How to Choose the Right Mixer Agitator

April 9, 2020

3 Min Read
How to Choose the Right Mixer Agitator
Marion welded paddle mixer

Confused about which agitator to choose for your customized mixer? You’re not alone. Turns out, many customers have the same concern, and rightly so, because it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make. That’s because the configuration of the mixer’s agitator has a lot to do with minimizing your mix time, ensuring effective evacuation at discharge and optimizing the blend.

Here are some helpful tips to help you make the right choice.

Paddle Mixers
Paddle-style agitators are specially designed to scoop, lift, and tumble in a gentle but thorough mixing action, and are ideal for mixing solids or liquids of various particle size, density, and viscosity. While being mixed, the material travels in a three-dimensional figure 8 pattern. The material is constantly being pulled from the ends of the mixer to the middle of the figure 8, where the most aggressive mixing action is taking place. Another benefit of paddle mixers is that they can work effectively when filled to as little as 20% of rated capacity, thus allowing flexibility of batch sizes. Paddle-style agitators also allow easier access for cleaning between batches.

Ribbon Mixers
Double ribbon mixers can perform a variety of mixing operations. These agitators are excellent for free-flowing materials that are of like size, shape, and density. In mixes with small agglomerates, the greater shearing action of a ribbon mixer can also be beneficial. Ribbon mixers are designed for thorough end-to-end mixing with inner spirals pushing product away from the discharge, while the outer flightings pull material back toward the discharge opening. Each helix spiral is positioned 180 degrees out of phase. Here, the mixing action occurs by scrubbing the material back and forth across itself. The additional flighting of a double ribbon provides twice the mixing action of a single ribbon mixer.   

A continuous ribbon is preferred over a segmented ribbon as the inner and outer flights form a continuous helix from the end-plate to the discharge. Segmented ribbons only span from spoke to spoke causing gaps in the flighting, which interrupts product flow and creates pockets of stagnant material. 

Hybrid Mixers
Hybrid agitators combine the tumble action of paddles with the rolling pattern of ribbons to create a double reversing effect.   

These mixer agitators are especially effective with materials that tend to mound in the center of the mixer, thus creating a more even product level throughout the mixer. Hybrid agitators can be configured with either paddles or a ribbon on the inside or outside depending on the application. 

While accurate mix times are truly application specific, regardless of agitator selection, the general rule of thumb is an average blend time between 3-7 minutes (after the last ingredient is added), depending on the volume being mixed. Choosing the correct agitator configuration for your application is crucial for optimizing your blend, minimizing your mix time, and ensuring effective evacuation at discharge. 

Marion Process Solutions (Marion, IA) has more than 80 years of experience designing agitators. For more information, call 800-397-6371 or visit

Here are more articles that may interest you:

How to Find the Right Mixer for Your Application
Powder Mixing Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Mixer Selection: 3 Tips for Success
Benefits of Tumble Blenders and Dryers
Mixing Strategies for High-Solids Applications


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