Hosokawa Micron is well-known for its technology-driven powder processing innovations and the unique Flexomix high impact continuous mixer is a fine example of a thoughtfully engineering solution to overcome the agglomeration challenges created by materials with complex characteristics, such as high adhesivity, to efficiently improve a powder’s physical properties.
Originally designed in the early 1970s for turning steel powder into microgranules in one step, this engineering titan has been adopted by diverse manufacturing industries all over the world to process manifold raw materials for use in thousands of everyday household products, from instant soups and drinks to detergents and pharmaceuticals. When used as part of a wet agglomeration process system containing a Hosokawa Micron Nauta® Conical Screw Dryer, the Flexomix can even contribute to the effective long-term management of extremely hazardous nuclear material.
The well-proven, adaptable Flexomix has numerous features that ensure its continuing popularity in the market, including an integrated self-cleaning mixing chamber and the ability to almost instantaneously produce superior-quality free-flowing particles from agglomerated powder and liquid mixtures. Designed to be energy-efficient, super-quick, efficient and uncomplicated, the Flexomix can handle high volumes of products and liquids, despite its compact size, and requires only minimal operator process intervention. It can also be fully dismantled for thorough, easy cleaning and product changes in around two minutes.
Conveniently, a Flexomix process system is available for product trials at our state-of-the-art testing facilities.
The Hosokawa Micron Flexomix is currently available in a range of six models: FXD-100, FXD-160, FXD-220, FXD-250, FXD-335 and FXD-400.
The Flexomix offers a cleverly designed, maintenance-friendly, construction and comprises a single rotating shaft that houses a set of adjustable blades, as well as an external roller cage that moves up and down to flex the mixing chamber and prevent product build up inside when processing. Accurately processing material to particle sizes in the range of 0.1mm to 2mm – with a typical D50 value of between 200µm and 700µm – the resulting granulates have a porous structure and narrow particle size distribution. The Flexomix handles a powder to liquid ratio of up to 45%.
Each model operates with a direct drive motor and the model number represents the diameter of the mixing chamber (mm). There is a wide range of sizes available (up to 40,000kg per hour).
Below are the typical characteristics for each Flexomix model. More detailed information on each model’s capabilities, plus advice on choosing the correct version or process system for your requirements, is available from the agglomeration experts at Hosokawa Micron Ltd.
The Flexomix high impact mixer and agglomerator can be integrated into an existing process system or be a component of a turnkey solution entirely supplied by Hosokawa Micron Ltd. Our expertise includes designing and engineering the system, including bespoke manufacturing of the necessary equipment, process system controls and any other optional components that may be required for optimal performance of the Flexomix agglomeration system.
Hosokawa Micron control systems come complete with the latest hardware and software, including controls to ensure a consistently high-quality product under various processing circumstances. Our ergonomic HMI-PLC systems include features such as lot traceability, operator identification, customised reporting, smart alerts and remote servicing capability.
The iconic Hosokawa Micron Flexomix is a continuous mixer for the agglomeration of numerous challenging fine powders, slurries, pastes and solids, including very adhesive material. The agglomerator offers a highly effective way of improving powder characteristics – such as flow, dispersibility, bulk density, appearance, hydration, solubility, sinkability and humidity level, as well as adding cross-linking agents to SAP.
Trusted worldwide by the nuclear, pharmaceutical, chemical, food, mineral, metal, soaps and detergent, personal care, glass, agrochemical, automotive and pigment sectors, this multi-purpose mixing equipment is a popular component of an agglomeration process system.
Typical end products that are manufactured using a Flexomix include ‘instant’ food and drinks powders, cocoa powder, ice-cream, soup, confectionery, nappies, hygiene products, washing detergent, pesticides, animal feed, construction materials, soil conditioner, veterinary antibiotics and car tyres.
The efficient and compact Flexomix is a vertical high impact continuous mixer and agglomerator with a wealth of proven credentials, garnered from a wide range of industries and unique product requirements.
Capable of achieving granulation of between 0.1mm and 2mm, the resulting material has a porous structure with narrow particle size distribution. More wetting of the original powder means larger agglomerates with a higher moisture content can be produced. These agglomerates are typically more adhesive in nature but can be successfully processed thanks to the Flexomix’s self-clean capabilities.
