Homemade Ball Mill Tumbles Along Like a Champ

[Mike] enjoys doing all kinds of things with glass. He likes to melt it and fuse it into new things, so it’s perfectly understandable that he wanted to make his own glass. Doing so requires finely ground chemicals, so [Mike] put together this awesome homemade ball mill.

The design is wonderfully simple. The mill is powered by a robust 12VDC motor from a printer that he’s running from a variable power supply in order to fine tune the speed. [Mike] built a scrap wood platform and attached four casters for the drum to spin against. The drum is rotated by a round belt he had lying around from various other projects. [Mike] already had a couple of those blue containers, which formerly held abrasive grit for use in vibratory tumblers.

[Mike] had some trouble with the drum walking off the casters so he attached scrap piece of aluminum to form an end stop. All he had to buy for this project were the 5/8″ steel balls and the casters. The mill can also be used as a rock tumbler, though the bottle isn’t quite water tight as-is. He does not recommend this type of setup for milling gunpowder or other explosives, and neither do we.

Make the jump to see the mill in action and get the grand tour. If you need more tumbling power, use a dryer motor!

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Easy to build parts tumbler you can add to your shop

This parts tumbler was easy to build but it still does a great job of rounding rough edges and polishing the surfaces of parts cut with a CNC machine. You can see that it mounts in a bench vise, and the cooling fans have a magnet which holds the tray in place on the anvil portion of that tool. Since you’re not constantly tumbling parts this makes it very easy to store the unit between uses.

[Neo7CNC] mounted the wooden tumbler plate directly to the motor shaft. This is done with the help of some aluminum stock which bolts to the round wooden plate, and has a hole and set screw for the motor’s keyed shaft. There are four wooden dowels which cradle the plastic coffee jug where the parts go. As a first test he used zinc BB’s that he already had lying around, but has put some steel ball medium on order for future projects.

It’s certainly more robust and powerful than the LEGO ball mill we saw a while ago. Just be careful with motor. Even at a lowly 60 RPM it ended up getting really hot and that’s the reason there’s a heat sink and fan unit included in the build. See it in action after the break.

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LEGO ball mill

This is a ball mill used for refining materials into a fine powder. [Jpoopdog] built it in two parts, a base and the tumbler chamber. The base itself is build using LEGO wheels as rollers. The motor and controller from an NXT kit is used to drive the rotation, with programming to stop the mill every so often so that the raw material can cool down. That’s important because this can be used to make substances like aluminum powder, an explosive substance sometimes used in pyrotechnics. We don’t recommend producing your own explosives (or making your own propellant) but if that’s what you’re after [Jpoopdog] did build in a safety feature. The chamber,which is constructed from PVC, has a fail safe to prevent an explosion. A hole has been drilled in the end cap and plugged with hot glue. In the event the milling material starts to overheat the glue will melt and alleviate the built up pressure.

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