TOPEKA, Kan.—The Banbury mixer turns 100 this October, and a century later it remains a vital part of the rubber industry.
Some of the reasons why it still is in wide use is the versatility of the machine, along with the improvements made to it over the years, according to Frank Borzenski, who retired at the beginning of 2015 as manager/director of product development and laboratories for HF Mixing Group.
He gave a presentation on the history and development of the Banbury Mixer during the recent International Mixing Seminar, held April 26-27 by HF Mixing in Topeka. A week before that at the spring meeting of the ACS Rubber Division in San Antonio, Texas, Borzenski received the Fernley H. Banbury Award for contributions in development of production equipment, control systems and instrumentation.
Fernley H. Banbury received his original patent on Oct. 2, 1916, and Borzenski spent much of his 45-year career working with the iconic tangential mixer. He was hired by Farrel Corp. in June 1969 and worked mostly at the firm's Ansonia, Conn., base, lasting through several ownership changes that brought Farrel and the Banbury mixer into the HF Group fold in early 2009.
And through all the changes to the design of the Banbury, Borzenski said the mixer remains a leader in the field and has been supported fully by all of the post-Farrel owners.
“The Banbury will mix a broad range of compounds,” he said during an interview at the mixing seminar in Topeka. “As the market changes, the standard machine has been able to mix these materials without a lot of change to the basic design.”
Despite a number of evolutionary improvements of the machine, the basic concept of feeding rubbers of all different forms, shapes and types—along with the corresponding chemicals and fillers—the Banbury still is able to mix and produce an acceptable product that works in many applications, he said.
For example, there are Banbury machines that mix floor tiles, rubber compounds, thermoplastic elastomers and even some in the pharmaceutical industry, mixing very high-temperature fluoropolymers. “It's the same machine, just different speeds and different operating parameters, but it works,” Borzenski said.