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A Brief History of the Hammer Mill

How does a hammer mill work? And when was it first used to aid human industry? The answer may surprise you. A hammer mill operates under a straightforward basic principle—hammers are mounted on a rotating shaft within a steel drum. The rotor moves at high speeds within the drum’s enclosure. Material is fed through a feed hopper into the mill and is then pulverized by the continuous blows of the hammers. The end product exits the hammer mill through a screen of the operator’s choosing—different sized screens influence the size of material output.

The hammer mill has been around for longer than most people realize. Non-mechanized versions of the device have been around for thousands of years. The first written mention of the device comes from ancient China. Written in the year 40 BC, the Jijiupian Chinese dictionary describes an early hammer mill device which was operated by a treadle. To use the device, one simply had to press down on the foot pedal. The Xin Lun, a philosophical text published in 20 AD, also mentions an early hammer mill device, this time powered by a waterwheel for the purposes of pounding grain. Water powered and mechanized mills appeared in Europe circa the 12th century. They were primarily used to crush ore and boost medieval wrought iron production. The world has certainly been reaping the benefits of the hammer mill for a long time. These devices improve the speed of production, streamline operations, and minimize human effort.

The modern hammer mill has evolved to be mechanized, easy to use, and versatile. The hammer mill operator can choose what size of output is produced simply by switching out the mill’s screens. Hammer mill applicability ranges from processing animal feed, grinding of grains for ethanol plants, fragmentation of waste, fluff pulp production, milling grains, crushing rocks into ballast or sand, fruit juice production, and shredding scrap metals. 

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