Another optional feature of the in-line mixing system is an in-line heater. In most textile machines, this heater has a capacity of 4.5 kilowatts (kW) to 1.8 kW and a volume of 2 liters (l) to 3 l. The contact parts typically are Inconnel high-nickel stainless steel or glass, which do not react unfavorably with the chemical mix.
The PLC is the brain of the static in-line mixer. It controls the machine and provides and stores important process information such as amount produced, time of makeup or destination.
The PLC panel of an in-line mixing machine is its "brain."
Realize just-in-time mixing.
Use more high-performance products.
Save on labor and transport expenditures.
Gain remote access.
The most important benefit of the in-line mixer is that it allows users to mix chemicals just in time. Traditional mixers usually make large batches of each emulsion. Often, these emulsions sit in storage awaiting use. Bacteria growth can taint the emulsions, ruining them.
Just-in-time mixing allows users to make smaller amounts of each emulsion and use the chemical compounds as they are needed. Because the smaller batch uses a lesser quantity of chemical compounds, users can afford to purchase higher-quality chemical compounds.
Another benefit of in-line mixing is accuracy. PLCs and mass flowmeters ensure the mixer produces the exact same emulsion every time. Users of in-line mixers can be confident they will produce a consistent and high-quality product.
The automated in-line mixing system and just-in-time mixing reduce labor requirements and transportation costs. Because in-line mixers allow products to be made on-site, users do not have to rely on other companies to mix and then ship large highly diluted batches of chemicals. Instead, they can purchase the concentrated chemicals and make the dilution on-site. As a result, companies that use in-line mixers quickly recoup the initial investment in the machinery through cost savings.
In-line mixing also offers the opportunity for remote control. The automated system can be connected to a centralized control center or accessed by modem. Remote capabilities allow users to monitor the mixer's operation from anywhere with phone access, whether the mixer is in the same building or on the opposite side of the globe. Users also can choose to outsource monitoring to the chemical provider or to control it internally. In addition, basic troubleshooting and repairs can be controlled from afar.
One of the in-line mixer's advantages is its small footprint.
Static in-line mixers offer numerous benefits not only to the textile industry, but also to other industries. As static in-line mixing technology advances, its benefits will become more important. Furthermore, static in-line mixing is adaptable to changing user needs and technologies.
This technology has clear applications in segments of the chemical industry, including synthetic lubricants, agricultural chemicals and adhesives. The mixing process in these industries can be similar to the ones used in textiles ," the chemical ingredients account for the only change. As improvements are made in the in-line mixing process, the static in-line mixer eventually will be able to handle small solid particles such as powders, flakes and pellets.
Further improvements in in-line mixing machines will be process-specific, and each machine will be engineered specifically to meet the needs of the industry and user.
Anderson is a mechanical engineer and is chemical systems manager for Cognis Corp.'s textiles division in Charlotte, N.C. He developed a static-inline mixer and has a number of patents related to plastics and textiles and plastics. Contact him at (704) 945-8830.