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Ribbon mixer work principle
Sep 29, 2018

1. Ribbon blender working principle

Ribbon blenders are convective mixers. The mixture movement is forced by the rotation of the ribbon which is circulating the product in 2 directions : the ribbon is actually made in 2 parts, 1 external ribbon circulates the product in 1 direction while another ribbon located inside the 1st one moves the product in the other direction (it can be possible to have even more complex profiles to attempt optimizing the mixing efficiency and thus the mixing time). By mixing enough time, those 2 axial movement, coupled with some radial movement (blades "cutting" the material when rotating), will allow to reach the required degree of homogeneity. The twist of the helix must be studied by the manufacturer so that the direction in which the outer ribbons is pushing is towards the outlet valve of the mixer, if it is not the case, good discharging rate of the mixer cannot be achieved.

For ribbon mixers, the mixing time is typically 3-5 min. Ribbon blenders have the reputation not to be supposed have a short mixing time, which brings some operators to mix 10-15 min. If the mix has no particularity (injection of liquid...) such long mixing time should aler the producer that the mixer operation is not optimal.
The mixer performance, i.e. time to reach a desired homogeneity, is a function of the following operating parameters :
- Mixing batch size : 40-80% of mixer total volume. Visually, the top of the blades must be slightly above the level of product, and some head space to the top cover must always be available. It is a very common problem to find ribbon blenders overloaded which is strongly decreasing their performance. To be noted that it is not advised to under-fill a ribbon blender, since the level of powder must reach inner ribbon in order to be moved and thus mixed.


2. Ribbon blender buying guide - How to select a ribbon blender

When sourcing a new ribbon mixer for your factory, the following questions need to be asked in order to buy the right specifications :

- What is the expected throughput of the line ? What is the product density to be mixed ? What is the expected mixing time and cycle time ? This will give the size of the ribbon blender to buy. Don't forget that the ribbon blender should not be filled at more than 80% of its total volume

- Is it an application requiring cleaning ? if yes, consider access doors on top of the blender to clean, consider safety locks on the access

- Is the application handling an abrasive product ? if yes, discuss with the ribbon blender supplier the alloy in which the blender can be supplied

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