Cone Milling Technology- All You Need to Know

The reduction of material particles to achieve the desired sizes and quality is an important milling process widely used in the food, pharmaceutical, and chemical manufacturing industries. The processing technique relies on the cone milling technology. In this post, we detail all you need to know regarding conical mills including their application areas.

Cone milling technology is all about the use of a cone mill to reduce particle sizes.  A cone mill boasts different names such as conical mill, Conical Screen Mill, or Co-mill

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Why Cone Mill?

The word “con mill” or cone milling technology came about because of the conical shape of the milling head where particles are fed for the milling process.

Cone Milling Technology – Historical Background

The Cone mill was developed by Quadro Engineering company in 1976. After its invention, the company became the main manufacturer of cone mills for various industrial applications.

Over time, cone milling technology has continued to evolve into a modern particle reduction technique. Some of their applications in the pharmaceuticals, chemical, and food industries include:

  • Particle reduction of either dry or wet materials
  • Deagglomeration of dry food materials
  • Granulation
  • Breaking down particles or dumping of powders or granules
  • Grinding broken materials into powder for reprocessing

The Technology of Cone Mill – How Does It Work?

A typical conical screen mill used in the pharmaceutical industry comprises a top vertical conical head where you feed wet or dry granulated particles for resizing. The feeding of particles relies on gravitational force or can be achieved manually

The top conical head where particles are fed has an abrasive inner lining and a rotating impeller. So as the impeller rotates, the abrasive surface helps to grind the particles or resize them into the desired smaller sizes.

The impeller rotation also creates a centrifugal force that moves the already resized articles up the inner sides of the cone head where they are filtered through a sieve. They are then discharged into a receptacle at the bottom of the cone milling section.  

Particles that cannot pass through the conical mill screen automatically move downwards to the impeller jaws! They are further resized, pushed upwards again, sieved, and discharged ready for collection.

In summary, the operation of a conical milling machine has three main stages namely: raw material feeding, cone milling, screening, and particle discharge.

Conical Milling Technology-Main Types of Cone Mills

Below are some of the most common types of cone milling machines you will come across in most food, chemical, and pharmaceutical sectors:

Pharmaceutical Cone Mill

The pharmaceutical conical mill is an industrial conical mill that allows for the resizing of a wide range of particles. Its conical shape allows for easy screening of and flow of powder materials. 

The choice of the right pharmaceutical cone mill is determined by the size of the particles you wish to mill. 

The cone mill is equipped with special screens for both dry and wet materials. It also has rotating blades which compress sized materials and in the process, force them to filter through its conical mill screens.  The mill ensures tight resizing of particle materials. This ensures there is consistent flow and uniform milling for enhanced quality of products.

Multi Mill

Unlike a cone mill that handles only dry particles, a multi-mill technology allows for resizing both wet and dry materials. 

With a multi-mill, you can effectively reduce the sizes of lumpy particles. The mill has special scraping blades that help in material pulverization and downsizing. 

The Resizing process of granular particles within the milling section is achieved by fast-rotating impeller blades. If your process requires a high-speed granulation process, this is the best cone mill to invest in.

Tabletop or Laboratory Cone Mill

A Tabletop cone mill is also referred to as a laboratory conical screen mill. It is small in design, easy to use, and mostly used for the calibration of either wet or dry material particles. Because of its small size, it can be used in small spaces and is easy to move from one location to the other. The mill’s rotating blades help crush while the conical chute discharges resized particles.

Comminuting Cone Mill

A comminuting conical mill is mostly used in the pharmaceutical industry and is designed for granulation processes. It is, therefore, used for downsizing of particles, milling, and pulverization

 It has rotor blades with sharp edges that help reduce particles to the desired sizes.

Below the milling section is a special screen valve that allows the sized or granulated particles to pass through into a receptacle. The cone Mill can handle both wet and dry material ingredients.

Over-Driven Cone Milling Technology

In this conical mill design, you have a power transmission belt mounted at the top of the milling machine. Over-driven cone mills have a wide range of applications such as granulation, and reclaiming of broken particles. You can also use them to prepare powder pastes or resize particles that tend to stick together.  

