What is a Ribbon Mixer?
A ribbon mixer is one used in manufacturing and industrial applications. Ribbon mixers are also occasionally called ribbon blenders. They are usually used when one of the items being mixed has a lot of particles, and it's important that all of the ingredients are mixed evenly. The mixer has a central shaft with mixing blades angled in different ways that look like ribbons of metal wrapped around the shaft, and is able to move parts of the mixture in different directions at the same time, ensuring that all ingredients are blended in. It can be used for food or medicine manufacturing as well as for heavier industry.
The ribbon mixer consists of some type of closed container, usually with a shape similar to a feed trough. The shaft with attached blades is located inside the container. The blades of the ribbon mixer look like two metal ribbons winding around the shaft, in a double helix design. It looks very similar to an illustration of a DNA strand. The ribbon mixer can have a horizontal construction, where the shaft and blade are sideways in the container, or the shaft and blade can be in a vertical position.
A ribbon mixer usually operates very slowly, and requires a lot of power to work. The mixer does a very thorough job mixing ingredients together. The blade is formed and angled in a way that allows the mixture to move in two directions at once. The mixture in the outer part of the container typically moves in one direction, while the mixture near the center of the container moves in the opposite direction. The shape of the ribbon mixer also ensures that no ingredients are left undisturbed on the bottom of the container, and that all portions of the mixture are blended evenly with the same ratio of ingredients.
The use of a ribbon mixer is not recommended for mixtures that have a sticky final product as the unique design of the blade makes it difficult to clean sticky substances off of it. However, ribbon mixers are an ideal choice for many other applications. They can be used for wet or dry mixtures, and they mix ingredients evenly, yet gently. A few examples of dry mixtures are fine gravels, powders, pet or farm animal foods, cereals, snack mixes, and certain medications. Examples of wet or moist mixtures include the many types of dough used in commercial bakeries, as well as resins and plasters used for manufacturing building materials.
@orangey03 – Oh, no! That reminds me of when my sister was learning to operate the used ribbon mixer she had just bought. She intended to bake things like breads and cakes at home and sell them.
She had never made any on a large scale before, but she decided to try making a kind of candy with caramel in it. She poured the melted caramel into the ribbon mixer along with the dry ingredients.
She kept waiting for it to combine with the other stuff, but it simply stuck to the blades. The longer she waited, the more it solidified.
It was definitely a messy cleanup. Caramel is tough to get off of even regular beater blades. I can't imagine trying to remove it from huge, twisted ones!
My friend and another lady recently went in together to buy a bakery. They knew a lot about cooking, but they didn't know much about the equipment used to make huge batches of food. The ribbon mixer was among the machines they had never used before, but they figured they could use it for just about anything.
They needed to mix a large amount of dough to make their sticky buns. The dough contains a lot of butter, so it is gooey. They didn't know any better, so they put it in the ribbon mixer.
Though they were able to get some of the dough out, about half of it stuck to the blades. They lost a lot of ingredients, and they had to bring in a pressure washer to clean the mixer!
My neighbor works in a factory that makes various types of snacks. He took me to his workplace one day and showed me the ribbon mixer.
I even got to see it in operation. They were about to mix pretzels, candy pieces, dried fruit, and nuts together with it. They poured the ingredients in one type at a time, and they were all just sitting there in layers.
When they turned on the ribbon mixer, the top layer suddenly fell through, and the layers underneath began to rise. Everything got tossed around slowly, and in seemingly no time at all, the separate layers merged to form a snack mix.
I believe I have seen this type of mixer on a documentary about a cookie factory. The workers mixed the dough in a giant vat with metal blades that looked like twisted ribbons.
It looked like a great way to mix all those pounds of ingredients together. By the time everything was well blended, the dough was flopping around as if tossed in the air by a pizza maker.
I know I would never make a big enough quantity of cookies to need one of these at home, but if it could operate on a small scale, I would love to have one. It would be a lot easier than using a handheld mixer.
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