Der Kunde macht die Kugel


Harder, heavier, lower wear: How SiLi in Warmensteinach responds to the requirements of the market

Development never stops. This does not just apply to the development of new products flooding the market. Before making products you need an idea. A design. A material. And: The means to process the material. Ceramic beads from the SiLi company in Warmensteinach, the Sigmund Lindner GmbH, are used in uncounted processes. And they are developing along with the requirements of manufacturers.

The ceramic grinding beads that have made the Sigmund Lindner GmbH from Warmensteinach in the Fichtelgebirge renowned on the world market are subject to a continuous process of further development. And who turns the setting screw on ever more challenging requirements? The client! “We often get requests from clients, who have a product or want to offer one, for which standard grinding beads are not sufficient anymore” says Dr. Achim Müller, product manager for Ceramic Beads, the ceramic grinding beads made by SiLi. “The client comes with a material he wants the beads be made from – grinding beads from the same material as the product he wants to offer.“

The ceramic grinding beads with diameters between 0.1 and 2.5 millimeters have to meet continuously higher requirements, says Müller. This applies to the conventional zirconium oxide beads in their versatile types and uses as well as to the specialized beads developed by SiLi. The annual production volume at SiLi of zirconium oxide beads alone amounts to circa 100 to 150 tons.

“The wear of the beads should be as low as possible. The client wants to use the beads as long as possible. At the same time, the quality of his products shall certainly not change“, says Müller. The challenge that SiLi encounters there: „High duration of the beads and potentially lowest contamination of the product.” Because: During a product process “the client cannot change the beads”, Müller says.

The specification profile is thus permanently raised for various application areas. According to Müller, the developers at SiLi, among other issues, work on a tungsten carbide grinding bead, which can be used, e.g. in the production of printing colors. “The density of the tungsten carbide beads is about 50 percent higher than the density of standard grinding beads. Thus, they apply a higher energy impact in the grinding process. Consequently, the client can grind his product finer and also potentially faster and such achieve more stable production flows.” An application profile that could not be facilitated sufficiently with conventional zirconium oxide beads.

Another new development by SiLi, owed to the progressing development on the illuminants market are beads from silicon nitride, “used for LED-materials”, as Müller explains. While grinding beads from Warmensteinach have been used so far mainly in the lacquer, paint and pigment industry or in the pharmaceutic industry, the range is now also extending towards manufacturing of new battery types: Silicon carbide beads, currently developed at SiLi, can be deployed in silicon production. Also just new on the market: Beads from yttrium oxide. “The beads are suitable for LED manufacturing, since yttrium is an element from the group of rare earth metals. Thus, contamination of the material or product processed by the client cannot occur.”

Another exciting material from the company developing grinding beads consists of a special ferrite composition. These beads are driven by an externally applied magnetic field and thus can be used in a completely new type of grinding mills. An application area for the magnetized beads is e.g. the dressing of cement.