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How to Select the Right Grinding Media for Your Application

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Selecting the correct grinding media for any application requires the evaluation of 11 different factors: size, specific gravity, initial feed size, grinding efficiency, pH, discoloration concerns, contamination, availability, cost, size consistency, shape. Union Process has the experience and expertise to help manufacturers identify the best grinding media for their specific needs.

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How to Select the Right Grinding Media for Your Application

  1. 1. The Finer Points of Grinding Media Selection Presented by:
  2. 2. 11 Factors to Consider Selecting the right type of grinding media for any given application requires the consideration of 11 factors: • Size • Specific gravity • Initial feed size • Grinding efficiency • pH • Discoloration concerns • Contamination •Availability •Cost • Consistency of size • Shape
  3. 3. Size Depending on the type of mill and material being processed, media size can range from 1/8” to 3/8” in diameter. Small media horizontal mills require a much small diameter, ranging from .3mm to 2 mm. Very fine materials with a size of 2 microns would require grinding media such as .3mm Zirconium Oxide Y-TZP.
  4. 4. Specific Gravity The highest density media is tungsten carbide, while any of the various steel media represent a lower cost dense option. Lower density media include alumina or steatite/ceramic. Very viscous slurry requires very dense media that does not float. Density can have a direct impact on weight, which is an important consideration when working with a mill that is filled by volume. In the case of a 1S Lab Attritor, because of the differences in their density, 80 pounds of tungsten carbide media would be required, while only 14 pounds of steatite would be needed for the same grinding job.
  5. 5. Initial Feed Size Grinding media selection also needs to take the size of the material being ground into consideration. Small size media cannot be used to grind larger material. In the example pictured at right, the small ceramic balls would not be appropriate to grind the larger glass frit – in this case, 3/8” alumina would be a better choice. Small material like calcium carbonate requires a small media, like 0.65 mm Zirconium Oxide Y-TZP. Horizontal mills require even smaller media, ranging in diameter from .2 microns to .3mm.
  6. 6. Grinding Efficiency Very hard media provides a higher level of grinding efficiency and also allows for longer wear. pH Steel media can react differently with acids and slurries – very acidic types of slurries often require ceramic media. Discoloration White materials that need to stay white should be processed with a light-colored media to reduce chances of discoloration.
  7. 7. Contamination In many cases, it’s important to choose media that won’t cause contamination, although some countermeasures are available. For instance, steel media can contaminate the material it’s grinding, but the contamination can frequently be removed using magnetic separators. Because any steel grinding media will contaminate ceramic material, it’s necessary to use compatible media to avoid this type of contamination. Some special materials also require very specific media. One such example is silicon nitride, which must be ground with silicon nitride media.
  8. 8. Availability The urgency of the grinding project also should be taken into consideration. Most steel media are readily available, but more unusual types of media, like silicon nitride or silicon carbide, may not be in stock and may require longer lead times. Proper planning can ensure the right media is available at the right time.
  9. 9. Cost In a perfect world, grinding media selection would be based purely on the ability of the media to properly grind the material at hand. But it’s not a perfect world, and cost often becomes a factor in grinding media selection, although certain types of materials require specific types of media, regardless of the cost. When cost is a consideration, basic steel media, like through- hardened carbon steel or a chrome steel, are relatively inexpensive, while specialty media, like silicon carbide, are much more costly.
  10. 10. Cost (cont’d) Even within the same media group, there can be wide variances in cost. For instance, Zirconium Oxide Y-TZP is more expensive than Rare-Earth Stabilized Zirconium Oxide Y-TZP . But the initial cost of the media isn’t the whole story – grinding efficiency also plays a role in the overall cost of media. In the Zirconium Oxide example above, the more expensive media also has a much longer wear life, lessening the impact of its initial cost. Density is another factor in assessing grinding media costs, since many mills are filled by volume, and denser media require more weight to fill the same volume as less dense media.
  11. 11. Consistency of Size Ideally, the selected media for any specific grinding project should be of consistent size. But, because of the nature of the manufacturing process, consistency isn’t always possible. In these cases, classification is sometimes needed to help ensure the selection of the best grinding media for the job at hand.
  12. 12. Shape Grinding media selection also is based on the shape of the media, as different shapes are more appropriate for different types of grinding or material. Satellites are the most common shape and are used for a variety of applications. Radius end cylinders are appropriate for vibratory mills but not Attritors, because the Attritors’ intensity will break down these types of media.
  13. 13. Shape (cont’d) Some ceramic media, like Zirconium Oxide Y-TZP, are sold as perfect spheres. Specialty media shapes include diagonals, which are frequently made of stainless steel. This type of media is less costly than balls and can be preferred when a tearing motion is required in addition to grinding. Balcones are used for specialized applications.
  14. 14. The Leader in Grinding Media As a long-time leader in the production of grinding media, Union Process, Inc., is the source for the most up-to-date information on grinding balls and other media, including: • Our Grinding Media Brochure, which outlines the specifications on the most common types of media •A video on “How to Select Grinding Media” •A Grinding Media Quote Form Manufacturers in a wide range of industries have come to rely on our expertise in grinding media production and selection.
  15. 15. Contact Us for More Details Our skilled technical service representatives are always available for consultation and ready to assist you with the selection of media that best answer your particular needs. For assistance, contact Media Sales by calling (330) 929-3333 x228 or by emailing us. Union Process, Inc. 1925 Akron-Peninsula Road Akron, Ohio 44313