Finishing of Silicon Nitride Balls for High-Speed Bearing Applications

[+] Author and Article Information
M. Raghunandan, R. Komanduri

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078

J. Manuf. Sci. Eng 120(2), 376-386 (May 01, 1998) (11 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2830137 History: Received April 01, 1996; Revised March 01, 1997; Online January 17, 2008


A batch of 12, HIP’ed silicon nitride (Si3 N4 ) balls (NBD 200 from CERBEC) of 13.4 mm nominal diameter were finished by magnetic float polishing (MFP) process. These balls contained a large rim of material (about 200 μm thick × 5 mm wide) around the periphery at the parting line originating from the HIP’ing process. The finishing process consisted of three stages–1. semi-finishing using a 17 μm B4 C abrasive at 4000 rpm spindle speed to remove the rim on the Si3 N4 balls, 2. intermediate finishing using a 17 μm B4 C abrasive at 2000 rpm spindle speed to reduce the diameter and the sphericity, and, 3. final finishing stage using a 3 μm SiC abrasive, followed by 1 μm SiC and 1–5 μm Cr2 O3 . The balls were finished to a final diameter of 12.7 mm with an average sphericity of 1.3 μm (0.5–2.0 μm) and an average surface finish, Ra , of 24.6 nm (16.6–39.8 nm). The total time for finishing was about 21 hours. This, however, included an intermediate stage of finishing with Cr2 O3 in order to address some problems experienced earlier in attempting to obtain good finish. As this stage is not required under normal circumstances, some 4-1/2 hours of polishing time can be saved resulting in total polishing time of about 16-1/2 hours. This time should be compared to some 4–6 weeks required for conventional grinding and lapping of ceramic balls. The technology is easy to implement in the manufacturing shop floor requiring very little capital investment.

Copyright © 1998 by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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