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What is Pelletizing?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pelletizing is a process in which material is turned into small dry pellets. It has a wide range of applications, and it is a commonly used industrial process all over the world, seen everywhere from plants that make animal feed to recycling facilities processing materials for reuse. This process is usually accomplished with a specialized machine called a pelletizer, which can operate in a number of different ways, depending on the material being transformed.

One classic use of this process is in plastics manufacturing. Raw and recycled plastics being reprocessed are often converted into pellets because this form is easy to handle and transport. To use the pellets, a manufacturer introduces them to equipment used in plastics molding, which melts them. The liquid mixture is shot into molds, extruded, or otherwise processed to make a finished plastic product. Known as nurdles, plastic pellets come in a range of colors and types for manufacturing use.

Animal feed is also pelletized. This type of feed is produced by grinding constituent ingredients to make a mash, which can be turned into pellets and allowed to dry before packaging. Dry animal feed is lighter and easier to handle, and turning it into small pieces allows companies to create a range of feed blends for different animals, with various additives as needed. The feed can be eaten dry or rehydrated to make a soft mash for animals that prefer soft food.

Fuels can be pelletized as well. Scrap wood and paper products are turned into pellets so that they can be burned in stoves, and other types of fuel may be sold this way as well. Pelletization of fuels is a popular way to ensure that excess materials are not wasted, but rather repackaged in a way which makes them usable. This is environmentally friendly in addition to cost effective, turning a former discard into an item of value.

Some metals are turned into pellets during production, creating pieces of standard sizes used during the refining process. Fertilizers can also be processed this way. This form is a popular, time-release fertilizer product in many regions of the world and is readily available from a number of sources. It is even possible to obtain organic fertilizer products in the form, for people who prefer a dry and tidy way to deliver nutrients to their gardens.

Certain pharmaceuticals may be produced in pelletized form to control dosage, especially with time release medications. In this case, the bits are usually small enough to be packed inside a capsule, which is swallowed whole. As the coating on the capsule breaks down, it releases the pellets, which deliver medication to the body.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon955264 — On Jun 06, 2014

I have fine ore of a size minus 325 mesh. I want to make them coarse and reuse them. How do I go about? Any ideas will be very helpful. --veeranandagiri

By lluviaporos — On Aug 21, 2012

I'm pretty sure you can get those plastic pellets at craft stores if you want to try making your own plastic creations. And I know they sell them online, because that's what you load into a 3D printer in order to make whatever it is that you feel like making. You just put the pellets in, they are melted and then the machine follows the blueprint you've loaded in there to create a model of whatever you like.

I actually think that 3D printers are going to become more and more popular as time goes on, so these plastic pellets will probably eventually go down in price for the average person. Although they might not always sell them in pellet form either, I think it would be more efficient to sell blocks of plastic since it's not that heavy, but maybe blocks are more difficult to melt.

By bythewell — On Aug 21, 2012

@irontoenail - Yeah, I guess if I thought about it at all, I wouldn't have guessed that they actually used a press and molds to make pellets. It seems like a lot of fuss to go to in order to make it easier to feed animals or spread fertilizer. But, I guess it helps that there is such a demand for the pellets.

My fondest memory of food pellets are the little bags of them they give to kids when they are at a wildlife park, so they can feed the deer and other animals. That was my favorite thing to do back then.

By irontoenail — On Aug 20, 2012

I've never really thought about how many different things in our lives have to be formed by a pellet machine. We had a small farm when I was a kid and we used to buy big sacks full of pellets for the animals to eat. You could get a sack of pellets that would be suitable for a wide range of animals, from the chickens to the horses. It was one of my favorite tasks of the day, going out to feed them all, since most of our animals were tame enough to take it from your hand.

I suppose if they weren't done in pellets, back in the day they must have just cooked up a mash, or fed the animals raw grain. So I should be happy they don't need to do that anymore, since that would have taken a lot more time and energy.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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