Under-Driven Conical Mill

In this type of cone mill design, the gearbox that drives the milling impeller is safely sealed at the bottom of the cone mill head. The design allows for in-line processing which is a container-to-container milling process. This enhances productivity.  Again, with the under-driven cone mill, you can detach the cone mill head for easy cleaning. This makes it a hygienic milling solution.

The Oscillating Granulator Cone Mill

This is yet another type of cone milling technology where an oscillating bar rotor helps in resizing particles. As the bar oscillates, your material particles are forced against a wire screen. This facilitates particle reduction. Resized particles move through the wire mesh for collection at the bottom. 

Cone Milling Technology – Types of CoMill Screens

If you are in the cone milling sector, you will come across a wide range of cone mill screens for different application requirements. Below are some of the most common Co-Mill screens to consider for your particle separation processes.

Rotary Conical Mill Screens

If your process involves the separation of liquid from solid materials, then the rotary conical mill screen should be the type of cone milling technology you should consider. How does it work?

All you need to do is pour your wet solid particles into a special drum with a screen.  The rotation of the drum facilitates the movement of liquid or water through the wire-mesh screen.  The liquid from the wet mixture is forced to move through the drum screen and flows to the bottom. The solid materials remain in the drum for collection

Vibrating CoMill Screens

Just like the rotary conical mill screens, the vibrating cone mill screens also help you separate solid particles from liquid. However, unlike the rotary mill screen, it is the vibrating screen that facilitates the separation process.

So as the material screen vibrates, the solid materials move to the upper part of the separation drum. The liquid water flows down to the bottom through the wire mesh screen.  

Hydrocyclones

The operation of this conical mill screen relies on centrifugal force. You use hydrocyclone screens if you need to remove water or dewater slurry particles. 

You need to feed the slurry material mixture into the top section of the hydrocyclone unit. 

As the hydrocyclone spirals down to a screening cone, centrifugal force pushes the liquid or lighter particles out from the top section of the cone screen.  The solid particles remain downward due to their weight. The liquid with fine particle suspension at the top then flows down for easier collection. The fine solid particles remain at the bottom of the hydrocyclone for collection. 

Cone Milling Technology – Parts of a Milling Machine

Here are the main parts of components of a typical pharmaceutical conical milling machine or cone mill:

The Hopper

This is the main top container or the in-feed chute where you load the raw material particles you need to mill. The larger the materials you plan to resize, the larger should be your feed inlet or hopper.

Most hoppers are funnel-shaped to facilitate uniform movement of materials through gravity.

Its function is to feed the cone mill head where the milling takes place. A tapered outlet links the hopper to the milling cone head. 

Cone Head

This is the top conical head section where the particle resizing or the milling process begins. It has holes that hold the larger particles and only allows the already resized particles to pass through. You will find most cone heads made of steel or tungsten carbide. This is because they rotate and so, need to be tough enough.

Impellers

Inside the cone head are impellers. These are rotating blades or bars that facilitate the grinding of large material particles to achieve the diesired particle sizes. 

Screens or Sieves

These are cone-shaped sieves or screens. They allow for ground smaller particles to pass through for collection during the milling process. The smaller the particle sizes you wish to produce, the smaller should be the screen holes. The already ground or resized particles then move down into a receptacle for easy collection.

Receptacle

This is the bottom section of the milling cone where you collect the already resized particles.

Power Transmission System | Drive Belt

The cone mill shaft and propellers get their rotational milling power through a belt drive transmission system. 

Depending on the design of your cone milling machine, the drive belt can be either at the lower or upper side of the cone mill. 

The Main Frame

This is the stainless steel base or structure that supports the cone mill either on the ground or on any suitable surface. It also facilitates the movement of the cone mill.

The Shaft

The shaft helps provide the rotational movement of the cone head to facilitate the particle resizing process. It gets its rotation power from the transmission belt and holds the cone mill head in position. An upper bearing on the cone size and the bottom bearing keep the shaft in a vertical position. 

Touch Panel

Modern conical mills come with a touch panel. The touch panel helps you program the operation of the machine. The touch panel may have configuration buttons and a touch screen for easy programming.

