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What is a Ball Mill?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A ball mill is a grinding device that is used to turn material into fine powder. Ball mills are cylindrical in shape, and are often the grinder of choice when it comes to mashing paints, ores, ceramic materials, and certain hard chemicals. By rotating on a horizontal axis, a ball mill can effectively convert a hard material into a loose powder.

In addition to the material that is meant to be ground, ball mills also contain a grinding material. Ceramic balls, stainless steel balls, and flint pieces are often used as grinding materials. When this matter grinds against another matter, the result is a crushed powder that can then be used for other applications.

An industrial ball mill has the ability to operate continuously. These ball mills are often controlled by a machine that feeds materials through one end of the mill and out the other end. Smaller mills can only operate with the help of a cylindrical container containing a tight cap. These mills are part of a pulley system that uses belts and pulleys to operate smaller ball mills.

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The concept of the rock tumbler, a device that polishes ordinary rocks, is based upon this kind of mill. Also, ball mills are often used in pyrotechnics to create black powder, though some pyrotechnic products cannot be produced using a ball mill. Since some materials will explode upon impact, materials of this nature cannot be placed inside of an active ball mill. These mills are especially useful during any mechanical alloying development, since grinding hard materials inside of a ball mill is relatively simple.

Stainless steel balls are often the grinding material of choice when it comes to ball mills. Steel has the ability to pulverize almost any material, though steel cannot be used in conjunction with flammable materials and sensitive materials. Certain raw materials would become damaged by steel, which is why flint and ceramic balls are often used to crush delicate raw materials.

Recently, the Planetary Ball Mill was invented in order to decrease the size of certain sample materials. These large ball mills are generally used within a laboratory setting. Prior to the invention of ball mills, manufacturers had a difficult time creating powder from sensitive and flammable substances. Today, this type of conversion is easier to do thanks to the invention of the ball mill. While useful, these mills should not be operated without the surveillance of a trained professional, since some materials, as previously mentioned, cannot be mixed inside of ball mills.

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