Model LE-4 and LE-5 Combination Soap Refiner/Extruders can be used in either pilot plants or small production facilities. These machines feature variable speed drive and are easily changed for use as a refiner or extruder. As an optional attachment, a vacuum cover can be fitted to the hopper.
All product-contacted parts are stainless steel with the exception of the screw which is aluminum. Optional base tables are available.
The primary application for these machines is bar soap. However, the design is useful for other products where a forming extruder is required.
The LE-2.0 and LE-2.5 Combination Soap Refiner/Plodders are designed to simulate the production of soap bars in a laboratory.
Similarly, the LE-4 and LE-5 Combination Soap Refiner/Plodders are larger versions which can simulate the manufacture of soap bars in a pilot plant. They are large enough to be used for small production runs.
Soap Bar Production on a Large Scale
In a factory, soap bars are produced on what is commonly referred to as a “Finishing Line”. A Finishing Line is made up of the following components. Each is a separate and distinct machine:
- Mixer (sometimes called an Amalgamator) – This is used to mix the soap base (sometimes called “soap chips”) together with color, fragrance and other ingredients.
- 1st Refiner – This machine takes the soap base mixture from the mixer and passes it through a fine mesh screen. Passing the mixture through a screen makes the soap base/fragrance/color mixture more homogeneous. The screen can be 10 mesh, 30 mesh or 50 mesh, depending on the application. This can step can also be taken by a 3-roll or 4-roll mill, although the use of roll milling is on the decline.
- 2nd Refiner – This is a repeat of the 1st refiner and increases the degree of homogeneity. Sometimes this step eliminated depending on the application.
LS-H Hand Press
- Vacuum Duplex Plodder – This machine is comprised of 2 separate stages. The 1st stage is yet another Refiner. (The last refining step). The 2nd stage is an Extruder which forms the final bar shape in a long continuous billet. The 2 stages are connected by a vacuum chamber which acts to de-aerate the soap. An extruder in the soap industry is commonly called a “Plodder”.
The product which is extruded from the Vacuum Duplex Plodder is a long continuous soap bar. At this point the soap bar is actually finished. The only thing left is to change the form of the bar by cutting the billet into shorter pieces and stamping a shape if required.
- Cutter – The Cutter does just that – it cuts the long continuous billet into shorter pieces called “slugs”. The Cutter is fully automatic and continuously cuts the billet into the smaller slugs.
- Stamper – Also called a “Press”, this gives the soap slug its final shape and embosses a name or logo if required.
- Die Chiller – In order prevent the soap bar from sticking to the die and thereby impeding removal, a Chiller is used to circulate superchilled liquid through the die.
Simulating Production in the Laboratory
In the lab, each of the steps above can be duplicated on a smaller scale. Remember that the LE machine is called a Combination Refiner/Plodder because it can be configured to be either a refiner or a plodder.
- Mixer – A common household kitchen-type will suffice. Alternately, a simple mixing bowl and a spatula will also properly mix the ingredients after just a few minutes.
- 1st Refiner – The LE machine is fitted with a refining head and refining screens , just like the production units, and the mixture is refined.
- 2nd Refiner – A repeat of Step 2
- Vacuum Duplex Plodder – A repeat of Step 2 if a final refining step if needed. Afterwards, the refining head is removed and the machine is fitted with the extrusion head. Again, this is just like production. The exception is that in the lab there is no vacuum applied.
- Cutter – This is done manually with a knife or sharp edge spatula.
- Stamper – The bars can be stamped (pressed) using the Model LSH Laboratory Hand Press.
- Die Chiller – A Die Chiller like the kind used in production is not needed for making sample bars. For one thing, the cost is prohibitively expensive. The small volume of bars does not justify such an expense. Instead, simply wrap the soap bar in a thin plastic film when stamping. Stamp the bar and remove the film.
Pilot Plant or Small Production Application
Small production can be done on the model LE-4 or LE-5 depending on the size of bar required. In either case, the steps are similar to the large production Finishing Line except that the LE machine doubles as both a refiner and a plodder.
- Mixer – Any good stainless steel ribbon blender or double arm blender will suffice. We offer our Model LM-45 for this purpose.
- 1st Refiner – The LE machine is fitted with a refining plate and screen.
- 2nd Refiner – Repeat of step 2 as required.
- Vacuum Duplex Plodder – Another repeat of Step 2 if a final refining step is required. Afterwards the LE machine is fitted with an extrusion cone and the machine acts as a plodder.
If vacuum de-aerating is required, the LE-4 or LE-5 can be built as a Vacuum Duplex Plodder. The price is a little more than double that of the standard LE-4 or LE-5.
- Cutter – The billet is cut by hand, or with the aid of a table-top wire cutter.
- Stamper – The bars can be stamped and a name and/or logo embossed with either the Model LS-1 or LS-6 Stampers.
NOTE: The choice of press depends on the type of soap.For easily stamped bars the LE-1 will suffice. For more difficult bars or for very large bars, the LS-6 is used.
- Die Chiller – Depending on the particular application, it may not be necessary to use a Chiller. For example, if the machine is used in a pilot plant, then the same method of wrapping a bar in a plastic film may suffice assuming the volume is very low and this method is not cumbersome. However, for larger runs, like small production runs, it would be well advised to utilize a chiller. The smallest Die Chiller we provide is the RS-25LT.