Shredding, Grinding, or Granulating – Which is right for me?
Often, the terms grinder, shredder, and granulator are used interchangeably. So what is the difference and why does it matter? Perhaps the best way to approach this is to answer the “why does it matter?” question first. Buying a shredder when you really needed a grinder, or visa-versa, could cost you thousands of dollars in the purchase of a machine that just will not work for your application, or will not provide the production rates that your processing requires. Machines that perform size reduction processes can cost tens of thousands of dollars. There’s no room for mistakes. An expert analysis of your application can save you thousands on equipment costs by helping you select the right piece of equipment. With that in mind, let’s help you determine what you really need.
The full answer to this question is a bit more involved, but it basically depends on two factors; 1) what is the material you need to reduce and 2) what kind (size) of end product do you require? These two factors will determine whether your money is best invested in a shredder, a grinder, or a granulator – or perhaps even a combination of two or more machines. The only way to make this determination is to analyze the material you need to reduce. You can speak with an experienced applications engineer at Jordan Reduction Solutions to begin the decision making process. They have over 150 years of application experience in the installation of various type machines for diverse applications.
Let’s start with your material… Is it plastic, paper, rubber, PVC, MSW, C&D, medical waste, or something else? Next, determine what you want to do with it. Do you need it reduced to larger pieces, say 2” in size or do you need it reduced to something smaller; lets say – 3/8” or smaller. Those are the primary questions you will need to answer to determine the machine you will need. However; with a few simple guidelines, you should be able to determine it from the following:
So, you think you may need a “shredder” – but what does shredding actually do. Shredding is normally carried out in a machine that is “low speed and high torque”. A shredder is designed to take large components and shred them down to random, smaller components – normally in the range of 1” – 2” and larger. Most often, a shredder is selected if you want to do any of the following:
- Reduce a product down for compacting of space in haul off applications to a landfill.
- Reduction of items such as tires to larger chips for fuel, drain fill, etc…
- The reduction of paper or confidential documents to pieces unrecognizable in regard to their former condition.
- Reduction of plastics for washing
- Destruction of product of liability issues
- Or the preparation of the product for another application.
The above is not all inclusive of course, but it does comprise the most common applications for shredding. Jordan Reduction Solutions has some very good video on their website that illustrates just what a shredder can do for you. You can see more technical information about various shredder machines and processes on the Industrial Shredder page. And, you can see the shredder video pages to see them in action on various products.
While we often interchange the terms “shredding” and “grinding“, the actual process and the end product yielded, could not be further apart. Grinding, most simplistically stated, is the shaving, chipping or “grinding” of small pieces off of a larger piece. Or in the case of size reduction, grinding off small pieces until the original part is in thousands of smaller consistent chips, usually less than 1/4” to 1/2”. You can see the various grinder machines manufactured by Jordan Reduction Solutions on the Product Grinder web page. So, what applications are best for grinding? There are many…
- Grinding large rejected parts back to smaller chips that can then be recycled into making more parts.
- Reducing larger raw materials to chips that can be mixed with other compounds to make new components.
- Reducing organic materials for bio-fuels production.
- Grinding carpet and other textiles for fiber reclamation.
Essentially, grinding is an application used to take any larger raw or rejected material and process it in the grinder to obtain a small enough particle, chip or fiber suitable for the manufacturing of other components parts. The best example being to grind a raw or rejected piece of rubber or plastic so it can be used to make things like bottles, tires, or those neat storage bins we all have in the garage. To get a better idea of how a grinder works, check out the grinder videos to see a rubber grinder and plastic grinder in action.
Granulators are perhaps the most commonly confused machines with grinders, as they essentially do the same thing; they take larger components and make them smaller. Perhaps the best way to know if you need a granulator is to determine how small you want your discharged component to be. Granulators have the ability to reduce certain materials to a much smaller particle size than a grinder. The reason for this is that a granulator differs in design significantly from a grinder in the following ways:
- Most all granulators have an “open rotor” design. This means that there is a great deal of air space around the rotor for product agitation and cooling. The open rotor allows for better processing of lighter materials that would not be well suited for a closed rotor design.
- Many Grinders on the other hand, especially the type of grinders offered by Jordan Reduction Solutions, have closed rotor designs. Meaning the rotor is closed, high speed and very tight tolerances. These type rotors leave little room for the product being process to go anywhere other than across the cutting edges.
There are advantages to both designs mentioned above, but simply put; each design is more applicable to specific products.
- A granulator, with an open rotor type design, is normally more applicable in taking small components in the ½” to 6” or 8” sizes and reducing them to much smaller chips than a grinder would be used to do. Often in the range of producing 5/16” flake to even powders.
- Granulators are often used as an after process for materials that have been size reduced previously.
- Granulators are well suited for lighter materials such as plastic bottles which do not grind well in a closed rotor design unit.
All of this is a large amount of information to consider when selecting the proper machine for your size reduction needs. And often, so many products can cross over from one machine to the next. In considering your needs, the best way to determine your needs is to answer the following questions:
- What material am I trying to reduce?
- What is the size of the material that will be fed into the size reduction unit?
- How much per hour will I need to do?
- How small do I want the final product to be?
So, grinder vs shredder vs granulator? Once you have answered these questions, application engineers who are experienced in size reduction of materials, such as those at Jordan Reduction Solutions, can help you determine the correct answer.