Homogenizer Recommendation

I'd like a recommendation for a homogenizer for lab/small-scale manufacturing use. I know that Silverson is popular here, but I can't find any for sale right now. Is there an equivalent? I see lots of IKA Ultra-Turrax and Polytron Kinematica homogenizers for sale new and used on eBay, but I don't know if they are any good (or as good as Silverson). I'd like to keep it under $2K if possible.

Thanks!

Comments

  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Silversons are the gold standard because they scale up into production so well, and are extremely versatile. I have personally used Ross homogenizers, Admix Rotostats, Omni-Mixers, and IKA Ultra-Turax homogenizers at various times, and they all can get the job done, but not as well as a Silverson. If I had to choose from what I could find on Ebay right now, for under $2,000, I'd get the Rotostat.


    There are other places to get used equipment:http://www.labx.com/item/silverson-bench-top-homogenizer-model-l4r-s-s/LV30787730


    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Let's say I bought a Silverson L4 without the probe. Where would I get that piece? It seems like the probe is often more expensive than the motor.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    That's sometimes true. To avoid liability, many of the used Silversons are sold without the rotor/stator assembly. Unfortunately for those of us looking to buy a used Silverson, the removed assemblies are destroyed or recycled.

    The only place I've ever found to get the Rotor/Stator was direct from Silverson. If I remember correctly, they were between $800 - $1,500, depending on what you needed.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like Silverson's advantage is their probes--they have a 2-stage system that breaks down larger particles and then breaks them down again into a much smaller dispersion. Is that right? If so, I wonder why nobody else is doing the same thing. When I went on IKA's website to look at their homogenizers, they specifically mention that you often have to change the probe to break larger particles into smaller ones. I don't know if that really applies with cosmetics though.

    Finding a used Silverson is a real PITA :(
  • AnnalisaBAnnalisaB Member, PCF student
    edited March 2016
    Hello all,

    I am considering buying a Silverson L5MA lab mixer, with included these workheads: (General Purpose Disintegrating Head, Square Hole High Shear Screen, Emulsor Screens and Axial Flow Head).

    As this is going to cost around 5500$, I was wondering instead if buying these 2 together (homogenizer and stirring overhead) would be an equivalent solution and worth it:

    1) Homogenizer:
    D500 Homogenizer Package. Includes DS-500/2 generator probe, for water in oil or oil in water emulsions,
    volumes 10- 50000ml and H-600 stand.


    2) Stirrer:

    OS20-S LED Digital Overhead Stirrer


    I will work on 2L batches. I will mostly use Olivem 1000 as an emulsfier

    Thank you for your advise!

    Annalisa
  • AnnalisaBAnnalisaB Member, PCF student
    anyone? :)
  • @AnnalisaB: Honestly, I don't know. It would probably work. I ended up buying the pricey Silverson because it has a good reputation here. I can usually get away with mixing my test samples with a $10 mini hand mixer, so I see no reason why you can't save yourself some money and get a cheaper mixer & homogenizer.
  • AnnalisaBAnnalisaB Member, PCF student
    @thebrain thank you for your reply. In your experience, does the Silverson work both as homogenizer (with high shear) and mixer (with controllable speed)?

    Thank you in advance
  • @AnnalisaB: Yes, it can function as a mixer because it has very precise speed control; however, it works differently from an overhead mixer. There are going to be some applications where a mixer is going to work better than a homogenizer, and vice versa. It sounds like you want to make lotions with it. For that application, I think the Silverson is perfect.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    edited March 2016
    The Silverson does not do well when you want a low speed, low shear mixer, as you might need for a lotion cool down phase. You can substitute the overhead mixer for manual stirring instead, but it's not a fun job.

    There are Chinese versions of Silverson/Ross mixers available on Ebay for remarkably low prices. You might want to look into them before committing to a $5,000 or more purchase:




    .