Benefits and Limitations of Cone Milling Technology

Below are some of the advantages and benefits that make modern cone mills worth considering for your industry processes:

Benefits and Advantages of Cone Milling Technology

Compared to other size reduction processes, the conical milling technology boasts the following advantages and benefits:

Consistent High-quality Production

With conical milling technology, you are assured of producing products with consistent sizes. This is an important parameter when it comes to quality production, especially in the pharmaceutical sector where consistency in quality standards is critical.

Production Efficiency No Waste of Materials

With cone mills, your raw materials are processed within a restricted and enclosed area that only allows for the milling and movement of resized particles. So, with a CoMill, you can achieve high production efficiency with no losses associated with material waste.

Application Versatility

You can use the cone milling technology in a wide range of sectors and for milling a wide range of materials. For instance, you can use a cone mill to process pharmaceutical products or to resize different materials in both food and chemical industries.

Easy to Use and Easy To Maintain

Cone mills are not complex machines that require a high level of training to either use or maintain. Because of this, cone mills can help you achieve high production efficiency.

Does Not Produce Excess Heat

Conical milling technology does not generate excess heat that would damage your materials during the milling process. The revolution of the cone mill head during the milling process produces very little heat which cannot adversely affect the chemical quality of your final ground or resized products.

Low Noise & Dust-Free Design

If your processing environment is sensitive to noise, then modern cone mills will fit your needs. This is because of their low noise levels. You do not have to invest in expensive noise-dampening materials or structures.

Further, cone mills are dust-free making them safe for use in different environments.

Compact and Portable Design

Cone mills come with compact designs. So, they are portable and you do not require a large space for their installation.

Designed to Last | Highly Durable

Cone mills boast corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel. This makes them highly durable for long-term application and business gain.

Drawbacks of Cone Milling Technology

High Initial Costs

Some advanced models of CoMills with high production capacity are not pocket-friendly. Therefore, if you are just starting your processing business, you should be ready to spend more to acquire some top-of-the-range cone mill solutions.

High Power Consumption

The Operation of some cone mills demands more power especially when you plan on processing harder and larger materials. This can result in huge power bills and dent your profit margin if you fail to make the right purchase decision.

Inability to Handle Some Particles

Unfortunately, you cannot use a cone mill to resize all material particles.  This is because some materials are too hard for a cone mill to Attempting to mill such materials can cause expensive damages to your cone mill.

Regular Maintenance

The high-velocity rotation of your cone mill parts such as impeller blades exposes them to tear and wear. So, to maintain high-quality production, they need to be checked regularly for general maintenance. You may need to make regular replacements especially when working on harder materials. This can be demanding but if ignored, can adversely affect your product’s quality.

Cone Milling Technology -Cone Mill Maintenance Tips

As you may have noted, the application of cone mills in both pharmaceuticals and the food industry focuses on products that are taken(as medicine)or consumed by people.  Therefore, as a producer, high standards of hygiene must be maintained. 

Regularly Detach, Sterilize, and Clean Cone Mill Parts

To effect this, it is important that you regularly detach and thoroughly clean and dry the various cone mill parts especially those that come into contact with material such as cone milling screens, hoppers, and receptacles. 

Regular Lubrication of Moving Parts

To keep your cone mill in perfect working condition for enhanced productivity, you should regularly lubricate its moving parts. These parts include bearings, wheels, and any other moving links or joints that are likely to be exposed to friction. 

Keep Operating Temperatures Low

If your conical mill operates continuously, especially when milling coarse materials, your cone mill may be exposed to high temperatures.

The temperature within your cone milling area is also critical. When the surrounding temperature is already high, it is not advisable to operate your cone mill in such an environment. This is because it is more likely to overheat and damage your materials especially if they are heat-sensitive.

Therefore, you should give your cone mills time to cool down between your processing periods. If you are using a belt drive, heat buildup will be much lower than gear drives. 

Another option you can consider is attaching a screen temperature sensor to your cone mill. This ensures that when the temperature reaches above the recommended level, your conical mill is automatically switched off.

