbon transfers the material towards the discharge door.

However, the interior ribbon which possesses an opposing pitch moves the material further from the discharge door.

III. Superior Loading Rate and Enhanced Sealing

The mixing cylinders are inclined at an angle ranging from 180˚ – 300˚ and it comes with the largest loading capacity of about 70%.

Apart from that, a variety of sealing methods are incorporated for you to choose from and select a suitable one for your product.

For superfine powder product, pneumatic together with packing seal is used while for materials with relatively good fluidity mechanical seals are used.

IV. Produces a Super Uniformity and Homogenous Blend and Mixture

Unlike other blenders, the Ribbon mixer has got a double ribbon agitator.

They move in a countercurrent motion displacing the materials from one end through the center to the other opposite end of the mixer.

Thus resulting in the production of a homogenous mixture.

V. It Avails Thorough, Gentle and Super Blends within a Very Short Time

The ribbons of the machine, rotate at a superfast speed approximately, 70 – 100 meters per minute

In the process, they move the material both radially and laterally within short cycle durations.

Usually, it takes just about 15 – 20 minutes for complete blending.

VI. Available in Different Working Capacities

These machines come in different sizes and capacities ranging from 5litres to 25000 liters blenders.

Remember, the minimum working capacity for ribbon blender is approximately 30 – 40% of the overall capacity.

VII. Suitable for Use in a Limited Overhead Space

Is your working space limited?

Do you have a limited overhead space?

If so.

Then it is time to upgrade.

This is a user-friendly machine and can fully fit in a limited overhead space.

Applications of Ribbon Bin Blenders

This blender is trusted by many due to its ability to mix powders.

Section of ribbon mixer

Section of Ribbon Mixer

Below are the main applications of the ribbon blender and mixer:

  • Blending of a largenumber of dry solids.
  • Drying of powdered materials suitable for wet phase mixing.
  • Mixing of drugs, cosmetics, and various chemicals.
  • Dry blending of capsule ingredients.
  • Lubrications of dry granules and pellets in large quantity.
  • Coating of solid particles with liquids to produce a suitable formulation.

In Pharmacology, ribbon blenders are used in the manufacturing of polymer blends, pharmaceutical powders, and composite fillers.

In Food and beverage processing industries, ribbon blenders are used to produce infant food, flavorings, seasonings, dried food products, breakfast cereals, cake mixes, dietary supplements, instant drink blends etc.

Some other industrial materials usually blended in the Ribbon mixer include the following:

  • Animal Feeds
  • Pet feeds
  • Bird seeds
  • Cosmetics
  • Abrasives
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Plastic powders
  • Laundry detergents
  • Fertilizers
  • Plastic powders
  • Fire retardants
  • Gypsum
  • Cleaning compounds

Apart from that, did you know that these mixers are multipurpose?

Well, they also serve the following purposes apart from blending:

  • Vacuum drying.
  • Granulation
  • Coating of solid particles with a little liquid component or a very fine and smooth powder.

Having discussed that, it’s time we concentrate on parts of the equipment.

Parts of a Ribbon Blender

Just like other technical machines, a ribbon blender is a versatile machine that has several.

These parts work together to ensure a smooth working mechanism and production of a uniform blend.

Parts of ribbon mixer

Parts of ribbon mixer – Photo courtesy: WEIKU

It parts, therefore include:

  • Mixing vessel
  • Flat top cover
  • Discharge valve
  • Rotating shaft
  • Agitator element
  • Control systems
  • Drive mechanism

I will guide you through the parts, one at a time:

a) Mixing Vessel

This is the chamber of the Ribbon mixer where the mingling and blending of the materials take place.

This chamber is usually designed in a U- shaped manner.

It is this chamber that mixing takes place.

Depending on the nature of your application, you can mix:

  • Solid or powdered materials
  • Liquids with liquids
  • Mixture of liquids, powders and granules

U-shaped mixing vessel

U-shaped mixing vessel

The mixing vessels occupy the largest space of the machine.

It is in this part that the main shaft agitator is located.

The inner and outer ribbons do their famous countercurrent motion from here.

b) Strong Top Flat Cover

Depending on the size of the trough, a tight-fitting top flat cover is available to optionally cover the container during operation.

