picture of a ball mill

Ball Mill

In Particle Size Reduction Equipment by Calistus Ozioko6 Comments

A ball mill also known as pebble mill or tumbling mill is a milling machine that consists of a hallow cylinder containing balls; mounted on a metallic frame such that it can be rotated along its longitudinal axis. The balls which could be of different diameter occupy 30 -50% of the mill volume and its size depends on the feed and mill size. The large balls tend to break down the coarse feed materials and the smaller balls help to form he fine product by reducing void spaces between the balls. Ball mills grind material by impact and attrition.

The degree of milling in a ball mill is influenced by;

  • Residence time of the material in the mill chamber.
  • The size, density and number of the balls.
  • The nature of the balls (hardness of the grinding material)
  • Feed rate and feed level in the vessel.
  • Rotation speed of the cylinder.

how a ball mill works

Several types of ball mill exist. They differ to an extent in their operating principle. They also differ in their maximum capacity of the milling vessel, ranging from 0.010 litres for planetary ball mill, mixer mill or vibration ball mill to several 100 litres for horizontal rolling ball mills.

Pharmaceutical uses of Ball Mills

  • The small and average capacity Ball mills are used for the final grinding of drugs or for grinding suspensions.
  • The maximum capacity Ball mills are used for milling ores prior to manufacture of pharmaceutical chemicals.

Advantages of Ball Mills   

  • It produces very fine powder (particle size less than or equal to 10 microns).
  • It is suitable for milling toxic materials since it can be used in a completely enclosed form.
  • Has a wide application.
  • It can be used for continuous operation.
  • It is used in milling highly abrasive materials.

Disadvantages of Ball Mills

  • Contamination of product may occur as a result of wear and tear which occurs principally from the balls and partially from the casing.
  • High machine noise level especially if the hollow cylinder is mode of metal, but much less if rubber is used.
  • Relatively long time of milling.
  • It is difficult to clean the machine after use.


  • Achim Stolle and Brindaban  Ranu (2014). Ball Milling Towards Green Synthesis: Applications, Projects, Challenges. Royal society of chemistry, UK.
  • Ahmed F. Abdel-Magid, and Stéphane Caron (2006). Fundamentals of Early Clinical Drug Development: From Synthesis Design to Formulation. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
  • Isaac, G.  and Charles, M. (2003). Pharmaceutical Extrusion Technology. Marcel Dekker, Inc., Basel, New York.
  • Martin J. Rhode (2008). Introduction to Particle Technology. John Wiley and Sons Ltd, Chichester, West Sussex, England.
  • Robert O. Williams III, Alan B. Watts, and Dave A. Miller (2012). Formulating Poorly Water Soluble Drugs. Springer Science, LLC, New York.
  • Sarfaraz K. Niazi (2009). Handbook of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Formulations: Semisolid Products. Informa Healthcare USA, Inc., New York.
  • Sud Sushant and Kamath Archana (2013). Methods of Size Reduction and Factors Affecting Size Reduction in Pharmaceutics. International Research Journal of Pharmacy. 4(8): 57-64.


  1. I’m grateful for the information about using a ball mill for pharmaceutical products as it produces very fine powder. My friend is working for a pharmaceutical company and this is a good article to share with her. It’s good to know that ball mills are suitable for milling toxic materials since they can be used in a completely enclosed for. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I am the student of vignan university . I am very happy for giving this information

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