The Milling Report

By Kerry Pianoforte, Ink World Associate Editor | 01.26.07

Milling and mixing equipment manufacturers have reported that increasing interest in UV, digital and nanotechnology is creating new opportunities.

Due to the unrelenting price increases in fuel and raw materials, ink manufacturers rely on their milling

Premier Mill’s Drum Mill.
equipment to make the most out of these pricey ingredients. This initial investment in milling equipment can translate into savings down the road. As the ink industry continues to register modest growth, 2006 proved to be a positive year for milling equipment manufacturers.
“We have seen great interest in our milling technology and growth in the ink industry over the past two years, and we have seen increased capital expenditures,” said George Murphy, national sales manager, Hockmeyer Equipment.
“The year 2006 was definitely opening up in regards to interest in equipment investing,” said Kerstin Grosse, account manager/industry specialist, Buhler Inc. “The year 2007 looks even more promising. Of major interest are more effective production techniques to make the most use of expensive raw materials like pigments.”
“We have noticed an upturn in activity and purchases from our ink customers,” added Stewart Rissley, national sales manager – Premier Mill Operation, SPX Process Equipment.
“We did sense better results from our ink customers. However, this has not translated into increased capital expenditures yet,” said Korkmaz Oz, sales engineer at Draiswerke. “Very promising projects have started out as a result of increased activity and positive expectations in the ink industry.”
“Our international ink business was stronger than our domestic in 2006,” said Emery Li, sales

Buhler Inc.’s MicroMedia Mill.
manager, Union Process. “We are hoping for a stronger ’07 in terms of domestic sales.”

Growth in UV and Digital

Although milling equipment manufacturers reported overall growth in all areas of the ink industry, UV and digital are areas that are currently receiving the most interest.
“UV inks, both offset and flexo, currently get the most interest,” said Ms. Grosse. “However, we at Buhler Inc. are also looking into the future, and digital inks are getting more and more attention, resulting in bigger batch sizes.”
According to Mr. Rissley, UV, flexo, gravure, offset and digital are some key areas for growth.
“Hockmeyer is seeing it across the board in all areas of the ink industry, but do agree there is more activity in the UV and digital markets,” said Mr. Murphy. “We attribute all the increased activity we are seeing to the demand of these ink products in the marketplace and the need for ink manufacturers to find more efficient ways for product processing.”
“Our best customers have been in the digital area although we have recently had some interest in the UV area as well,” said Mr. Li.
“We are seeing growth across all regions,” said Mr. Murphy. “Ink manufacturers for liquid, paste, UV, packaging and digital inks requiring nanoparticles are and have recognized our milling technology to be their future as it adds profits directly to the bottom line from the first day of start-up. We attribute this to our unique milling process and its ability to adapted to many milling process and requirements and most of all increase production rates by up to 50 percent compared to horizontal, both discrete and circulation type, mills.”

Reducing Particle Size

With an increasing interest in nanotechnology, customers are demanding newer technologies that will

Draiswerke’s DCP NanoStar.
help them create better dispersions by reducing particle size down to the nano scale.
“We are now focusing on higher percentages of the particles to be less than 100/200 nano-meters,” said Mr. Murphy. “To do this, and do it efficiently, you need to use a high energy mill with a good quality media in the size range of 0.4mm and smaller, depending on the application. You also need a mill that is designed with a media separator that can handle these smaller media and that can operate for extended periods of time with no screen clogging. Circulation-type mills are the best for nano milling. Most are designed to deliver high-energy and high circulation rates.”
“With particle size reduction and distribution concerns, efficient mixing and milling are always topics of conversation with our customers,” said Cathy Strahan, marketing director, Myers Engineering.
“Most customers are looking to improve their products by creating dispersions with reduced particle size distributions,” said Ken Langhorn, technical director, Charles Ross and Son. “We provide a wide variety of mixing equipment designed to generate high quality dispersions. Recent innovations like the Ultra High Shear - MegaShear and Solid Liquid Induction Technology - SLIM have shown the most growth.”
“Buhler Inc. is a very diversified company and we are in the comfortable situation to be a total service provider, when it comes to nanotechnology,” said Ms. Grosse. “With our latest invention, the MicroMedia Mill, a high-energy media mill which is capable in achieving truly nano-fine particles utilizing microfine grinding media, we can cover the equipment side.”

