Many industries utilize particle size reduction and separation as a regular part of their operations when processing bulk materials. These functions require equipment that can adequately deal with the physics behind such processing. Nearly a century ago, Prater Industries began making machinery to deal with particle size reduction and separation of materials. This equipment has since evolved and is now used for a myriad applications. Today, under the umbrella of the IMI Holding Corporation, Prater continues to make innovative machinery and offer our technical expertise. 

An Overview: Particle Size Reduction & Separation Equipment by Prater Industries

By definition, a particle is a distinct and separate segment of a material. These particles can be in solid, liquid or gaseous in form, and can be anywhere from an inch or more in size to microscopic elements smaller than a nanometer. Most often, equipment used for particle size reduction and separation is used for handling bulk solids, though such machinery can be made to deal with fluids or gases as well.

Particles can be classified into these three basic groupings: 

  • Solids in granule and powder form such as cement, ingredients for pharmaceuticals and pigments for paint.
  • Liquified particles in the form of emulsions, slurries and suspensions like milk, muds from mining activities and vaccines.

Industries that use equipment for particle size reduction and separation do so for a couple reasons. First, it improves the quality of the product being processed, which in turn allows businesses to charge more, reduce rejection rates by customers and comply with regulatory requirements. Second, through the understanding of a product and its constituent ingredients, processing can control a material’s properties, which can in turn improve the performance, increase output and optimize the efficiency of a product.

Benefits of Prater Equipment for Particle Size Reduction & Separation

Prater makes cutting-edge industrial equipment and systems for particle size reduction and separation, particularly for bulk solids and powders. The benefits of each piece of equipment are in their designs, which have been carefully engineered to handle specific issues for various processing applications and materials. Prater’s material processing equipment can be used to reduce, mill, grind and break lumps up as well as classify, separate, sift and size bulk materials. Some of this same Prater machinery can be used to feed, finish and blend these materials as well.  

Each piece of equipment made by Prater is designed to do the job for which it was made at the highest level of efficiency, and if it doesn’t do so as efficiently as a manufacturer requires, Prater’s technical staff has the knowledge and experience to see that it will. While basic Prater equipment is highly durable, dependable and easy to maintain, it’s also readily customizable to fit into larger systems and comes with the backing of Prater’s seasoned technical and engineering staff. If there’s something a specific piece of equipment needs to do better, it’s these people who are dedicated to making Prater’s machines work even better for any specific application.

Materials & Particle Types

The list of materials processed by Prater particle size reduction and separation equipment is endless, though each piece of equipment has its strengths in certain applications and with specific materials. Each piece of equipment also reduces particles to specific sizes and within given parameters while separating them accordingly.

Prater particle size reduction equipment includes:

  • Lump Breakers: Also known as a lump crusher or flake breaker, Prater’s lump breakers are used to break down agglomerated materials to ensure better flow of the material through the system, generally breaking these down just under two inches; materials it processes include detergents, non-dairy creamer and potassium. Prater also makes a quick-clean model of lump breaker that’s easier to clean and maintain, which can be used with materials such as clay, paper waste and sulfur.
  • Hammer mills: At the company’s inception, Prater began by making hammer mills, and its full-screen G-series hammer mills are used for reducing bulk materials into uniform granular particles. It’s used for a wide variety of materials, including wheat/grain, fibers, minerals, shelled and soy, resins and salts.
  • Mega Mill hammer mills: Designed to produce uniform particles between granulates made by Prater’s full-screen hammer mills and finer powders, the Mega Mill is used to reduce various materials like spices, barley, chalk, milo, oyster shells, sodium sulfate and wood flour.
  • M-Series fine grinders: Able to produce particles sized between 60 to 400 mesh with tight parameters for particle size distribution, Prater’s fine grinders are used in the processing of activated carbon, charcoal, gypsum, perlite, resins, fine sugars and other materials.
  • Air classifying mills: This mill produces ultra-fine particles – from 50 mesh to submicron levels – with very narrow distributions. It’s used for an array of applications that include the processing of boron nitrate, coffee, sugar, yellow peas, eggshells, flour, salt and yellow pigments.

