Bart Sacco, president of Concrete Texturing Tool; Supply in Throop, Pennsylvania, explains how he solved color problems by blending decorative concrete products in-house using a Rotary Batch Mixer from Munson Machinery.
When our previous suppliers of our decorative concrete materials changed their product formulas, we started receiving customer complaints. The changes in product formulas affected workability and coverage rates. That caused dozens of our colors to shift. That’s when we decided to blend our materials in-house.
We formed a separate division called Kingdom Products and built a state-of-the-art blending facility that allows us to eliminate these problems. Uniform blending and batch-to-batch consistency are critical to our success, but we also need fast cycle times and quick clean-out to prevent cross-contamination between changeovers. In addition, some of the company’s products are abrasive, so the new machine also needed to resist wear–all of which pointed to a Rotary Batch Mixer from Munson Machinery. Kingdom Products chose a 50 cubic foot Munson Rotary Batch Mixer, consisting of a horizontal rotating drum with a stationary inlet and outlet at opposite ends.
As the drum rotates, internal mixing flights and lifters tumble, fold, cut and turn the material in a multi-directional manner, achieving batch uniformity in just 2 minutes. Kingdom’s mixer includes an optional intensifier–critical to homogenized blending of pigments throughout a batch of cement. The lifters in the continuously rotating drum elevate the material, preventing segregation of the batch upon discharge through a stationary plug gate valve, and promoting total evacuation with no residual. We blend different grades of quartz, sand and aggregate from 100, 200, and 325 mesh all the way up to quarter-inch chunk rock. The finest is down in the silicate flour range.
We also blend a variety of additives such as pigments, plasticizers, and other ingredients, contained in our hardeners that are available in 40 colors. Totes containing batch ingredients are moved via forklift to the blending station where the material is emptied into the blender. Additive mixtures, including pigments, are then introduced and a pre-blend cycle is run prior to the final blend. Once a batch is blended thoroughly, it is discharged into a tote and moved to a finished goods station. Because all materials are dry, the blender never sees water and clean-up is minimal. The interior is simply brushed and vacuumed between batches.
Kingdom Products recently purchased this 1.13 cubic meter model used. Despite being stored outside for more than two years, the machine was free of problems. After repainting the framework and installing new seals, which took only one hour, the machine was ready for installation. The company estimates that these Munson machines will last about 5 times longer than ribbon-style blenders before any wear components need to be replaced. The mixers are positioned head to head, so that a tubular drag conveyor can feed raw goods directly into both mixers, effectively doubling output.
Kingdom Products has built strong relationships with its customers and considers their feedback when developing new products. For example, a number of installers asked for a material with improved adhesive strength that would cling better and dry more slowly, which led to the recent development of the company’s vertical stamp mix. To develop a new mix, the Kingdom Products test lab uses a miniature version of Munson’s large-scale Rotary Batch Mixer.
New formulations are first run in this 3 cubic foot Munson Rotary Batch Mini Mixer, which is equipped with an intensifier, and represents the results that both large blenders will produce. New formulations are ramped up using the Mini Mixer to blend a few hundred grams for lab testing, to a few hundred pounds for field testing, before production moves to the 40 and 50 cubic foot mixers to produce 3,000-4,000 pound batches.