A ball mill, a type of grinder, is a cylindrical device used in grinding (or mixing) materials like ores, chemicals, ceramic raw materials and paints. Ball mills rotate around a horizontal axis, partially filled with the material to be ground plus the grinding medium. Different materials are used as media, including ceramic balls, flint pebbles and stainless steel balls. An internal cascading effect reduces the material to a fine powder. Industrial ball mills can operate continuously, fed at one end and discharged at the other end. Large to medium-sized ball mills are mechanically rotated on their axis, but small ones normally consist of a cylindrical capped container that sits on two drive shafts (pulleys and belts are used to transmit rotary motion). A rock tumbler functions on the same principle. Ball mills are also used in pyrotechnics and the manufacture of black powder, but cannot be used in the preparation of some pyrotechnic mixtures such as flash powder because of their sensitivity to impact. High-quality ball mills are potentially expensive and can grind mixture particles to as small as 0.0001 mm, enormously increasing surface area and reaction rates. The grinding works on principle of critical speed. The critical speed can be understood as that speed after which the steel balls which are responsible for the grinding of particles starts rotating along the direction of the cylindrical device;thus cause no grinding further.
High density alumina media (90 - 95% alumina ) is widely used in the ceramic industry to grind clay bodies, frits, glazes and other ingredients. It is more expensive than silica / silex media but is more efficient