According to Ms. Grosse, Buhler can also cover the chemical side of nanotechnology with the help of its latest addition to the Buhler stable of products, Partec.
“Partec was founded in order to provide our customers help and service when it comes to customized solutions in surface modification of solids, supply of nano-fine powders and development and production of nano-fine masterbatches,” said Ms. Grosse. This total package is like a one-stop shopping when it come to realizing effective and successful solutions in nanotechnology fast.”

New Technology

Union Process’ DMQ-Mill.
Customers continue to challenge mill manufacturers to develop more efficient technology capable of smaller and finer particle size. Ink manufacturers are also looking for value-added products that will improve efficiencies and lower overall costs. Milling and mixing machinery companies are meeting these challenge with a number of innovative technologies.
“We have many technologies and configurations to meet the most demanding ink processing challenges,” said Mr. Rissley.    “Our basket mill technology and especially our drum mill for small batch production, easy clean-up and high product yields is hot now.”
“As always, our customers are looking for improved throughput, ease of operation and an overall lower capital investment,” said Mr. Li. “Our new DMQ-Mill is a hybrid between a circulation type mill and a small media mill. It was specifically designed to handle ink, paint and coatings projects.”
Hockmeyer helps its customers meet their requirement by offering a single process with one or two steps all taking place in the one tank from pre-mixing to milling. According to Mr. Murphy, by using its HSD Immersion Mill, products can be processed 30-50 percent faster with finer particle distributions.

“This is achieved due to the higher circulation rate of the mill achieving 100 turnovers in less time

Hockmeyer Equipment’s HSD Immersion Mill.
without all the pumps, hoses, tanks, agitators and no mechanical seals,” continued Mr. Murphy. “The HSD Immersion Mill can be designed as a stand-alone mill or with scraper arm, can be introduced into our dual or triple shaft mixer or we can supply it with two mills in one tank, with each mill utilizing different size media. This is the way we help our customer: offering a state-of-the-art process that is easier, faster with lower maintenance, less downtime with repeatability, and most importantly, doing all this and adding to the customer’s bottom line.”
Ms. Strahan noted that Myers continues to improve the use of their series 850. “The integrity of design of this machine offers users opportunities to improve their dispersion prior to milling,” Ms. Strahan said. “With overlapping disperser blades, the improved performance can be astounding.”
“Our latest development is certainly the MicroMedia mill for nanofine dispersions,” said Ms. Grosse. “It can be used for printing inks, digital ink, colorants, as well as specialty chemicals and electronic products. This machine covers the need for a machine that can handle ultra-fine grinding media in a size of 300 down to 20 microns.”
According to Ms. Grosse, Buhler creates efficient production solutions for all kinds of traditional printing ink by combining equipment to a more efficient production line. “Our engineering department is happy to help develop individual solutions depending on our customer’s needs.”

Charles Ross and Son’s Megashear.
Draiswerke’s DCP NanoStar provides the use of smallest grinding media (as small as 30) micron available in the market to produce nano particles, which are extremely important for ink jet inks, better cooling capabilities, which allow higher energy input for better grinding efficiency, the use of advanced high-tech materials for the construction of the internal components of the mill, which contribute to better temperature control and shorter processing times resulting in lower energy consumption, according to Mr. Oz.
By continuing to develop technologies that decrease processing times, consumer less energy, produce nanoparticles and improved cooling to achieve exact temperature control of the product, milling and mixing equipment manufacturers are meeting the key requirements of their customers and leading their companies to growth in the years to come.

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