A continuous mixer is a large piece of industrial equipment used to blend different ingredients together. It may be used in a variety of different industries, including food production, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical testing and manufacturing, and plastic/composite production. More compact continuous mixtures can also be used out in the field to mix concrete for construction projects.
To understand how a continuous mixer works, it helps to understand how batch mixing compares to continuous mixing. In batch mixing, all the ingredients for a single batch of product are loaded into a mixer at one time. They produce a very precise single load of material, which is measured in total grams per batch. With a continuous mixer, a steady flow of raw ingredients is fed into the mixing machine, and a steady flow of finished product is fed out the opposite end. Each batch is less homogeneous and less precise than one produced using a batch mixer, and the final product is measured in grams per hour, not grams per batch.
A continuous mixer is often the best choice for high volume projects where speed and efficiency is a priority. It should only be used when mix ratios can differ between batches. When more specific ratios are required, batch mixing is typically the better option. Some manufacturers may even use continuous mixing to smooth out many different batch mixes to make the finished product more homogeneous. In this scenario, each batch is removed from the batch mixing equipment and fed into the continuous mixer along with all other batches.
Continuous mixer equipment is associated with a number of benefits that are not found with batch mixing. Continuous mixing is much faster, and requires a smaller number of staff. The process of feeding ingredients is automated, and the batches are fed out automatically without the need for refilling or removal. Continuous mixers are often smaller and more economical than batch mixers, which tend to take up more floor space and require more components. Finally, there is less variation between batches than is typically found with batch mixing equipment.
At the same time, a continuous mixer may not always be the best choice for every application. It offers less flexibility than a batch mixer, and results in fairly imprecise batches. Pharmaceutical companies producing medicines that require precise ingredient ratios should not typically use continuous mixers. These mixers are also difficult to maintain and calibrate, and can require more maintenance and repair than batch mixing equipment.