Hielscher Ultrasound Technology

High-Performance Paint Homogenizers

Ultrasonic mixers are a reliable tool to homogenize, disperse, and emulsify liquid paint formulations. Ultrasonic homogenizers not only produce highly stable, uniform paint emulsions and dispersions, but ultrasonicators are also used to mill and grind pigments, nanomaterials and primary particles. The wide range of capabilities of ultrasonic homogenizers makes ultrasonicators the most sophisticated paint mixing equipment available.

Paint Homogenization, Dispersion, and Emulsion

Blue pigment powder before ultrasonic dispersion into a paint formula Homogenization is applied to reduce particle size of solids or droplets in order to facilitate the production of stable high-quality emulsions and dispersions. In the formulation of paints, coatings, and varnishes, a uniform particle size is crucial for even results in coloration, application behaviour and functionality of the paint or coating formulation.

Ultrasonic Paint Homogenizers for Dispersion and Emulsion Formulations

Ultrasonic high-shear mixers are ideal for homogenization, emulsification and solubilization applications, where particle or droplet size and uniform distribution are critical for paint performance and quality.
Ultrasonication is the preferred technology of homogenization, since the intense acoustic cavitation of high-power ultrasound is able to break molecules reliably down to a uniform particle distribution in the micron- and nano-range. Ultrasonic homogenization is the most sophisticated technique to produce nano- and micron-sized particles. The size of the particles (e.g., pigments, oils, waxes, additives etc.) can be individually adjusted by applying the right amount of ultrasonic intensity.
Furthermore, ultrasonic dispersion can lead to surface modification of pigments resulting a significantly increased dispersion stability.

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The video is demonstrating ultrasonic dispersion of red color using the UP400St with a S24d 22mm probe.

Ultrasonic Red Color Dispersion using the UP400St

High-pwer ultrasound is a reliable dispersing and wet-milling technique applied for the producation of paints, high-performance coatings, and varnishes

Industrial ultrasonic processor UIP16000 (16kW) for the production of paints and nanofillers

Ultrasonic Paint Homogenizers for

  • water-based paints
  • solvent-based paints
  • emulsion paints
  • dispersion paints
  • latex dispersions
  • wax emulsions
  • high pigment loadings
  • glossy emulsion paints
  • suspoemulsions (mixture of suspension and emulsion)
  • high-performance coatings
  • varnishes
  • polymer formulations
  • enamels
  • nano-particle additives
  • abrasive particles
  • mini-emulsion polymerization

Ultrasonic Dispersion of Nanofillers

Nano-sized fillers are incorporated into coatings such as polymers or resins . Such nanofillers can considerable improve mechanical properties, e.g. UV resistance, scratch resistance, stiffness and toughness / tensile strength of certain materials. The main difference between conventional micron-sized fillers and nano-sized fillers is the high specific surface ratio and thereby complete changed characteristics of the nanofillers. Nanomaterials (e.g., nano-scale fillers) must be uniformly dispersed into a paint or coating formulation, so that the full surface area can interact with its surrounding matrix. Only when dispersed as single dispersed nano-particles, nanofillers can express their extraordinary material properties. Ultrasonic homogenizers and dispersers are the superior mixing technology to detangle, deagglomerate and evenly disperse nanoparticles such as nanofillers into a matrix (e.g., polymers, epoxies or resins). Since ultrasonic shear forces break inter-particle bondings, every particle get single dispersed into the matrix and enfolds its full properties. Thereby, ultrasonic dispersion and homogenization is the most reliable method for the production of high-performance coatings.

The ultrasonic dispersion technique has many advantages in comparison with traditional milling technologies such as three-roll, ball or media mills. (Click to enlarge!)

Ultrasonic dispersing has significant advantages against conventional milling techniques