The top cover is an entirely opened lid that gives you room for easy cleaning and loading of the raw material.

Lid or cover

Lid or cover

The cover is usually made of strong stainless steel and doesn’t bend from little strain.

c) Superb Discharge Division

The discharging division is professionally fitted with efficient valves that promptly control the discharge.

Discharge

Discharge

Normally, the valves provide a fine seal to eradicate material wastage through spillage.

Also, they uphold a tidier and safer working surrounding for the operator.

The drive mechanisms of the valves could be:

  • Manual
  • Pneumatic – this kind of operation ensures more precise control of the discharge process.
  • Electric

The good news?

You are able to select the valves from a variety.

Depending on the type of the raw material you can pick:

  • Spherical valves – suitable for sensitive products that require no dead spots once discharged.
  • Knife gate valves – they are usually dusted tight and ideal for powders and other dry materials.
  • Rotatory ball valves – these are liquid tight valves appropriate for wet materials.
  • Butterfly valves
  • Plum- blossom dislocation valves

From the discharge vent, the product flows out and you can collect it in the stuffing boxes.

Thereafter, it could be packed according to your preference.

d) Rotating Shaft

This is the horizontal tunnel that rotates at an immensely high velocity to ensure the efficient and rapid movement of the agitator.

Rotating shaft

Rotating shaft

The agitator rotation subsequently makes the material to be tumbled upon and radially carried inside the blender.

In most cases, the pace of the shaft varies.

It depends on the circumference of the outer ribbon.

The optimal speed of the shaft is about 80 – 100 meters per minute.

This high speed is essential in offering exhaustive and uniform blends within a short duration.

e) Agitator Element

This could be two helical agitators just like the SaintyCo Ribbon Blender with inner and outer ribbons.

Agitator

Helical Agitator

This is ideal for both dry and wet applications including slurry, thickened or diluted slurry can be mixed and blended sufficiently.

f) Control System

The interesting part is that the blender comes with a pre-loaded and wired control panel.

Do you have a fixed budget or schedule?

A preinstalled program is important because it:

  • Saves you the task and expenses of seeking services from a local installer.
  • Makes the machine automatically ready for use immediately after setup.

The control panel is essential to the overall operations of the mixer.

It comprises of:

  • Main power switch.
  • Safety limit switches.
  • Fuse especially for the motors.
  • Emergency stop button.

Control box

Control box

All these parts shall be completely tested and guaranteed during the purchase to certify their working conditions and suitability.

g) Drive Mechanism

This part is responsible for ensuring the smooth operational basis for the machine.

However, the driver unit, the power consumption and the output speed can be altered in accordance with:

  • The kind of material to be blended.
  • Starting method.
  • Processing

The drive unit comprises of motors from which you have a wide range of options to pick from.

They may include general motors, variable frequency motors, high efficiency and energy saving motor, explosion resistant motors.

Motor unit

Motor unit

The motor connections are diverse and may include the following kinds of connection:

  • Direct connection
  • Pulley connection
  • Hydraulic coupler connection

The regularly used reducers are K, R, and F – series gearbox, cycloidal reducer; cycloidal reducer, planetary gear reducer and universal gear reducer.

Ribbon Blender Design and Construction

The blender comprises of:

  1. U – Shaped horizontal container
  2. Agitator comprising of two helical ribbon agitators i.e. inner and outer ribbons that rotate.

The agitator’s vessel is positioned within the center of the container.

As you’ll see from the images below, the agitator construction provides a three-way mixing action that ensures prompt and efficient blending.

Figure 12 Technical drawing of ribbon mixer

Technical drawing of ribbon mixer

The ribbon blender is carefully designed, constructed and fabricated to ensure rapid, efficient and exhaustive mixing of powdered materials.

Both the dimensions and configurations of the machines are precisely designed and balanced.

It is to enhance smooth movement of materials within the container.

Of course, this ensures dead spots are avoided and to avail speedy product discharge.

Alternatively, the paddle agitator can be incorporated.

These paddles are stationed to move the materials mixed in counter lateral and radial directions.

However, the paddle design is mostly used in the following cases:

  • When friable materials are to be blended
  • In circumstances when the batch capacity to be mixed in the blender is limited usually as little as 15% of the overall capacity.

