Image Credit: Custom Milling & Consulting, Inc.
Toll processing services distill, dry, mix, or mill chemicals and bulk materials on a contractual basis. They provide a chemical production outsourcing option for industrial companies which lack the expertise, capacity, or regulatory permits for in-house production.
The selection of a toll processing service company requires a consideration of the services it offers, the materials it services, and its overall production capacity.
Types of Services
There are several toll processing services. Examples include milling, mixing, blending, contract formulation, and private labeling.
- Milling is a technique for the removal of metal applicable to metal fibers in metal matrix composites. Milling is also known as chemical machining. The chemical milling process is highly versatile when working with thin sheet metal with thickness suitable for etching 0.002" up to 0.080" (0.05 to 2mm). Milling can provide considerable weight reduction and superior structural performance to engine component fabrication.
- Mixing is necessary to handle the large production requirements of a bulk material in many industries such as a powder coating plant. A powder coating plant uses a method of applying coatings to surfaces without using solvents.
- Blending involves the storage of raw materials, their transfer or mixing, and storage and preparation of finished products for distribution to customers.
- Contract formulation includes bulk material particle size reduction, cryogenic grinding, classifying, formulating and blending, densifying, granulating, extruding, and packaging the finished product. Depending on specific material properties, particle size reductions to less than 1 micron can be achieved through this process.
- Private labeling services involve products or services that are typically those manufactured or provided by one company for offer under another company's brand.
Material Form and Type
Toll processing services can be selected based on the material form or specific material type. Material forms include liquids, powders, nanomaterials, bulk solids, granules, webs, continuous stock, and scrap. Specific material types can be classified under processed chemicals or processed materials.
Toll processing services can be scaled according to the amount of material they can handle. For most solid products and some liquid products, capacity is measured on a mass basis. For most gas and liquid products, capacity is measured on a volume basis.
Companies with laboratory or benchtop-scale capacities can process material quantities that do not exceed a few pounds or a few gallons. Pilot scale facilities perform small-scale production processes that are larger than laboratory scale and used to develop a subsequent full-scale process. Typically, pilot-scale quantities range from several drums to hundreds of pounds or gallons; however, quantities vary with the density and type of processed material. Pilot scale refining and recovery services are better than laboratory scale facilities at simulating production processes and can be used for troubleshooting, improving and optimizing processes. Typically, production lots are in the range of thousands of gallons or pounds.
Toll processing services are used in many industries including preparation of proprietary formulations and/or custom blends for customers in the semiconductor, laboratory, pharmaceutical, and food industries. Toll processing services are also used in cosmetic packaging, personal care products, automotive, and medical applications.