Ultrasonic Dispersion of Latex Emulsion

Although latex paints are not the most complicated paint formulation to prepare, it still must be carefully prepared and all components of a latex formulation must be added in a selected order. In the first preparation step, a basic paint suspension is prepared. Therefore, pigments are dispersed in water with wetting agents, antifoaming agents and other additives required for the specific formulation recipe. Titanium dioxide (TiO2) pigments are usually dispersed first and then the extender pigments added. For most formulas, the order and measure of addition of these compounds is an essential, quality-influencing factor. Mostly, high-speed blade / rotary mixers, which are the most conventional method of latex emulsification, are used for wetting and dispersing the particles. With blade or rotary mixers, the mixing of a consistent base formula is a time-consuming effort. Subsequently, the latex emulsion is added to the mixture and incorporated by a significantly lower level of mixing energy. Latex emulsions are prone to coalesce or break and require a mild homogenizing conditions. Already pre-dispersed thickeners are then added to adjust the viscosity of the final latex paint emulsion to a desired consistence.
Ultrasonic disperser can easily and reliably handle the preparation of latex emulsions. Since sonication energy and thereby the dispersing intensity can be adjusted to the emuslification and homogenization of the various preparation steps, a decomposition of ingredients or the breakage of the latex emulsion can be reliably prevented. Ultrasonic dispersion is a proven technique for complete powder wetting. The order of addition of materials, etc. can be changed to formulation demands. The ideally adjusted ultrasonic energy input allows for the full coloration expression of pigments and results in a high-quality latex emulsion paint.
Since the ultrasonic disperser with flow cell is closed system, no unwanted aeration or foaming occur. The ultrasonicator offers the advantage of robust and reliable, easy and safe to operate, having shorter batch cycles and simpler formulation procedures. Even with a bench-top ultrasonicator in flow-through setup, substantial production capacities can be efficacious and cost-efficiently processed.

Ultrasonic dispersing results in a very narrow particle size distribution.

Before and after sonication: The green curve shows the particle size before sonication, the red curve is the particle size distribution of ultrasonically dispersed silica.

Ultrasonic Dispersion of Wax Emulsions

Wax emulsions and dispersions are formulated additives made of fine and stabilized wax particles, homogeneously distributed in water. When wax is dispersed as nano droplets with a very homogeneous droplet distribution, a stable wax emulsions is obtained. Ultrasonic homogenizers generate intense shear forces and are reliable and robust dispersing systems to produce stable wax nano-emulsions.
Read more about ultrasonic wax emulsification!

Ultrasonic dispersers are used to disperse paints and pigments

Ultrasonic disperser with glass flow cell to display the homogenisation of red paint

Ultrasonic Dispersion of UV Black Ink: Ultrasound results in a homogeneous fine dispersion (Click to enlarge!)

UV-Black Pigments: Before and After Ultrasonication

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Ultrasonic High-Shear Homogenizers for Paint Formulations

Hielscher Ultrasonics homogenizers, dispersers, emulsifiers, and mills are used in the industrial production of high-performance paints and coatings. With the intense ultrasound frequency energy, ultrasonic homogenizers create very high shear forces, turbulences and destructive forces. These extraordinarily intense ultrasonic forces couple the required impact on solid-liquid slurries to disperse and mill particles to the desired size and functionality.

Ultrasonic Milling of High-Solid Loadings

Ultrasonic inline systems can easily handle very high solid concentrations. As long as the slurry’s particle loading is in the range of being pumpable and can be fed through the ultrasonic flow-cell, Hielscher’s industrial ultrasonic homogneizers can reliably process any kind of highly viscous, paste-like slurries. Ultrasonic wet-milling is commonly applied in order to prepare master batches of micron- and nano-sized pigments. The capability of handling such high solid loadings of even abrasive particles makes ultrasonic high-shear homogenizers the most efficacious and efficient milling technology of pigments and nano-particles.

Ultrasonic Tank Agitators and Flow-Through Reactors

The ultrasonic homogenization setup SonoStation consists of ultrasonic disperser, agitator, pump and tank. It is a complete turn-key setup for mixing applications.  Paint formulations can be mixed in open tanks or batches, in which one or more ultrasonic probes are inserted. The open container mixing using a setup like the Hielscher SonoStation (see pic. left) is an ideal setup to disperse mid-size volumes of low- to medium-viscous formulations. For high volume throughput, intense applications of milling and breaking primary particles as well as for high-viscous slurries and pastes, a pressurizable ultrasonic reactor is the setup of choice.
An open vessel such as a tank can neither be pressurized nor is it ideal for the uniform processing of larger and/ or highly viscous volumes. An ultrasonic flow-through reactor can be pressurized up to several barg. Applying pressure during sonication intensifies the acoustic cavitation and thereby shear forces and dispersing / milling / homogenizing effects of ultrasound. At the same time, all paint or pigments are uniformly fed into the reactor: having the same residence time and being processed under the exactly same ultrasonic conditions, a very homogenous dispersion / milling result is achieved. The very uniform treatment under intense ultrasonic forces results in superior paint products.
Hielscher Ultrasonics offers the full range of high-performance ultrasonic processor with tank and reactor setups supplying you with the ideal ultrasonic dispersing equipment for your paint production.

