Making Steel Balls

: The Working Of Steel

Steel balls are made from rods or coils according to size, stock

less than 9/16-in. comes in coils. Stock 5/8-in. and larger comes

in rods. Ball stock is designated in thousandths so that 5/8-in.

rods are known as 0.625-in. stock.

Steel for making balls of average size is made up of:

Carbon 0.95 to 1.05 per cent

Silicon 0.20 to 0.35 per cent
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Manganese 0.30 to 0.45 per cent

Chromium 0.35 to 0.45 per cent

Sulphur and phosphorus not to exceed 0.025 per cent

For the larger sizes a typical analysis is:

Carbon 1.02 per cent

Silicon 0.21 per cent

Manganese 0.40 per cent

Chromium 0.65 per cent

Sulphur 0.026 per cent

Phosphorus 0.014 per cent

Balls 5/8 in. and below are formed cold on upsetting or heading

machines, the stock use is as follows:



Diameter of Diameter of Diameter of Diameter of

ball, inch stock inch ball, inch stock, inch


1/8 0.100 5/16 0.235

5/32 0.120 3/8 0.275

3/16 0.145 7/16 0.320

7/32 0.170 1/2 0.365

1/4 0.190 9/16 0.395

9/32 0.220 5/8 0.440


For larger balls the blanks are hot-forged from straight bars.

They are usually forged in multiples of four under a spring hammer

and then separated by a suitable punching or shearing die in a

press adjoining the hammer. The dimensions are:


Diameter of ball, Diameter of die, Diameter of stock,

inch inch inch


3/4 0.775 0.625

7/8 0.905 0.729

1 1.035 0.823


Before hardening, the balls are annealed to relieve the stresses

of forging and grinding, this being done by passing them through a

revolving retort made of nichrome or other heat-resisting substance.

The annealing temperature is 1,300 deg.F.

The hardening temperature is from 1,425 to 1,475 deg.F. according to

size and composition of steel. Small balls, 5/16 and under, are

quenched in oil, the larger sizes in water. In some special cases

brine is used. Quenching small balls in water is too great a shock

as the small volume is cooled clear through almost instantly. The

larger balls have metal enough to cool more slowly.

Balls which are cooled in either water or brine are boiled in water

for 2 hr. to relieve internal stresses, after which the balls are

finished by dry-grinding and oil-grinding.

The ball makers have an interesting method of testing stock for

seams which do not show in the rod or wire. The Hoover Steel Ball

Company cut off pieces of rod or wire 7/16 in. long and subject

them to an end pressure of from 20,000 to 50,000 lb. A pressure

of 20,000 lb. compresses the piece to 3/16 in. and the 50,000 lb.

pressure to 3/32 in. This opens any seam which may exist but a

solid bar shows no seam.

Another method which has proved very successful is to pass the

bar or rod to be tested through a solenoid electro-magnet. With

suitable instruments it is claimed that this is an almost infallible

test as the instruments show at once when a seam or flaw is present

in the bar.