Powder material is introduced into the Flexomix’s cylindrical, aerated mixing chamber via a gravity-fed inlet at the top of the equipment. Liquid of varying viscosity or steam is rapidly introduced via two atomised nozzles, which are also located at the top of the equipment, above the upper mixing blades.
The powder instantaneously makes its way down into the central rotating mixing chamber – whose wall can be made from rubber (or alternative materials) to make it flexible. Here, the powder is intensively swirled, rotated and compressed at a variable speed of between 1,000rpm and 3,500rpm by a set of efficient blades that are fixed to a vertical rotating shaft. The intensity causes the particles to collide and the particles become raspberry-shaped formations which have consistent bulk density, as well as good solubility and flow properties.
The three blades are all angled differently and rotate at high speed to provide a very strong turbulent air flow for the powder. At this stage, liquid (or liquids) is introduced via vertical, high-speed injection to efficiently mix with the powder in a quick and uniform manner (20-50m/s), resulting in a wetted suspension. The mix is precisely blended to create a smooth and homogenous mixture.
If drying of the material is required, the Flexomix can gravity feed the agglomerated mixture into a specially designed Hosokawa static fluid bed dryer – featuring high air velocity and an adjustable bed height – where it can be quickly dried with hot air and cooled with cold air prior to further processing (such as classification) if required.
A game-changing advantage of the Flexomix is its ability to process wet and dry ingredients in a continual mode, which could only be achieved by the unique engineering of the equipment. The design allows the Flexomix to clean itself as it processes – thanks to the flexible mixing chamber and a set of external rollers, which pneumatically move up and down to flex the chamber and stop product build up occurring inside, achievable even when there is a high ratio of liquid being added and the mix is particularly sticky. In addition, mixing, wetting and agglomeration is possible in under one second and this very short residence time adds to the energy-efficiency of the Flexomix, which is in the region of 2 to 4Wh/t.
The Flexomix’s adjustable features and mechanisms – such as rotor speed, blade angle, liquid adding ratio, feed rate, residence time, dispersing force and binder options – allow for a wide variety of agglomerated powder characteristics to be achieved.
Hosokawa Micron’s Flexomix can be purchased as an individual piece of equipment but is more often supplied as part of a continuous agglomeration process system comprising additional Hosokawa Micron or third-party components. For further information on the process systems Hosokawa Micron could design and supply especially for your particular application requirements, please see the Flexomix ‘Process Systems Solutions’ section.
Hosokawa Micron’s Flexomix can be supplied as an individual piece of equipment but is typically supplied as the central component of a Hosokawa Micron-designed agglomeration process system, comprising a selection of additional equipment that supports the agglomeration functionality of the Flexomix. Additional components include static fluid bed dryers and tailor-made process controls systems with specially designed, user-friendly modular software unique to your process system for effortless process optimisation.
Porous agglomerates can be produced in the range of 100µm to 1,500µm with a typical D50 value between 200µm and 700µm.
The process of successfully agglomerating powder and liquid together to form larger uniform particles can be complex and challenging, with a number of variables in play that require thorough consideration, particularly if stringent industry standards need to be met, such as those demanded by the nuclear, chemicals, food and pharmaceuticals sectors.
Our processing team are highly respected technical specialists with a wealth of first-hand expertise and accumulated wide-ranging research and data with which to create the optimal process system for your needs – for now and also into the future.
Before we even start the design phase, we will make sure we have a thorough, in-depth understanding of your processing requirements.
We carefully consider every step of the process your materials will be required to go through to design and build a high-performance system that you can rely on for years to come; everything from storage, conveying, charging the raw materials into the system, the agglomeration process itself, the drying stage, discharging the processed material, sieving, packing and much more, so the system is entirely unique, optimised and tailor-made for you.
In addition, we have the capacity to test your materials to laboratory, pilot and production scale, during the development stage, using our innovative Flexomix technology and a dedicated Flexomix-based agglomeration system, which typically includes a Hosokawa static fluid bed dryer specially made to the correct size for the application.
Our dedicated state-of-the-art test and development centre provides unique opportunities to determine the most efficient process, process system or plant prior to the final design stage, with skilled, highly experienced staff on hand to collaborate with your engineering team to make sure you are 100% happy with the design and capabilities of your equipment before we manufacture it for you.
We will provide you with all the necessary documentation and sample material you might require and would be delighted to welcome you remotely or on-site to watch the testing taking place.