Ultrasonic Dispersers for Every Product Capacity

UIP4000hdT flow cell for inline sonication on industrial scaleHielscher Ultrasonics product range covers the full spectrum of ultrasonic processors from compact lab ultrasonicators over bench-top and pilot systems to fully-industrial ultrasonic processors with the capacity to process truckloads per hour. The full product range allows us to offer you the most suitable ultrasonic disperser for your paint formulations, process capacity and production targets.
Ultrasonic benchtop systems are ideal for feasibility tests and process optimization. Linear scale-up based on established process parameters makes it very easy to increase the processing capacities from smaller lots to fully commercial production. Up-scaling can be done by either installing a more powerful ultrasonic disperser unit or clustering several ultrasonicators in parallel. With the UIP16000, Hielscher offers the most powerful ultrasonic disperser worldwide.

Precisely Controllable Amplitudes for Optimum Results

All Hielscher ultrasonicators are precisely controllable and thereby reliable work horses in production. The amplitude is one of the crucial process parameters that influence the efficiency and effectiveness of ultrasonic dispersing and wet-milling of pigment pastes, paints and polymers.
Hielscher's industrial processors of the hdT series can be comfortable and user-friendly operated via browser remote control.All Hielscher Ultrasonics’ processors allow for the precise setting of the amplitude. Sonotrodes and booster horns are accessories that allow to modify the amplitude in an even wider range. Hielscher’s industrial ultrasonic processors can deliver very high amplitudes and deliver the required ultrasonic intensity for demanding applications. Amplitudes of up to 200µm can be easily continuously run in 24/7 operation. High amplitudes are essential when it comes to high-power ultrasound applications such as nano-dispersions, nano-particle synthesis, milling of primary particles and mini-emulsions.
Precise amplitude settings and the permanent monitoring of the ultrasonic process parameters via smart software give you the possibility to treat your pigments and powder slurries under the most effective ultrasonic conditions. Optimal sonication for best dispersion results!

Easy, Risk-free Testing

Ultrasonic processes can be completely linear scaled. This means every result that you have achieved using a lab or bench-top ultrasonicator, can be scaled to exactly the same output using the exactly same process parameters. This makes ultrasonication ideal for risk-free feasibility testing, process optimization and subsequent implementation into commercial manufacturing. Contact us to learn how sonication can improve your paint and pigment production.

Highest Quality – Designed and Manufactured in Germany

As a family-owned and family-run business, Hielscher prioritizes highest quality standards for its ultrasonic processors. All ultrasonicators are designed, manufactured and thoroughly tested in our headquarter in Teltow near Berlin, Germany. Robustness and reliability of Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment make it a work horse in your production. 24/7 operation under full load and in demanding environments is a natural characteristic of Hielscher’s high-performance dispersers. This makes Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment a reliable work tool that fulfils your paint processing requirements.

Ultrasonicator UP200St (200W) dispersing carbon black in water using 1%wt Tween80 as surfactant

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The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch Volume Flow Rate Recommended Devices
1 to 500mL 10 to 200mL/min UP100H
10 to 2000mL 20 to 400mL/min UP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L 0.2 to 4L/min UIP2000hdT
10 to 100L 2 to 10L/min UIP4000hdT
n.a. 10 to 100L/min UIP16000
n.a. larger cluster of UIP16000

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Literature / References

Facts Worth Knowing

Whats the Difference between Dispersions and Emulsions

Definition of Dispersion:
A dispersion is a system in which distributed particles of one material are dispersed in a continuous phase of another material. The two phases may be in the same or different states of matter.
Different types of dispersions are distinguished. Distinguishing factors are for instance particle size ratio of dispersed particles in relation to the particles of the continuous phase, whether or not precipitation occurs, and the presence of Brownian motion. In general, dispersions of particles sufficiently large for sedimentation are called suspensions, while those of smaller particles are called colloids and solutions. Emulsion is a specific sub-type of dispersion, where two immiscible liquids (two phases of the same state) are dispersed into each other.
Definition of Emulsion:
Emulsions are liquid systems of at least two immiscible liquids, where one of the liquids is dispersed in the other as small droplets. The phase of small, distributed droplets is called dispersed or internal phase, whilst the other phase is called continuous or external phase. There are two main types of emulsions, which is distinguished between: The oil-in-water (O/W) and water-in-oil (W/O) emulsions. In the oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion, the internal phase is an oil or oil miscible liquid, and the external phase is water or a water miscible liquid. In the water-in-oil (W/O) emulsion, the internal phase is the water-like liquid, while the external phase is the oil-like liquid.
Most emulsions require an emulsifying agent, known as stabilizer or surfactant. The droplet size plays also a crucial role regarding emulsion stability. The smaller the droplet size, the more stable is the emulsion.

Hielscher Ultrasonics supplies high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.

High performance ultrasonics! Hielscher’s product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.