National Drying Machinery Company History
National Drying Machinery joined Aeroglide Corporation in 2004.
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Founded in 1920 in Pennsylvania, USA, The National Drying Machinery Company has been an industry leader in thermal processing equipment for decades. In the early years, the company focused on the growing textile industry, later expanding into synthetic fiber, food, chemical and advanced materials and industrial applications.
National was founded by Bertrand A. Parkes, an engineer prominently associated with the dryer industry. He brought in specialization, manufacturing technology and customized design to provide the highest quality performance driven machinery in the industry. His beliefs were carried forward as the company continued to advance in technology and products, providing their thermal process expertise to the largest US and international companies. Our philosophy of working together to ensure the equipment is “built around your business” leads companies around the world to seek the technical solutions and tailored design of National Drying Machinery Company.
Textiles and Synthetic Fibers
National Drying's active involvement in the design and fabrication of dryers for the natural, synthetic and artificial fiber applications dates back to 1920, when they first began supplying the textile industry. Philadelphia was one of the largest machinery manufacturing centers in the world. National developed continuous thermal equipment, automating what had been a labor intensive batch process, allowing production rates to increase by orders of magnitude. This enabled construction and automation of the largest mills in North America.
Equipment that was pioneered by National included yarn skein dryers, loop and festoon dryers, lace dryers, high velocity impingement fabric dryers and threaded roller dryers for sheeted goods. While originally aimed at regional and North American producers, these dryers began to be used internationally in the late 1920’s and grew until thousands of dryers were shipped around the world.
National Drying's growth and experience has paralleled the development of the modern fiber industry. National Drying developed very close and valuable relationships with textile and fiber producers. Companies such as DuPont and American Viscose developed the first practical manmade and synthetic fibers. National Drying provided both the pilot dryers for development, as well as the first equipment for commercialization of these new products. The litany of new fibers that were produced on National dryers included Rayon- Acetate- Nylon in the first half of the century; followed by the Polyesters, Acrylics, and Aramids in the second half. Twenty First century development is continuing today with advanced materials and composites like Carbon Fibers, PTFE based fabrics, Biopolymers, and membrane and film technology used in everything from fuel cells to medical devices for reverse osmosis systems.
The concept of partnering equipment manufacturers like National with producers like our customers ensures that new products can be made uniformly, reliably and economically.
Chemicals and Polymers
The modern organic chemical industry was started by the invention of synthetic dyes for textiles in Germany. As the primary supplier to the textile industry, National was involved in the first batch convection dryer manufacturing these new chemicals.
Commercialization of continuous systems mandated a new generation of process technology, and National developed specialized designs that accommodated the requirements for precise temperature control, air handling, safety, energy and reliability for conveyor dryers. This was coupled with inventions of specialized feeders, extruders, cleaning systems, and product handling devices. These machines were successfully deployed for organic dyestuffs and pigments in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s, manufacturers of inorganic chemicals required the same advanced dryers for their products, such as Iron Oxides, silicas and alumina. The high concentration of refineries in Philadelphia demanded this technology in the 1940’s for the production of catalysts, rubber accelerants, and other polymers. As the oil industry became the petrochemical industry in the latter part of the 20th century, National’s equipment and technology allowed this advancement to take place with plastics and polymers dominating the new process requirements. Dryers evolved to support products as diverse as SAP and PAN polymers; NBR and SBR, butyl and natural rubbers; as well as newly developed biopolymers. Today, the dryers and belt reactors provided by National and the rest of the Aeroglide team are in operation throughout the world.
With thousands of installations, our technology partners include industry leaders such as DuPont, Dow, 3M, BASF, DeGussa, Hoechst, Eastman, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Monsanto and WR Grace. We have partnered with engineering firms like Kvaerner, Fluor Daniels, Kawasaki and others for major new chemical plant construction. National equipment serves the chemical, mineral, pharmaceutical, food additive, catalyst, pigment, petrochemical and synthetic fiber industry, as well as specialty manufacturing sectors.
Specialty Industrial Applications
The challenges of process development or material handling were often overcome through joint development between National and customer engineers.
A brief list of unique specialized dryers includes:
Large-scale, continuous drying of foods began in the 1940's, driven principally by the war effort and the Marshall Plan. National Drying manufactured its first conveyor dryer for foods for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1945. National emerged as a pioneer in food drying and dehydration for a number of different products.
In 1956 the first continuous dryer for breakfast cereal was delivered to General Foods in Kankakee, Illinois, USA.
Developing continuous processing for vegetable and fruit industries produced the first continuous dryer for French fries in 1960 to Fosston Potato (later became J.R. Simplot Co.) in Minnesota, USA, and a year later the first continuous dryer for dehydro-frozen apples for Monroe Frozen in Middleport, New York, USA.
That same year National delivered the first continuous dryer for snacks to National Biscuit Company, which later became the J.R. Nabisco company.
Development of the multi-stage continuous conveyor dryer provided critical processing enhancements for vegetable processors worldwide. Some of the “firsts” in applying this technology include the delivery of the first multi-stage continues dehydrator for onions and garlic in to Gentry Foods (later became Gilroy Foods/Con-Agra Foods) in California. Processors in California began applying the multi-stage units for use with multiple vegetable products. This market expanded dramatically with the first delivery of the multi-stage dehydrator for onions and garlic to an overseas location in 1973 to Union of Foods in Syria.
There are many more milestones in National's history that demonstrate our thermal process development capabilities, including "firsts" in such varied food-related products as gelatin, instant rice, carrageenan, starch-cast candies, croutons, refried beans, corn starch and a variety of snack products.