Prater particle sizing and separation equipment include: 

  • Rotary sifters: Prater’s Rota-Sieve® uses centrifugal force to deal with much higher throughputs than sifters with comparable screen areas and is capable of sifting product down to 200 mesh without needing any anti-binding agents. It can be used with agglomerated material, granulated substances and free-flowing bulk powders.
  • Mini-split air classifiers: Capable of separating particles between 1 and 75 microns, mini-split air classifiers work best for smaller production runs and are often used to process materials like aluminum oxide, diatomaceous earth, magnesium oxide, nylon powder, quartz and silicon dioxide.
  • Vibratory screeners: With sizing capabilities between 6 inches (152.4 mm) to 40 mesh (420 microns), Prater’s vibratory screeners not only separate particles in multiple size ranges, they also remove foreign material and oversized particles while removing fines from the processing stream or segregating excess liquid from product. Prater’s vibratory screeners work well with abrasives, wood, gravel, limestone, oils, plastics, slurries, and other materials.
  • MAC air classifiers: Separating particles between 3 and 150 microns, Prater’s MAC air classifiers utilize centrifugal force within a pneumatic system to process materials like almond hulls, diatomaceous earth, calcium carbonate, calcite, dextrose, fumed silica, and mica.

There aren’t any materials that Prater’s particle size reduction and separation equipment can’t handle. Technical service representatives also constantly look for ways to make Prater equipment process material more efficiently.

Prater Technical Services

Prater’s technical services support customers who require particle size reduction and separation equipment. Not only will Prater’s technical staff help with choosing the right machinery for an application, but they will also offer assistance for startup manufacturers designing the best particle size reduction and separation system for their application. Additionally, they can help troubleshoot these system designs and advise on preventive maintenance.

Prater Industries is supported by a network of technical service representatives throughout North America. Prater as a result is renowned for its technical services, with well-trained representatives that can competently offer technical advice to solve real-world problems. Through careful analysis, Prater’s technical teams seek a true understanding of customers’ needs, using their skill, knowledge, and problem-solving abilities to come up with customized solutions that work best for their application.

Tips for Selecting the Right Particle Size Reduction Equipment

With nearly a century in the business of building particle size reduction and separation equipment, Prater has plenty of tools to assist manufacturers in making sure their equipment works optimally within a processing system. This includes literature like technical guides for Prater machinery, manuals regarding replacement components, case studies, blog posts, and articles in material handling industry magazines. Yet these aren’t the only tools available for manufacturers investigating Prater equipment.

Other tools that offer tips on finding the best Prater equipment for an application include:   

  • Airlock calculator that uses the results of several questions to calculate the necessary rotary airlock size based on aerated bulk density, required flow rate, rotations per minute, and the efficiency of the valve.
  • Equipment recommendation tool that asks about the particle size reduction requirements to suggest specific machinery.
  • Particle size comparison chart that helps in conversions between mesh and microns.

For further information on airlocks, customers can investigate their specifications for each model, options, dimensions and drawings, features, and capacity tables. In addition to these tools, Prater’s home page offers stylized drawings that show how their particle size reduction and separation equipment works. For more information about any of Prater’s particle size reduction and separation equipment, there’s also a catalog.

Common Questions About Prater’s Particle Size Reduction & Separation Solutions

Here are some common questions customers ask about Prater's solutions for particle size reduction and separation:

What is the best particle size for my material and application? 

This will depend on the material and application, though it’s the first step in determining the exact type of particle size reduction and separation machinery to use.

Which is the best machinery for my application? 

To determine this, it’s important to first establish what goals are necessary for particle size reduction and separation of the material, which entails reviewing the properties of the material being processed. Prater’s online equipment recommendation tool can help, as can the specifications within their online catalog. If the answer still isn’t readily evident, it may be time to ask one of Prater’s technical service representatives.

Is this machine just for smaller throughputs, or can it be scaled up? 

With any particle size reduction and separation system, a manufacturer should look not only at current needs but also how the business might expand in the future. A smaller machine may suffice for research and development activities, whereas a larger model may be necessary for mass production. If a company plans to concentrate on smaller throughputs, it’s best to buy equipment that will easily be able to process the largest expected batches of product. If the manufacturer plans to scale up operations, it should look at models that can process larger throughputs more quickly.

How safe is the machine and system? 

Safety features are an integral part of every piece of Prater equipment. Prater designs every machine to limit hazards that can result in injury, with an understanding that moving parts must have proper guards, and failsafe shutoffs when unintended access occurs, along with technology to control and prevent deflagrations from material dust. Above all, the safety of the workers who use our equipment is of utmost importance.

What’s required for cleaning and sanitizing the equipment? 

This is particularly important for food and drink processing companies, along with any other manufacturer that deals with material that will be ingested, such as pet food and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Not only do Prater designs make changeovers, cleaning, inspection, and maintenance easier, but they also help a material processing facility maintain regulatory compliance.

Getting Started with Prater

At Prater Industries, we seek to support our customers fully, whatever their processing needs. Whether you require information about components, field repairs, ordering replacement parts, preventive maintenance agreements, shipping inquiries, technical support, or something else, our experienced team can guide you to the solutions you need. To get started with Prater, call our customer service and support team at (844) 942-2966, our parts and service department at (855) 957-4608, or contact our expert team via email today.