Some common aspects of blender constructions and design are based upon the following:

Construction Materials

The machine body is made of varied materials that are carefully chosen depending on if the parts are to be in contact with the raw material or not.

Again, the materials for other auxiliary machine parts such as the driving unit are different.

Quite a number of ribbon blender and mixer machines feature stainless steel (304 and 316L).

The steel is usually made to undergo suitable surface treatment modes such as;

  • Polishing
  • Mirror polishing
  • Sandblasting
  • Wiredrawing

Thereafter the metals are riveted and used in the construction of different parts of the mixer.

Internal section of the ribbon mixer

Internal section of ribbon mixer

Wear and tear resistant liner sheets may also be used when abrasive products are involved.

Unlike the interior parts, all the exterior stainless surfaces are painted with automotive paints such as enamel paints.

The ribbon blender is riveted and welded into a single unit.

Bulky and stable gauge walls are also used.

The end panels are fully reinforced.

All these measures make the vessel extremely rigid and stable to keep in control of the agitator vibrations and movement.

The machine has got strong and firm stands that support it and keep it in position eliminating any chances of the blender collapsing.

The components and devices used together in the ribbon blender are internationally famous certified products with superior quality and highly durable.

All these parts are approved in accordance with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) models.

The entire construction of the blender is suited for coping up and withstanding the atmospheric pressure imbalance during the operation.

The mixing capacity of the machine is also sufficiently large covering approximately 70% to 80% of the general vessel volume. This provides:

  • Adequate and optimal space for material flow on the sides of the agitator.
  • Maximum contact between the agitator and the batch material. It ensures the product mixture produced is of top quality and homogenous (no matter the quantity of the raw material).
  • Strategically positioned spray system, making it easy to introduce liquid into the system. Adding liquid is important when you want to produce homogenous powders against liquid disseminations.

This ribbon blender not only works alone, but it is driven by a combination of some mechanical parts such as motors, couplings, and gearbox.

The motors usually generate a power of about 10 HP to 15 HP for blending of one thousand kilogram product mass.

For a large number of masses, a versatile power may be used.

In addition, the mixer has got a centrally situated flush discharge valve at the bottom section of the machine.

The mixer also comes with a tight-fitting top cover.

The top cover size would entirely depend on the dimensions of the blender.

The following features may be customized depending on the customer’s needs and operational demands:

  • A variety of discharging valves may be used as per the needs and preference of the customer. They include either manually or pneumatically operated valves such as slide gate, butterfly, diaphragm etc.
  • Powerful choppers may also be fixed on the sides. The high-speed choppers help in breaking down the agglomerates or lumps in the process of mixing. Also, they help in blending raw materials that are prone to forming agglomerates.
  • A sizeable window opening suitable for carrying out an inspection of the blender and cleaning the trough.
  • Numerous discharge locations depending on the blender capacity.
  • A specially designed jacket to assist in heating and cooling down the machine during operation.
  • Non- explosive motors, speed varying drives together with the digital control panel.

Now, with all these, it is important to look into the working mechanism of the blender.

For more information, please look at the table below.

Technical specifications of ribbon mixer

Technical specifications of ribbon mixer

Ribbon Blender Working Principle – Here’s the Secret to Achieving Homogenous Mixture

Ribbon blenders are efficient at mixing powders with powders as well as powders with liquids.

During the blending operation, both the sets of inner and outer helical agitators play a major role.

The outer ribbon conveys the materials from one end to the midsection of the mixing vessel.

At the same time, the inner ribbon transmits the raw materials from the mid-section to the opposite ends.

Essentially, they operate in a counter direction.

You can see that in the video below:

The ribbons move in a rotational motion at a very high speed, thereby achieving a radial movement.

A combination of radial and countercurrent motion occur repeatedly to ensure highly homogenous mixing and blending is achieved within a very little time.

These fast rotating and high impact ribbons also eradicate lumps hence availing blends free from lumps.

It usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes from the start up to attain a blend when working with the machine.

The quality of the resultant product obtained is approximately 90 to 95 percent standardized.

Please note:

The size of the particles and the substance density of the raw materials have a direct impact on the resultant mixing capabilities of the ribbon blender.