    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    Thank you for the excellent post, Bob.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Thanks. The trick is that they're not listed under "homogenizers".
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    We expect to go into the second phase of our startup once our brand is registered, and one of those will be the first thing I buy, together with an overhead stirrer. I've decided to change our hot process shampoo back to cold process. It costs more in ingredients but I calculate that avoiding the need to heat, extra time, etc. it will be about the same and allow me to avoid investing in giant heated tanks. 
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • Those Chinese machines are so cheap that even if it doesn't work for you, it's not a huge loss. For that same reason, I bought a cheap Chinese magnetic stirrer on eBay for $80. A trusted name brand is $400+, but the difference in price made it worth trying. The product does work as advertised, but it's nearly impossible to use for more than an hour because it smells like it was made in a glue factory and I can't remove the smell no matter how many times I wash it. The vendor is in China and doesn't care. I can't send it back because the shipping would be more than the stirrer itself.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my experience with the cheap Chinese equipment on eBay. If you need a recommendation for a good overhead stirrer, I'd recommend Caframo--that's what I bought, along with the Silverson.
  • PharmaSpainPharmaSpain Member, PCF student
    The problem I see with chinese products is warranty and assistance. It is true that price is not comparable but 450$ into the rubbish is more expensive than 4500$ working. isn´t it?

    Also we should keep in consideration the homogenization quality and droplet size... some experience? 

    I am very interested in buying an homogenizer and start a cosmetic line and Bob chinese links were amazing but putting 450$ in something seeing only a picture....Bob, do you test them or know someone who did it?

    What do you think about ultrasonic homogenizers. Advantages/disadvantages with high shear homogenizers? In theory, homogenization quality is better as droplet size is lower, isn´t it? I do not find too much information but is seems an interesting tachnology. Do you know why is not widely used?
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Ultrasonic homogenizers have run into a couple of problems. One, there are very few production-sized ones installed anywhere, so if you're trying to scale-up properly from lab batches, you have to spend a huge amount of money to buy a new production emulsifier. Two is that there are some doubts as to how well/predictably the batches scale-up from lab size, so there's going to need to be time and effort invested in learning the quirks of the process. Not a good combination.

    As for prices of emulsifiers - the same type of machine configuration/geometry/speed will produce the same type of emulsion. So, if you are just starting out on a limited budget and need a proof-of concept, or a machine to make prototypes with, $450 seems like a better choice, even if the machine breaks after a year or two.

    The $6 - $8k you spend on a Silverson will buy you a machine that's pretty well guaranteed to last you 20 - 30 years. If you're certain you will use one throughout those 20 years, it's a good investment. If there's some doubt about the longevity of your project, it probably makes more sense to buy the cheap one first, then keep it for a backup after you buy a Silverson in a year or two.

    I haven't personally worked with any of those models, but I've bought chinese-made lab stirrers, and they were ok.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • PharmaSpainPharmaSpain Member, PCF student
    Thanks Bob!

    About quality homogenization, it surprised me when you said: "the same type of machine configuration/geometry/speed will produce the same type of emulsion". Has not Silverson proved a better homogenization process? Of course, same system is going to produce almost the same, but are chinesse products using the same high shear system?

    About ultrasonication: I know it is not an standard process (that is why i asked myself...something happens) when doing very big batches, but in this web ( https://www.hielscher.com/power-ultrasound-for-the-production-of-cosmetics.htm ) you can read for example that they have models to produce up to 100L. I think a small-medium company produce less that that each time (excluding soaps and big bottles products). If you need more, just run the machine 2 or 3 times (not a lot of clean process is required with ultrasonics I think).
     
    They also say that scale-up is one of the advantages of this system....of course they try to sell their products but if they "highlight" this point I suppose there is a little bit of "true"...or maybe not haha but i would not highlight a disadvantage as advantage (I would just not say a word)

    you told you tried chinese-made lab stirres. Could you tell us brand-model. It is a big help to know where to trust?

