"Soft balls are far more difficult to machine than hard ones.“
From soft to hard but they have to be round
“I like the round balls best,” says Waldemar Drost and laughs. Now anyone who asks when they hear such a statement, “Are all balls not round?”, should be told: What the toolmaker in charge of monitoring and converting machines and for testing balls means is the balls, “that are absolutely flawless defects. “For then Drost and his colleagues do not have to rework them again.
In the so-called fine grinding in his department, the end lapping, it is all about high precision. Ultimately, the manner of machining the balls depends, according to the 54-year-old to a large extent on material density and hardness. “Soft balls are far more difficult to machine than hard ones,” explains Drost, who has been working at KGM for 22 years. But because those balls rust less, they are used in places with a lot of moisture. “Like in dialysis, for example,” says Drost. When used in such sensitive locations however, they do not allow for any mistakes and any speck of dust could rub scratches in, emphasises the mechanic.
The material softness is of benefit however, in locations where the balls have to adapt to the environment, such as in spray cans.
It is these locations where balls are used that Drost’s colleague Christof Montag from the hardening shop finds particularly exciting. The clacking of the balls in paint cans is ultimately something every tradesman is aware of. Montag has been part of the great KGM team for 26 years and praises his employer just like Drost. The two KGM employees really like the reliability. Timely payment of wages and the appreciation of their ideas through an internal company suggestion scheme are further points that Montag likes about his employer. But it is not only the general conditions that are good: he really enjoys his range of duties in the hardening shop. “The balls are put into the oven via a conveyor belt, heated to a high temperature, then quenched in oil and again sprayed with water,” explains the 47-year-old, across whose workbench many of the balls produced at KGM run. The only exception: balls made of non-hardenable steel or plastic materials- because the latter would burn in the oven.