The driving force behind Progressive Products (PPI) when it was founded in the late 1970s was the idea of finding solutions for wear and abrasion in pneumatic conveying systems. At the time, there were two main industries that had a real need for a new solution to combat these two problems: grain handling and abrasive powders such as PVC plastic resin and compound.
Before ceramic coating had been invented, the main solution for these industries were ceramic tile-lined elbows. However, this type of elbow came with a fairly long list of disadvantages including:
- Incredibly expensive
- Had long lead times
- Required oversized flanges for installation
- Were hard to get in small sizes
- Offered limited center line radii (CLR)
- Gave protection that wasn’t needed
- Very heavy
A lot of the time, ceramic tile-lined elbows were overkill.
Additionally, manufacturers tended to produce pre-tiled elbows which therefore could only be of a certain size, meaning that companies were forced to have that size and make it fit into their systems.
Introducing Ceramic Coating for Pneumatic Conveying Elbows
While ceramic and compounds were already being used in some situations, the formulations weren’t effective enough. The founder of Progressive Products, Bob Allison, was an expert industry professional who saw an opportunity for extensive improvement in the way that ceramic was being used.
He designed our proprietary Ceram-Back® Elbow to both combat wear and abrasion and to solve all the problems ceramic-tiled elbows presented. His inspiration for these elbows came from the ceramic tiles used to line the bottom of space shuttles for re-entry which are very hard, heat resistant, and gas-impermeable. Bob Allison formulated many of the tough qualities of these tiles into a coating that could be applied to any fabricated geometry: elbows, transitions, cones, chutes, and receivers to name a few.
He also had the idea of wrapping the ceramic coating and sealing it in reinforcing material rather than fabricating over it with metal, a new concept that further saved cost.
Benefits of Ceramic Lined Elbows
Ceramic-lined or ceramic-coated elbows have many advantages:
- It is a relatively inexpensive protection method because the ceramic is only placed where protection is needed
- Ceramic-coated elbows can be made in any size or degree
- They don’t need any special connections such as oversized flanges
- They are of relatively simple construction, so lead times are short
- If you ceramic-coat an elbow this can be done to fit any elbow within your existing system
As with any new product, Ceram-Back® Elbows took a while to catch on and for customers to trust our new technology. But as the enormous benefits of using ceramic-wrapped elbows became more apparent over the course of the following decade, we started to develop new products.
More Ceramic-Coated and Ceramic-Lined Products
The first product that received a makeover was the ceramic tile-lined elbow. As a less expensive alternative to tile-lined round elbows, tile-lined square elbows had become popular in the pneumatic conveying industry. Their square geometry made for a much easier fabrication than their round tile-lined counterparts. However, these elbows still had many drawbacks. They still used an entirely tile-lined interior which, in most cases, was entirely unnecessary. They also had to move from round pipe to square box and back again. This meant using round to square transitions which became new wear points. Moreover, these transitions caused new down-line turbulence and wear.
Thus, the creation of the Cast Ceramic Flat-Back Elbow. Like the Ceram-Back® Elbow, the Flat-Back Elbow only places protection where it is needed – on the back of the elbow. In this case, not only did the new design reduce cost, but it also allowed the use of a round elbow which eliminated the need for transitions.
The success of both the Ceram-Back® Elbow and the Cast Ceramic Flat-Back Elbow ultimately led to a new design - the solid tile Cast-Back® Elbow. The Cast-Back® uses the best design techniques of the Ceram-Back® and the Cast Ceramic Flat-Back Elbow. It can be fabricated quickly, uses heavy tiles, and is a food-grade elbow with solid protection surrounding three-quarters of the elbow.
If you need help in selecting the right elbows for your pneumatic conveying system, it’s best to talk with an expert so you can ensure you get the correct components for your needs.
At Progressive Products, we won’t sell you anything you don’t need – contact us today to find the right solution for you.