The basics of size reduction methods go back to when prehistoric humans used stones to powder charcoal, ocher, flowers, and other plants to create cave paintings and for other ritual purposes. Paints and dyes used similar reduction methods to decorate pottery and colored cloth in ancient times. Stone grinders have been used to mill flour and grind medicines from plants while also used for herbs, spices, and other flavor enhancers like sugar.
Our modern methods for reducing materials have been steeped in this technological development over the last several thousand years to become the bulk material processing industry. It’s this sector that provides products in an array of different particle sizes, from lumps to granulates to the finest of powders. To optimize the processing of these materials, flake and lump breaker machinery are constantly being refined. Today’s lump and flake breakers are often more efficient than equipment used in the past, but to keep it so takes careful consideration for the exact process involved, along with proper maintenance and servicing of the equipment.
An Overview: What Lump & Flake Breakers Do
Lump breakers - also called flake breakers or lump breakers - belong to a class of lump-breaking equipment designed to process various bulk solid materials, including chemicals, coal, fertilizer, grains, ingredients for food, pharmaceuticals, powdered paints, and soap. They do so by applying forces that abrade, compress, impact, or shear material to reduce particle size to a desirable range for the application.
As each material and application has differing requirements for reduction, the techniques used will vary, though the result is essentially the same. Flake breakers are designed to process specific materials to certain particle size distributions at measured and reliable throughput rates. The type of lump breaker machinery thus varies from material to material and application to application.
Benefits of using lump or flake breakers include:
- Breaking down lumps of material
- Granulating minerals
- Making materials more consistent and uniform
- Speeding the mixing process
- Streamlining handling throughout a material processing system
- Reduce operator fatigue from manually delumping raw ingredients
These lump breaker machines are also often multifunctional, offering considerable flexibility for material processing applications.
Common Applications for Flake & Lump Breaker Machinery
Flake-breaking equipment offers an economical way to treat materials that have been compacted due to blending, storage, or transport. Applying impact and shear forces to bulk materials creates a more uniform size distribution, contributing to a better flow. It’s a key aspect of many industries that require particle size uniformity during processing and handling bulk materials. Flake breakers are often used to promote or alter various states of material through deagglomeration, which enhances conveyancing, adds value to the end product, and aids efficient shipping. To get the most out of lump breaker machines, it’s important first to understand some of their basic tasks.
After prolonged storage or during transport, materials often compress, becoming denser as gravity draws finer particles lower while larger particles stay at or near the top. Humidity and moisture causes material to chunk, resulting in hardened lumps that take more energy to reduce.
Material handling is a major part of the bulk processing industry. Raw materials flow better when they're deagglomerated for conventional belt conveyors and other means of conveyance. This leads to more efficient conveyancing and mitigates equipment breakdowns in cases where larger lumps might stick in a rotary airlock valve or other metering device. Drier powders that are better conditioned by lump breaker machines also allow for a smoother flow of product.
Generally, lump breaker machinery adds value to material handled later by other equipment, debulking product to make size reduction more efficient for downstream mills. Flake breakers use energy more efficiently than other reduction equipment, lowering a manufacturer’s energy costs. Consider the screening apparatus of downstream equipment, for example. Materials like sugar or salt tend to form solid masses that can prevent material from passing through the screen or even clogging it completely. This can impair the screening equipment’s normal operation, often damaging the screen’s mesh and the sieve. Using a flake breaker to reduce such materials increases the efficiency of an operation and helps prevent breakdowns.
Not only do lump breaker machines help with handling, but they also aid in transporting raw materials. Breaking down agglomerates makes shipping more efficient, saving manufacturers money on shipping fees and reducing energy usage. Breaking down large lumps in some cases is essential, though in all cases, bulk materials are easier to ship once reduced.
Things to Consider When Choosing Lump & Flake Breaker Machines
Flake breaker equipment handles an array of materials, whether these materials are pliable, inflexible, saturated, desiccated, viscous, or friable. Built for demanding applications and operating under harsh conditions, flake-breaking machinery can handle solid, lumped, chunked, and agglomerated feed material. Lump breaker machines are often included in a larger material handling system, so unlocking their potential depends partly on their placement.
Commonly, flake breakers are positioned where raw materials are discharged. These machines break up oversized lumps of solids that can plug up screens and interrupt material flow at choke points throughout a processing system. In this sense, they act as a household garbage disposal unit, breaking down larger lumps of material before sending it to the next stage. While basic laws of physics apply, to maximize equipment potential, lump breaker machinery should be thoroughly tested for the application.
For all the talk of efficiency in the material handling industry, the particle size reduction process isn’t very efficient. For this reason, energy must be used as cost-effectively as possible to unleash the potential of a lump breaker. Machinery involved in particle size reduction must utilize the most suitable reduction techniques for the material and application. This relates to the relationship between material stress, which refers to the force applied, and material strain, which is the deformation that occurs due to the force applied.
Maintaining lump breaker machinery used to be a laborious and demanding process. Older models of these machines required the removal of heavy end plates using tools, which included pulling the end plate off. Next came the cumbersome task of removing the rotor and cleaning the whole piece of equipment before finally reassembling the lump breaker. Some older machinery even had to be removed from the production line entirely.
Machines that break down lumps in products these days can be done in a much more user-friendly manner, with quick cleaning options for flake breakers. Yet, to get the most out of lump breaker machines, maintenance needs to be done fastidiously. The time and labor involved in servicing and maintaining a flake breaker will also affect the machine running up to its highest potential. For this reason, the overall design of lump breaker machinery should be carefully considered. The ease of disassembly and reassembly play an important role in determining that a machine is working at its highest capacity.
Unlocking the Potential of Lump & Flake Breakers
To unlock a lump breaker machine’s potential, it’s important first to understand how it works. Next, the material and application should be considered, along with carefully considering where it should be incorporated in a material handling system. An output analysis will help optimize the equipment's energy efficiency, while the flake breaker's maintenance and operation should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. In this way, a bulk material processor will get the most out of their lump-breaking machinery.
To learn more about our flake and lump breaker machinery, including how to maintain its potential, contact our team today.