Finding a Toll Processing Solution

Manufacturers seldom look for solutions to problems they can’t see. If operations are going well, they do not need fixing—or in some cases, do not deserve attention at all. For toll processing and material sizing processes, however, this can be a costly mistake.

Companies that process on their own often believe they cannot afford to pay someone else to handle their toll processing and material sizing. Others might assume that inconsistent product or low yield is a direct result of inconsistent feed material, as they cannot quantify a vendor’s quality process or simply do not have the time to do so. Even if a company wants to make a change, the potential amount of time required and assumed risk make it difficult to begin the process.


In general, most manufacturers are trying to do more with less in this economy by not replacing personnel who have retired or left as a result of layoffs, reducing hours, closing plants, etc. Because of this trend, a lot of knowledge and expertise is leaving and not coming back. On the other end of the spectrum, reducing costs and cutting budgets have led to equipment being replaced less often and, in many cases, maintenance not being performed on a timely basis.

How do you increase profits by contracting your toll processing and material sizing needs? Have you considered outsourcing classification, pulverization, blending, screening, and/or particle modification services? Can you afford not to?

Maximizing Profitability through Outsourcing

It may make sense to outsource this facet of your business to professionals who have the proper equipment, knowledge and experience working with a variety of materials. They not only can handle your processing needs efficiently and effectively but can possibly apply knowledge gained from other jobs to help improve yours.

Manufacturers that outsource materials processing are not burdened by additional capital investment or the depreciation of new equipment. They can remain focused on current product lines while developing new products out of existing materials through outsourced toll processing. Using experienced toll processors also eliminates extended lead times for equipment delivery and installation, as well as the need for in-house engineering expertise in handling materials, equipment setup, operation requirements, maintenance or spare parts management, facility floor space, clean air compliance, or processing permits. In addition, the time that strategic planners spend analyzing current resources in remaining stock or waste material can be used differently.

These changes can often yield important return on investment. Manufacturing costs are predictable, and turnaround is fast. The burden of obtaining consistent product is transitioned, and quality processes and procedures can improve as the focus is more narrowly defined with a company specializing in toll processing. As an added benefit, managing production schedules, training, operation cost, safety concerns and potential liabilities are also transferred.


As we previously mentioned, contracting toll processing and material sizing needs offers access to the expertise and ingenuity of personnel focused on toll processing. In one example, PTI embraced the opportunity to process a high-density crystalline material that had stumped several other processors, failing to achieve the correct particle size with an acceptable yield.

The manufacturer provided the raw material in blocks of approximately 10-15 lbs. each, requesting a finished product particle size of minus 100 mesh (150 micron) plus 270 mesh (53 micron).


To meet this challenge, PTI employed a multistage process approach, utilizing more than one type of mill. Initially, we reduced the large feedstock blocks to minus 20 mm using a jaw crusher. We then further reduced the jaw-crushed material to minus 3 mm size using a hammer mill fitted with boron hard-faced hammers. Following this, we passed the hammer-milled material through an opposed-jet mill with an integral vane-type classifier, achieving a reduction in particle size to approximately 80% minus 100 mesh.

Next, we processed the jet-milled material through a vibratory screen, which produced three fractions: undersized fines, product to size, and oversized coarse material. We then re-milled and screened the oversized coarse fraction to produce additional product at the target size.

This multi-step, custom approach to size reduction for a challenging material evolved through various stages. Our initial approach produced a quality product within customer size specifications but also generated a large number of unusable fines, leading to a relatively poor product yield of approximately 40% of the material received. To address this, we widened the gap in the jaw crusher, effectively reducing fines at this stage. Through a series of test runs, we identified the optimal gap setting to minimize undersize fines. We also reduced the milling pressure by 45% in the jet mill, which lowered the energy applied to the milling chamber and reduced the fragmentation of fine particles. This refined approach significantly reduced fines formation and improved product yield to 54% of the material received.

Our third strategy involved replacing the jet mill’s secondary or strip air blower to enhance airflow through the mill classification zone. This modification boosted the classification efficiency of high-density materials and ultimately increased the product yield to 60% of the material received. PTI continues to process this material, making further modifications to enhance product yield.

Achieving the highest product yields for many materials requires a complex sequence of procedures. Our approach to optimizing this manufacturer’s product, though unique to that material, exemplifies how a toll processor can leverage their team’s experience and equipment to deliver the manufacturer’s desired product at the maximum yield.


Many manufacturers have benefitted from successful relationships with toll processors. By accessing a broad spectrum of custom services and a wide array of expertise, outsourcing your toll processing needs can provide multiple advantages for the long-term success of your business.

For more information, contact Powder Technology, Inc. at (952) 894-8737 or visit

Jeffrey J. Barrows is the President of Powder Technology, Inc.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top