How to Maintain Lab Homogenizer Shaft Bearings

X120 Handheld homogenizer

CAT Homogenizer Drives

As with mechanical components in top-tier watches, finely tuned engines and similar precision equipment, lab homogenizer shaft bearings require careful attention and “TLC” if researchers rely on these mixing, blending and dispersing tools when developing new or improved processes across a broad spectrum of food, drug and industrial product manufacturing.

Maintaining lab homogenizer shaft bearings is a critical procedure to protect investments in these small but important tools.  As watches, clocks and automotive engines may signal a need for attention (losing time, knocking, smoking) laboratory homogenizers may also send signals alerting operators that maintenance should be looked into.

Here’s a peek inside homogenizer shafts: We’ll cover signals and suggested maintenance steps later in this post.

Critical Components of Lab Homogenizers

Critical components of a lab homogenizer shaft bearings are out of sight.  They are situated in the tube connecting the homogenizer drive motor to the generator comprised of a rotor-stator assembly that does the work.

Where they are located is called the stator tube.  Their function is assuring that the rotor shaft is exactly centered in the tube so that the rotor meshes perfectly with the stator.  Seals are included to stop samples from working their way up to the drive motor housing.

Bearing configurations range from the relatively simple– a total of 8 components are found in the CAT T series of lab homogenizers – to the complex exemplified by 14 components in the sealed shaft of the CAT G series of homogenizers.  Here’s a brief description on the T and G series of CAT Homogenizers.

Maintenance Alerts for Laboratory Homogenizers

Although relatively small compared to production-scale homogenizers, blenders, emulsifiers and related equipment, lab homogenizers are subjected to sometimes severe working conditions that largely depend on the media being processed.  CAT Scientific describes these in terms of viscosity.

Signal alerts for lab homogenizer maintenance:

  1. A hot stator tube
  2. Vibrations or increasingly noisy operation
  3. Increased  processing time – indicating a worn generator assembly
  4. Unprocessed particles in the sample

4 Tips for Maintaining Lab Homogenizer Bearings

Standard operating procedures will help minimize wear on your homogenizer bearing assemblies.  All personnel responsible for operating the equipment should be familiar with the procedures.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Samples should not be allowed to dry or harden on surfaces. Clean all components of the shaft tube, shaft and sealing parts after each use by operating the unit in a mild cleaning solution of formalin or alcohol. Check our recent blog post on cleaning and sterilizing recommendations for an in-depth look at this topic.
  2. Only activate the homogenizer when the generator is immersed in the sample.  The sample serves as a lubricant to keep components from damage due to overheating.  An ideal sample depth is 55 mm, otherwise use slower speeds or shorter cycles. The generator should be ≥10mm from the bottom of the sample container.
  3. Check gasket seals by observing the top cooling port.  If you see fluids emerging from this port it indicates worn gaskets that can allow sample to reach the drive motor.  Immediately turn off the unit and replace the gaskets.
  4. Use the mounting stand to position the homogenizer at an angle and off center in the sample container.  This helps avoid a vortex that could result in a “dry running” generator and overheated bearings.

More details on maintaining your CAT Scientific homogenizer are provided in the operations manual for the model you are using.  But if you’d like additional information please send us your question.

 

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Bob Wilcox

Bob Wilcox has represented CAT Scientific’s family of homogenizers, magnetic stirrers, liquid handling and related laboratory equipment since 2002 when Staufen, Germany-based CAT Ingenieurbüro M. Zipperer GMbH established operations in North America. Bob oversees CAT Scientific laboratory apparatus sales and service organization from the company’s headquarters in Paso Robles, CA. He also is in charge of the parent company’s line of JetCat jet turbines, turboprop, and helicopter power plants for hobbyists’ radio controlled fixed wing and helicopter model aircraft.

Earlier in Bob’s career he was involved in visual and special effects as well as camera and electronics supervisory responsibilities for the motion picture and television industry.

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