On-line pre-testing meetings, observing the trials and post-testing evaluation meetings to examine the processed samples are all part of the Hosokawa Micron service. We believe these stages are absolutely vital when creating a specialised agglomeration system, particularly because of the unpredictable nature of powder.
The ever-increasing importance of looking after our planet means we are constantly developing Hosokawa Micron powder processing systems to be more energy efficient and are proud to say that a typical Flexomix agglomeration process system uses around 35% less energy than a more traditional spray tower.
Flexomix and Fluid Bed Dryer Process System – various applications
A typical Flexomix agglomeration system has powerful functionality and efficiency for a complete, reliable powder processing solution to an agglomeration challenge, including when the material to be processed might be sticky or difficult to handle.
The complex system may comprise a powder handling system, accurate gravimetrical powder dosing system and a binder dosing system with liquid dosing skid for a consistent integration of water, steam or other liquids. The centrepiece Flexomix equipment is next, followed by a specially designed static fluid bed dryer (which can be scaled up from 0.25m2 to 20m2 to dry the wetted material) and classification equipment, if necessary. Classification is split into on-size and oversize fine material. Any oversize particles are crushed in preparation for reprocessing. Material that is 100% to spec can be stored in bags or taken to a final packing area – all in continuous mode.
Augmenting the agglomerator is an air system with a blower to heat and then cool the processed wet agglomerate, plus an air exhaust system complete with cyclone and filter. Keeping it all working efficiently is an integrated, state-of-the-art, control system (PLC or SCADA) featuring the latest technology.
Typical end products that require this approach are detergent powders, certain chemicals such as carbon black and pesticides, animal feed and soil conditioner.
Flexomix and Nauta® Conical Screw Dryer Process System – nuclear
Hosokawa Micron has a great deal of expertise in producing high-performance process systems for the nuclear industry, including for the containment of hazardous materials and for drying and immobilising contaminated nuclear materials.
Hosokawa Micron’s Nauta® Conical Screw Dryer is an energy-efficient universal vacuum dryer solution for increasing the mass content of wash liquids and may be used in conjunction with a Flexomix to dry low contaminated nuclear materials prior to their immobilisation.
For long-term storage of nuclear waste, immobilisation of the dried nuclear material is required, which is where the Flexomix comes into its own. The Flexomix blends a solidifying mixture with contaminated wet nuclear material and water.
Flexomix and Bextruder Process System – agrochemicals
Agrochemicals such as pesticides are manufactured to extremely stringent industry standards and Hosokawa Micron has extensive experience of this specialist manufacturing sector. Around the world, major players in the crop protection market use the Hosokawa Micron Flexomix, which is preferred to traditional agglomeration and humidification equipment because of its self-cleaning capability and benefits such as significantly increased yield and reduced downtime.
Considerations for agrochemical manufacture include ensuring the granulated materials have quick, uniform dissolving properties, are a stable suspension, dust-free and free-flowing, as well as stable in storage and densification.
To formulate water dispersible granules, which combine the advantages of powder with the benefits of harnessing a liquid form, a Flexomix, Bextruder, static fluid bed dryer and sieve combination is perfect, enabling the production of pesticides with a high bulk density and granulate diameter of 0.7mm. As with all Hosokawa Micron process systems, a fully automated control system (PLC or SCADA) ensures that the processing is safe and the operation reliable and optimised.
Chemical products that are typically manufactured using this process system are soil conditioners and fertilisers made with ingredients such as TriCalcium Phosphate, DiCalcium Phosphate and Phosphoric Acid. When mixing either phosphate with the acid, the mix becomes reactive and wet. The mix needs to remain in the Flexomix until the reaction finishes. Further processing using a static fluid bed dryer would be recommended to evaporate any excess moisture and dry the free-flowing agglomerates to create an optimised conversion rate, allowing for a higher value product that is easy to handle. A similar system would be required to manufacture pesticides.
Hosokawa Micron’s sought-after Flexomix is instrumental in processing super-absorbent polymers (SAP), which are an essential component of disposable hygiene products that form a gel inside upon exposure to liquid – such as nappies, sanitary towels and protective underwear for adults. Otherwise known as hydrogel, the polymers can absorb and hold on to an incredible 500 times their weight in liquid when mixed with surface cross-linking agents. We are proud to say that 70% of the world’s babies are drier and happier because of the hydrogel integrated into nappies, which is manufactured using our Flexomix technology.
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