If you wanted to break a stone down into sand, you might reach for a sledge hammer. But if you want to turn sand into fine dust, a ball mill would be the best tool for the job. A ball mill is specifically designed to break down a granular substance into a much finer substance by tumbling and grinding them with ceramic or metallic balls. Ball mills are used by painters, ceramicists and pyrotechnics experts to mix and refine pigments, clay compounds and explosives for fireworks.
Prepare the Milling Chamber
1. Load your milling media into your milling chamber. Depending on your mill’s capacity, and the material you wish to mill, you can add less or more media, but generally do not load the chamber more than two-thirds of the way full.
2. Add the granular material you wish to mill. Use extreme caution if milling explosive materials.
3. Screw the lid on to the top of your milling chamber or slip the cover on and affix the rubber retaining ring to secure the lid in place.
Milling Your Material
1. Turn the loaded chamber on its side and place it top of the two metal rails so that the chamber is running parallel to the rails and making contact with the rubber or plastic bushings.
2. Place the entire ball mill inside of a milling cabinet and place the cabinet outdoors, far away from buildings, cars, people, animals, direct sunlight and any explosive objects such as gas canisters, if you are milling explosive materials. Pack sand bags around the milling cabinet to form a barricade around and on top of the milling cabinet. This will protect from flying debris in the event of an explosion.
3. Plug the ball mill into an electrical outlet and turn on the milling machine’s motor to begin rotating the chamber.
4. Allow the mill to run uninterrupted for several hours. The longer the mill is allowed to run, the finer the granular material will become. Occasionally, feel the motor to make sure that it is not overheating. If the motor feels hot to the touch, turn off the machine and allow it to cool down before resuming.
Removing Milled Material
1. Turn off the ball mill and unplug it from its power source. If you are milling explosive material, remove the sandbags and open the milling cabinet. Remove the milling chamber and place it on a flat surface.
2. Allow the dust to settle inside of the milling chamber before opening the container. Slowly unscrew the milling chamber’s cover or remove the rubber retention ring and slide the cover off.
3. Place your fine mesh screen over your plastic or glass container. Carefully pour the contents of the ball mill out onto the screen to sift the milling media from the milled substance.