The Problem with Purchasing Used Custom-Built Equipment

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By |July 5th, 2017|Homogenizer|

Occasionally we receive an inquiry regarding a used Sonolator homogenizer. The client wants to know the specifications for a system built 10-30 years ago. Sometimes we have the records and can provide detailed specifications. Often the unit is too old for our records and we have to provide an educated guess as to the original design. Additionally, it is not unusual to find a listing for a used Sonolator homogenizer system which in fact no longer has the Sonolator homogenizer or mixing element attached and therefore is just a pump and motor.

The real problem is that all of our Sonolator in-line ultrasonic high-pressure homogenizer systems are custom built to meet a specific application and customer need. Therefore, each and every system is different. There are no “off-the-shelf” Sonolator homogenizer systems. The only exception to this rule is the lab scale Sonolator homogenizer which is pretty straight forward and built to deliver up to either 2500 or 5000 PSI.

Each individual application calls for a best lowest pressure  and therefore all Sonolator homogenizer systems are designed to deliver a particular pressure. Then, the flow rate is determined largely by the client’s operations, for example, if they have a bottling system which requires 5 GPM, then the system might be designed to delivery 5-6 GPM. There is often an upper limit on both the pressure and the flow rate, but a particular system could be run at lower pressure and/or lower flow rate. This is controlled by the speed of the motor and the size of the orifice.

So you see the work involved in defining the correct Sonolator homogenizer operating pressure and flow rate are in fact the same for a used piece of equipment as it is for new Sonolator homogenizer systems. In general, it is not worth Sonics time to get involved in the used market because the work is the same, but the return for Sonic is significantly lower. Also, while we applaud those who are able to find a used Sonolator homogenizer system to meet their needs, it is very rare for someone to find a system that will meet their needs exactly. It can be a frustrating process, one in which many individuals give up looking. Cost justifying the capital to begin the process of purchasing a new Sonolator homogenizer system which is custom designed to meet and optimize their operational needs is often time better spent.

Images of “Sonolator” listing from popular resale website — listed as “Sonolator”, but in fact Sonolator mixing elements have been removed, so these are really just pumps and motors. Below is an image from the same listing showing the Sonic Sonolator tag with model number, etc. Again there are no Sonolators actually contained in this equipment. They are fine pumping systems, but not homogenizers — as always: Caveat emptor! (buyer beware)

From the images above you can see that one of the units listed was built in May 1998 — 18 years old. It is not unusual to see Sonic equipment operting well past 20 years, so there is most likely some life left in this unit. However, once again the key mixing element, the Sonolator homogenizer is not included with the unit. The Sonolator is operated between 100-5,000 PSI and from 1/2 to 150 GPM. To learn more about how we define operating parameters for new equipment contact us at 203-375-0063.

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About the Author:

Rob Brakeman
Owner & Director