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Brief History of Steel Balls

Sep 05, 2017

Steel Ball.jpg

In 1883, FAG in German created the world's first ball grinder. Its appearance is so primitive; its structure is so simple; its size is so humble. However, its birth created the beginning of human steel ball manufacture. It has been history of 121 years.

In semi-feudal and semi-colonial China, there is not Chinese own bearing industry. During the Anti-Japanese War, NTN established a bearing factory (ZWZ predecessor) for adapting to ordnance maintenance. To control bearing production technology, using steel balls is produced by Japanese and shipped to China for assembly. In 1948, ZWZ has been liberated. Jin deyuan, Song Shifa and others in ZWZ bearing factory determined to change the backwardness situation that Chinese can not produce steel balls. In the absence of technology and drawings, they produce the equipment on their hands, grinding the cylinder into the sphere, creating Chinese first steel ball, creating the history of Chinese steel balls production.

After the liberation, under the ideological guidance of the central government wants to restore national economy as soon as possible, to establish new Chinese industrial system, the state established a number of large-scale key enterprises. As the indispensable accessories in metallurgy, agricultural machinery, chemicals, automobiles, tractors, machine tools and military industry – bearing, it’s unquestionably included in the ranks. ZWZ was first included in the enterprises of key development. Later, because of the need for the Korean War, HRB is established. ZWZ and HRB imported steel ball manufacturing equipment from the Soviet Union, sending Gong Zhaoliang, Li Shiliang and others to study in the Soviet Union, importing steel ball manufacturing technology and management way of the Soviet Union.

In the 1950s, building Luoyang bearing factory (included the steel ball workshop) was listed as one of 156 key projects that Soviet aided to China. The whole factory was aided by the Soviet Union. The construction of ZWZ, HRB and LYC indicates that Chinese steel ball manufactures have stepped into a systematic, large-scale and industrialized production. Due to the influence of conditions and the transplant of Soviet production mode, the bearing enterprises had changed from rings, rolling elements and cage until all the processes of assembly are all completed by an enterprise. The steel ball is an important part in bearings. In order to meet matching requirement of enterprises, ZWZ, HRB and LYC bearing factory have set up their own steel ball production workshop with the help of Soviet Union experts. They began to produce steel balls in a large quantity and cultivated a number of backbones for steel ball manufacturing. As it were, ZWZ, HRB and LYC are the birthplace of Chinese steel balls.

At that time the ball production had no national standard. It used the Soviet Union ГOCT3722 standard and the production grade of the steel ball are Ⅰ, Ⅱ and Ⅲ (equivalent to the current G10, G20 and G40). As for the actual production grade, more than 95% is grade Ⅲ and only a very small amount of products is grade Ⅱ. With the above process, grade Ⅰ can not be produced. For some military products, it has special requirements. It will increase in a single ditch lapping method to meet the grade requirements, but this method has tedious process, low production efficiency, the big difference size of the groove and high production cost.

With the reform and opening, Chinese bearing industry has developed rapidly. Especially the introduction of foreign capital and the addition of private capital, it accelerates the development of Chinese bearing industry. As an important bearing part ‘steel ball’, it also entered into ranks of the production power with the bearing.