These two elements subsequently affect the quality of the blend produced.

Therefore, it is only constituents with relatively related particle sizes and densities.

These would usually mix more rapidly as opposed to those constituents with variation in these properties.

Once the blending process is completed, the rotation of the ribbon agitator triggers the product discharge.

Of course, this occurs from the discharge valve situated at the bottom part of the trough.

As I had mentioned, the valves operate either manually or pneumatically.

The material could be discharged nearly entirely with no or little dead zones.

Technical Specification of Ribbon Blender and Mixer

The ultimate choice of ribbon blender and mixer completely depend on your set objectives and mission.

It is thus essential to set them right.

Let’s consider a few questions that will help you to make the right decision here:

ü  Are you in need of a standard or a heavy- duty machine?

Before you figure out this, ensure you first determine the actual size and density of your products.

This would, in turn, assist you in knowing the volume of the batches and subsequently defining the actual size of the blender.

Note that blender models and types are designed according to their volume capacity.

The material density also determines the power consumption and therefore would pinpoint the suitable kind of machine.

Dense raw materials are suitable for use in heavy-duty blenders while material densities of approximately 35 lb /CU can be handled by standard mixers.

ü  Do you need a direct driven gear motor machine or belt/chain driven?

The recommended ribbon blender is the modern one which directly uses a gear motor as opposed to the belt or chain driven.

This is because they require little or no maintenance.

In addition, they perform perfectly well.

When used together with electronic inverters to provide varying speeds, protection against overload and a soft start, gear motors work suitably flawless.

Unlike modern blenders, indigenous common blenders used a belt drive for transmitting power between the motor and gear reducer.

However, some ribbon blenders have got chain drives as an alternative to belts.

Belt stretches, excessive overhung loads and noise made by chains are problems related to belt and chain driven machines respectively.

Fortunately, all these are eliminated in the direct driven blender.

ü  What is the appropriate discharge valve for your application?

Depending on the kind of application, you should determine the blender model that has got a suitable discharge valve.

Again, the valve needs to have a proper sealing.

For powders and dry materials, a dust-tight gate valve should be employed.

Fluid-tight ball valves are also suitable for vacuum/pressure or wet applications.

For sensitive products, look out for a spherical valve.

ü  Do you prefer manual or automatic adding of materials?

For manual ribbon blender and mixer, add material before starting the machine.

This enables the operator to close all the inlets as a precautionary measure.

Liquids or fluids, on the other hand, are usually added while the ribbon agitator is rotating.

If an automated feeding system is available, then the material then you will add materials automatically.

The blender can additionally be fitted with a spraying system for adding fluids.

Some measures may be taken to ensure controlled and meticulous addition of the liquids and fluids such as; use of a metering pump and a pressure valve.

The spraying pumps and metering pump are technically fixed so as to control the rate of adding liquid.

Of course, this feature eliminates the possibility of over flooding the batch, which could otherwise form damp clumps of the products.

You need to apply the liquid at a central section of the batch or via multiple nozzles to provide the finest mixing.

ü  Take into account the maximum and minimum batch quantity of the blender

Every model is capable of carrying a specific maximum and minimum batch quantity.

Do you know that optimal operation in a ribbon blender needs at least 30 -40% of the indicated capacity?

Now you know.

Therefore, you need not work with little volumes as the agitator may fail to adequately come into with the product hence producing an uneven mixture.

With this information, I am sure you now have an idea of the best ribbon blender and mixer for you.

Ribbon Blender vs. IBC Bin Blender – Ultimate Comparison

Let’s now dig deep into a comparison of two main types of blenders.

At this point, you already know all about a Ribbon Blender.

Shall we compare it against IBC Bin Blender?

But before that, what is an IBC Bin Blender?

Intermediate Bulk Container is a type of blender that is fitted with a container to enhance the suitability in its operation.

It is regarded as the best machine for blending granules and powders among a wide range of materials in industries.

IBC blending system

IBC blending system

For a comprehensive contrast between the two machines, we shall use the following parameters.

  • Construction design and structure.
  • The main applications.
  • Types of materials used in building the machines.
  • Pros and cons of the machines.

What are the Structures/Designs of Ribbon Blender and IBC Bin Blender?