Factors To Consider When Choosing a Cone Milling Technology

Manufacturing Standard

Different cone mills have different standards in terms of the materials used and performance. Therefore, it is important that before making any purchase, you go through the provided cone mill specifications and features. Only purchase your cone mills from suppliers known to manufacture high-quality Comills with desirable warranty conditions.

Power Consumption Efficiency

To ensure that your cone milling process is cost-effective, you must consider buying cone mills with high power efficiency. Therefore, after identifying suitable cone mills, take time to assess their motor ratings. This will help you make a wise decision and save on the power bill. 

Configuration Features & Operation Ease

To achieve maximum efficiency, your selected cone mill should be easy to set up or configure. For instance, your chosen cone mill should have features to allow for adjustment of material feed rate and cone head rotation speed among other parameters. Another important factor to consider is ease of operation. Based on your requirements, only choose a user-friendly solution as this will enhance performance or production efficiency.

Cone Mill Noise Level | Operation Environment

Some cone mills may not be conducive to your application area due to their high levels of noise during operation. So, if noise is your concern go for cone mills with noise-absorbing components, or those known to produce low noise. 

Dust-free Operation

You don’t wish your entire cone milling area to be a sea of material dust! Therefore, as you shop for a suitable conical mill, consider solutions that operate dust-free. A CoMill that comes with a dust-collection unit would be a perfect choice for a healthy milling environment.

Cone Milling Flexibility

If your material processing unit consists of several cone mills, it is wise that you consider a solution that is flexible enough to fit into your current system. 

For instance, if you need to discharge particles from one cone mill to the other, compatibility of both size and discharge capacity is critical

Desired Production Capacity

Different types or models of conical mills have different milling capacities. So, if you plan on resizing large volumes of materials, choose a high-capacity cone mill. To guide you on this, check the production capacity details of various cone mills and only choose the one that suits your requirements. 

It is important that you also consider your future production requirements when choosing the cone mill with the right production capacity.

Material Size and Hardness

While some conical mills work with large-size materials or lumps, others work better with smaller particles. Again, some CoMills can only handle soft materials while others are suitable for hard particles. 

Safety Considerations

CoMills need power to operate. Therefore, to ensure that your machine operator is safe from injuries, you should choose a CoMill that is rich in safety features. Such features can be in the form of protective guides around rotating belts, shafts, and gears

Budget and Expert Guidance

Other important considerations before investing in a conical milling technology are your budget and expert guidance. By focusing on your budget limit, you can filter solutions that fit your current budget. 

If you are not sure of the best conical mill to go for, it is better to consult a reliable and experienced cone mill supplier for guidance before you make a purchase.

Industry Application of Cone Milling Technology

Conical milling technology is used in the following three industries to produce a wide range of resized particles.

Pharmaceuticals Industry – Cone Milling Technology

If you are in the pharmaceutical industry, you require conical milling technology for size-reduction and granulation of some particles. To achieve these, you require special conical mills.

Let’s make it simpler by referring to common pharmaceutical products.

Before you produce tablets, granules, or capsules you need to have their Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients(APIs) in fine powder form. So, you will need a suitable dust-free mill to grind them.

In most instances, the ingredients of your pharmaceutical products will be in the form of large particles or lumps of dry or wet materials. To resize or grind them into the desired powder form, you must invest in a suitable cone mill.

Food Processing Industry – Cone Milling Technology

When visiting a food store, you will find a variety of milled products such as ground flour of different food products, spices, food colors, and finely ground coffee among others. All these products are processed from large material particles using cone milling technology.

Chemical Industry – Cone Milling Technology

In the paint industry, different powder pigment materials are processed into powder form using CoMills during the paint-making process. Some dye particles also need to be ground into powder form using conical mills.

Conclusion

The use of conical milling technology has revolutionized particle-reduction processes in many industries, especially in the pharmaceutical, chemical, and food-processing sectors. However, to get maximum benefit and achieve maximum production efficiency, you must invest in a suitable cone mill solution.

It is, therefore, necessary that before you decide on which conical mill to choose for your particle milling processes, you engage an expert for guidance. You must focus on a solution that addresses your current and future needs, and that is within your budget.

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