Your home and business are filled with items that have been mixed at some point. You can find examples in your bathroom, kitchen, or work area. Walk around your home or plant and you find it in the paint and concrete. You even mix items on a daily basis. Sometimes, you combine one ingredient with an already-blended one.
Much of what you see and use was made at a manufacturing plant with a large number of blending machines. The most common of these are ribbon blenders. Used for generations, this type of mixer is the most common in America. It’s used in the food industry, pharmaceuticals, and construction. What they do is simple. They blend different types of material into a cohesive end product.
In other words, it’s a unit operation. The concept of industrial mixing manipulates heterogeneous physical items. The goal is to make the end result homogeneous. This is done with a mass transfer and activation among all the products used.
The industrial world does this through the mixture of solids and liquids in one container. With ribbon mixers, individual ingredients are poured into a large cistern. Modern mixers have the option of measured addition. Each ingredient is poured into a different area. At a programmed time, they are released into the greater mixture for even blending.
How the mixing is done depends on the type of machine used. With a ribbon mixer, ingredients are combined horizontally or vertically, depending on the model. It is normally a continuous and rapid process. This allows for the proper chemical reactions between the ingredients.
Other blenders, like those which use paddles, are gentler. While still continuous, mixing doesn’t take place through agitation. Instead, it is performed in a slower manner. Sometimes, such as in the food industry, blending is combined with heating and cooling.
The end result of this mixing is a product with the proper chemical reactions. It allows for constant replication of material with the same consistency throughout. For the consumer, the process means the same taste, texture, or potency each time it is used.
When you open that bottle of craft beer next time, or a can of paint, take a moment. Thank the industrial world for its continued work to perfect the proper mixes.