Just as expected, these machines have a great difference in terms of structural design.

We shall consider the following for a better understanding.

ü  U- shape vs. Bin Shape Irregular Designs

Whereas a Ribbon blender consists of a U-shaped trough and horizontal agitator, the bin blender comes in a wide range of customized irregular shapes for their containers.

It is due to their irregular shapes that they offer efficient blending and mixing.

Ribbon mixer vs. IBC bin blender

Ribbon mixer vs. IBC bin blender

The various shapes such as spherical, prism, rectangular, cone etc.

ü  Openings and Holes

The ribbon blender construction offers options for the creation of various openings including inlets and outlets.

On the other hand, IBC bin blender only has two openings, i.e. the main hole for introduction of materials and the charge hole for discharge of materials.

ü  Motion of the Materials

Ribbon blenders offerto mix in a radial and axial directions similar to the movement of the ribbons.

Whereas the container blenders operate at 360˚ symmetrical motion availing a highly homogeneous mixture.

ü  Rotation Framework

The container blender has got a rotating frame which firmly and securely holds the bin.

Thereafter, it rotates the bin depending on a predetermined cycle.

The process initially starts with the operator fixing the bin onto the rotary frame.

For ribbon mixers, you don’t need a bin.

Simply pour the material into the trough via the top into the system where there is the helical ribbons.

ü  Driving System

In the ribbon mixer, the driving system rotates the main shaft agitator.

For the Bin blender it is the rotary frame that is driven.

Despitethat, the driving systems are similar and may comprise of motors and similar connections.

1. Machine Support Mechanisms

The ribbon blender is supported by rigid and firmly fixed supports that hold up the trough to avoid any chances of collapsing.

Bin blender may be fixed with either a strongly attached clamping bar or a firm cage.

What is the Difference in the Applications?

The applications play a major role in determining the kind of blender to purchase.

The ribbon blender is suitable for blending large quantities of dry solids, mixing of powdered drugs, chemicals, cosmetics, lubrication of granules and coating of solids with liquids.

The Bin blender, on the other hand, is most efficient and suitable for blending granules and powders.

In addition, it can mix a number of dissimilar products within a short period.

How about of the Materials for making Ribbon Mixer and IBC Bin Blender?

Since these machines are used in pharmaceuticals, food and chemical processing, the kind of materials used is a critical aspect.

Quality compliance is yet, another important aspect to consider.

Before you make a purchase, ensure the machines are cGMP and FDA compliant.

Bin blenders are fitted with approved sealing equipment such as silicone and neoprene rubber.

Ribbon blenders are fitted with valves.

Stainless steel AISI 316 is used for all parts that come into contact with the products and AISI 304 for other machine parts in bin blenders.

The same scenario is similar when it comes to ribbon blender and mixer.

So What are the Advantages of Using these Machines?

Ribbon BlenderIBC Bin blender
Offers a triple mixing action, hence fast and efficient blending.Provides a 360˚ symmetrical mixing ensuring a thorough blend.
Has a wide range of applications.Has a wide range of applications, especially powders and granules.
Available in different models and capacities 5litres – 25000 litersCome in a vast range of capacities from 400 liters – 1200 liters.
Have firm and rigid supports.Have a clamping bar or cage for support.
Has got an extensive range of customizable features.Customizable to suit the needs of the customer.
Thorough blending due to the countercurrent ribbon movement.Highly efficient for blending due to their irregular shapes.
Blending is achieved within limited time, usually 15-20 minutes.Able to mix different products within a short time.
Requires limited overhead space.Occupies little space floor.

 

What about the Shortcomings?

It is a common aspect for all machines to have limitations.

Blenders are therefore not exemptions.

The ribbon blender is unsuitable for use in a limited space and it consumes the relatively high amount of electric power.

Similarly, IBC Bin blender requires higher power input.

Conclusion

At last, you are now capable of making the right selection for the best machine that suits your needs.

I am confident that you now know detailed information about the ribbon blender after learning about its parts, design/construction, working techniques and technical specifications.

Besides, you can also differentiate ribbon mixer from IBC bin blender.

Now, it’s your turn:

Join the conversation as we learn about material processing equipment in the pharmaceutical industry.

For any questions or inquiries, you can talk to us.

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