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Hartford Technologies Blog

Balls and Ball Bearings for Medical Applications

Posted: Jan 11, 2021 9:23:52 AM

Medical devices use precision specialty balls, pins and assemblies in applications ranging from IV administration to surgical tools. Materials used for medical specialty balls include glass and plastic as well as 302, 304 and 316 stainless steel balls, pins and assemblies. It is of utmost importance that engineers pay strict attention to the ball and pin cleaning requirements because the medical industry requires strict cleanliness standards. For example, ultrasonic cleaning capabilities as well as a cleanroom are necessary to meet the most demanding requirements for medical specialty balls. 

For ball applications in the medical industry, the following materials are commonly used:


Common materials used for balls in medical devices include: 

  • Stainless steel (especially SS302, SS304 and SS316)
  • Polyamide (PA)
  • Polycarbonate (PC)
  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Borosilicate glass

Their applications and advantages will be discussed below.

Medical Ball Applications

Some common medical ball applications include devices that are involved in dispensing or metering, flotation balls (polypropylene, polyethylene), and rolling elements (e.g. in a bearing).

Intravenous Inline Check Valve

Stainless steel or plastic balls ensure flow of medicinal fluids into the body only. They can be gravity or spring actuated but must be made of materials that are completely innocuous to bodily fluids. Custom balls can also be used to control the flow rate of medicine into the body. Polyethylene has high chemical resistance, is biologically inert, and is cost-effective. Polycarbonate balls are used in insulin pumps, inhalers, and more. Polycarbonate boats impact resistance, clarity, temperature resistance, and makes a good prototype material.

3 Ball Spirometer

These custom specialty balls are made of medical grade plastic and the density/weight of each ball is uniquely controlled. These balls are used to measure and/or exercise respiratory function. Polypropylene is cost-effective, handles steam sterilization, recyclable, and is also low density. Polyamide (nylon) has good mechanical properties vs. most plastics, and high temperature resistance. In addition, polyamide does not require lubrication and is also environmentally friendly.

Quick Disconnect Couplings

Another application for custom balls include in hospital rooms which require quick connection to life saving oxygen. These connections often times use a compliment of ultraclean stainless steel balls. Stainless steel is corrosion resistant (especially SS316), has high chemical resistance, high strength, and low cost (compared to more “exotic” metals like titanium, etc.).

Bearings for Medical Devices

Any medical/scientific equipment that actuates or rotates utilizes some type of custom ball bearings. Non-catalogue custom bearings can also be used for most medical and scientific equipment that that warrants medical grade material and cleanliness. Borosilicate is a material with many uses because of its temperature resistance, chemical resistance, and low coefficient of thermal expansion (dimensional stability).

Typical precision required

  • Stainless steel = grade 100 or better
  • Plastics = G0 or GI
  • Glass = G200 or better

If you would like to learn more about our pins, our precision specialty balls, our customized bearing assemblies for medical devices, our ultrasonic cleaning, or any of the other products that we offer at Hartford Technologies, we invite you to contact us today.