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Ball MillA ball mill is a type of grinder used to grind and blend materials for use in mineral dressing processes, paints, pyrotechnics, ceramics and selective laser sintering. It works on the principle of impact and attrition: size reduction is done by impact as the balls drop from near the top of the shell.
A ball mill consists of a hollow cylindrical shell rotating about its axis. The axis of the shell may be either horizontal or at a small angle to the horizontal. It is partially filled with balls. The grinding media is the balls, which may be made of steel (chrome steel), stainless steel, ceramic, or rubber. The inner surface of the cylindrical shell is usually lined with an abrasion-resistant material such as manganese steel or rubber. Less wear takes place in rubber lined mills. The length of the mill is approximately equal to its diameter.
The general idea behind the ball mill is an ancient one, but it was not until the industrial revolution and the invention of steam power that an effective ball milling machine could be built. It is reported to have been used for grinding flint for pottery in 1870.
A Ball Mill grinds material by rotating a cylinder with steel grinding balls, causing the balls to fall back into the cylinder and onto the material to be ground. The rotation is usually between 4 to 20 revolutions per minute, depending upon the diameter of the mill. The larger the diameter, the slower the rotation. If the peripheral speed of the mill is too great, it begins to act like a centrifuge and the balls do not fall back, but stay on the perimeter of the mill.
The point where the mill becomes a centrifuge is called the "Critical Speed", and ball mills usually operate at 65% to 75% of the critical speed.
Ball Mills are generally used to grind material 1/4 inch and finer, down to the particle size of 20 to 75 microns. To achieve a reasonable efficiency with ball mills, they must be operated in a closed system, with oversize material continuously being recirculated back into the mill to be reduced. Various classifiers, such as screens, spiral classifiers, cyclones and air classifiers are used for classifying the discharge from ball mills.
Ceramic ball mill before 1945 Thiem&Towe Halle. Property of Faculty of Chemistry, Gdańsk University of Technology
Advantages of the ball mill
Ball milling boasts several advantages over other systems: the cost of installation and grinding medium is low; it is suitable for both batch and continuous operation, similarly it is suitable for open as well as closed circuit grinding and is applicable for materials of all degrees of hardness.