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Mechanical alloying is a non-equilibrium processing technique in which different powders are

milled to create one mixed powder with the same composition as the constituents. The resulting
powder can consist of distinct phases of the original powders or be a homogeneous solid solution of
all the alloying elements. MA allows the creation of alloys that are not possible using more
traditional melt processing techniques. First developed in the 1960s by the International Nickel
Company to produce high temperature nickel alloys, mechanical alloying has found widespread use
for oxide dispersion strengthened materials, magnesium based alloys, wear resistant spray coatings,
oxide and carbide strengthened Al alloys, and many niche applications. MA is used on a wide
variety of materials including polymers, ceramics, and metals to produce amorphous alloys, extend
the solid solubility limit of a material, refine the grain size to sub micron range, or induce chemical
reactions at low temperatures.

The powder mass, termed the charge, is combined with a milling medium inside a closed
container before alloying.
The milling medium usually consists of spherical balls, but cylindrical rods and other shapes
are also used. The milling balls must be larger and preferably harder than the powder being milled.
In addition, high density materials are desirable as they can impart more energy to the powder.

A conventional ball mill consists of a rotating, horizontal drum containing a mixture of balls
and powders. The centripetal force raises the milling balls until, overcome by gravitational force,
the balls fall to the bottom of the drum, striking other balls and powders. There are many variations
to this simple design including shaker mills, Attritor® mills, planetary ball mills, and other
specialty devices. Some examples are shown in Figure 1.

Fig. 1: a -conventional ball mill, b- shaker mill, c- attritor mill, d- planetary ball mill

Planetary ball mills can mill several hundred grams of material at a time. They consist of hermetically
sealed vertical cylinders that are mounted off center and on top of a rotating disk, as shown in Figure 1d.
The cylinders, which hold the powders and balls, spin on their own central axis in the opposite direction
of the rotating disk. Thus, the powders and milling balls experience centrifugal forces from both the
rotating large disk and the spinning vertical cylinders. This combination creates alternating forces on the
milling balls, and the balls impact and grind against the cylinder walls in a back and forth fashion. High
ball velocities similar to shaker mills can be achieved with planetary mills, but due to the lower
frequency of impacts, these mills are considered low to medium energy (Thesis - Nicholas John
Cunningham - March 2008).
Mechanical milling applied to polymers such as polyamide, polystyrene and polyethylene have
shown that this treatment resulted in considerable alteration of both crystal structure and
microstructure. When applied to polymeric mixtures it has proven to improve the compatibilization
between the different components and increase the degree of dispersion and. The combination of
mechanical effects, such as impact, compressive and shear forces, is expected to induce radical
chain scissions within polymer particles. Reaction of macromolecular free radicals, from different
chain species of intrinsically incompatible polymer could couple and produce a more stable blend
by grafting.
Very recently, it has been proved by the authors that High Energy Ball Milling (HEBM) can
help to obtain novel nano-composites with new characteristics, difficult to obtain by other
conventional techniques (Carbohydrate Polymers 75 (2009) 172–179).