How it works:
It starts with a metal wire about the same diameter of the ball its creating, it gets fed into a machine that has a kind of mold/cutter with half the sphere shape on each side and this punchs the metal into a rough ball shape.
These rough balls are then put into another machine that rolls the balls between to heavy hardened plates of steel, this starts to take the rough edges from the cutter off the balls and starts the smoothing process. This machine is awesome! It has little grooved tracks where the balls enter, get squeezed into a spherical shape, and evened out, then they move to a different track where they are done over and over again until all the balls turn out exactly the same size. They can change the size of the balls they are making due to the speed they spin the metal plates at and the duration that the balls are left in the machine.
Our Balls for Better Bearings Rock Solids and Lickety Splits are then heat treated that hardens the balls for smooth performance with you skate them.
Next the balls go through a grinding operation. The same kind of machine is used, but this time the coolant contains an abrasive. The balls travel through the grooves again and get ground down and compressed to their final dimensions.
Finally the balls go through a similar machine that uses much less pressure and instead of using an abrasive it uses a polishing gel, this final stage is what gives them the mirror finish look with out removing any more material and making sure they are exactly the same size. Have you noticed how shiny the Lickety Splits are!
The last step in the process is inspection. The balls are measured with very accurate machinery to determine if they meet the required tolerances. For instance, the Anti-Friction Bearing Manufacturers Association (AFBMA) has a set of grades for bearing balls. A grade three ball has to be spherical within 3 millionths of an inch and the diameter must be accurate within 30 millionths of an inch. This means that for a grade three quarter-inch ball, the diameter would have to be between 0.24997 and 0.25003 of an inch and the smallest diameter measured on the ball has to be within 3 millionths of the largest diameter. That means that they are about as round as you can get anything!!.
A slightly different process is used with ceramic balls like the ones we use in out Flash Lightnings but that's for another blog.
Hope you found this interesting!