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A mill is a device that breaks solid materials into smaller pieces by grinding, crushing, or cutting. Such comminution is an important unit operation in many processes. There are many different types of mills and many types of materials processed in them. Historically mills were powered by hand (e.g., via a hand crank), working animal (e.g., horse mill), wind (windmill) or water (watermill). Today they are usually powered by electricity.

The grinding of solid materials occurs through mechanical forces that break up the structure by overcoming the interior bonding forces. After the grinding the state of the solid is changed: the grain size, the grain size disposition and the grain shape.

Milling also refers to the process of breaking down, separating, sizing, or classifying aggregate material. For instance rock crushing or grinding to produce uniform aggregate size for construction purposes, or separation of rock, soil or aggregate material for the purposes of structural fill or land reclamation activities. Aggregate milling processes are also used to remove or separate contamination or moisture from aggregate or soil and to produce "dry fills" prior to transport or structural filling.

Grinding may serve the following purposes in engineering:

  • increase of the surface area of a solid
  • manufacturing of a solid with a desired grain size
  • pulping of resources

A VSI mill throws rock or ore particles against a wear plate by slinging them from a spinning center that rotates on a vertical shaft. This type of mill uses the same principle as a VSI crusher.

Tower mill

Tower mills, often called vertical mills, stirred mills or regrind mills, are a more efficient means of grinding material at smaller particle sizes, and can be used after ball mills in a grinding process. Like ball mills, grinding (steel) balls or pebbles are often added to stirr

Tower mills, often called vertical mills, stirred mills or regrind mills, are a more efficient means of grinding material at smaller particle sizes, and can be used after ball mills in a grinding process. Like ball mills, grinding (steel) balls or pebbles are often added to stirred mills to help grind ore, however these mills contain a large screw mounted vertically to lift and grind material. In tower mills, there is no cascading action as in standard grinding mills. Stirred mills are also common for mixing quicklime (CaO) into a lime slurry. There are several advantages to the tower mill: low noise, efficient energy usage, and low operating costs.

Types of grinding mills