    Thanks for your great job here in the forum, Bob.


  • AnnalisaBAnnalisaB Member, PCF student
    Oh, I really don't know how to thank ALL! The information you gave and discussions help me a lot. And I am sure  it will help anyone that stumbles on this discussion!

    Thanks!
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    OK, a little basic chemical engineering.
    (By the way, the machines the dairy industry calls homogenizers? Nothing to do with what we use for cosmetics)

    The high-shear mixer/homogenizers we use in the cosmetic industry come in two basic types. The first, and older technology is the Arde-Barinco/Gifford-Wood style. This uses a high-speed, sharp-edged rotor that pumps material through a fixed gap between it and a sharp-edged stator. This type of system sacrifices a certain amount of shear for pumping action, and adjustability for robustness.

    The second type is the Silverson/Ross mixers and their chinese imitators. This type of system gets more shear from pumping through a smaller gap and many smaller holes. It's much more adjustable, has higher shear available, but doesn't pump as well/efficiently, and is a little easier to break. (Don't ask me how I know that, please)

    There's a third type, the admix rotosolver, but it's fairly uncommon in cosmetics.

    All three types are more or less interchangeable, and only require adjustments in speed/time to produce very similar results. Models within each type are easily interchangeable, and should produce identical results when identical parameters are used.

    It's not difficult to tell what type you're buying - just examine the mixing head closely.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
    The IKA Turrax and Lab Depot Scilogex homogenizers are much, much closer to Silversons than they are to Arde-Barincos.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • BartJBartJ Member
    Just want to say thanks for the knowledge you bring. This website is one of those rare places on the web.

    I'm currently buying a refurbished Silverson FX and it's got the general purpose head coming with it. 
    Considering that my main goal here is to create emulsions. What other heads should I get from the company?

    The current brochure, the heads are on page 5: 
    http://www.silverson.com/images/uploads/documents/Silverson_Brochure_US.pdf

    I was thinking that the square hole high shear would be the most important one for me. 


  • MakingSkincareMakingSkincare Member, Professional formulator
    Yes square hole high shear.
    Jane Barber
    www.makingskincare.com
    www.learncosmeticformulation.com (free online course)
    Formulation discussion forum (18,000 members): www.facebook.com/groups/makingskincare/
  • manstramanstra Member
    edited July 2016
    I have a Silverson AX-1 for batches from 0,5kg - 50kg and even 100kg for low viscosity shampoos. I use it both as a small scale / R&D test mixer and as a small production apparatus in my lab. I bought it 3 years ago and until now I haven't had any issues. I produce hair conditioners, shampoos and cream emulsions using solely the square hole high shear head.

    The difference between R&D batches and scaled up ones is the rotor speed I use. For a shampoo system of 3500 brookfield I use for a small scale batch of 1kg 800rpm and for production of 50kg 2800rpm. 

    If i had to opt for a new machinery Silverson will be again my first choice. I have to say through that there are occasions that I need the more rpm that an IKA mixer offers. Making microemulsions is easier in an IKA machine and then you can easily add it as part of a formula in a larger scale production using a Silverson high shear mixer
  • MakingSkincareMakingSkincare Member, Professional formulator
    @PharmaSpain I'm curious what you bought in the end and whether you were happy with it.
    Jane Barber
    www.makingskincare.com
    www.learncosmeticformulation.com (free online course)
    Formulation discussion forum (18,000 members): www.facebook.com/groups/makingskincare/
  • PharmaSpainPharmaSpain Member, PCF student
    edited September 2017
    Hi @MakingSkincare Sorry for the late reply. I have not been in the forum for a while and I did not receive the mail notification :S
    I finally bought the Silverson L5M-A. I am quite happy with him, He is strong enough and very versatile if need it thanks to all the accessories you could have. Having a Silverson is a quality guarantee and more people can offer you support because it is a wide used brand. It is a hard machine and I hope it will be with me almost the rest of my professional life :)

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