Company Profile

Gene Gleason, Founder

Micro Surface Engineering, Inc. is a 60-year-old, fully integrated, family owned and managed, California Corporation. We are located in the central manufacturing district of Los Angeles, California. The industrial buildings that comprise our facilities are family owned. As of 2012, we have 40,500 square feet of manufacturing space, 723 machines, and over 33,000 different balls in stock.

We can provide our customers with engineering assistance based on over 60 years of experience in precision manufacturing and metrology.

We have our ball inventory available for your immediate purchase on our web site shopping cart. If its not in stock, we can make it. So please call 800-322-5832.

Our company has extensive capabilities, and we are small enough to provide personal service. This broad array of experience includes: ball plug gages, ball seat lapping tools, ball sizing, ball valve technology, bearing technology, dimensional metrology, flexures, kinematic couplings, the metallurgy of balls and rollers, and precision engineering.

Our Bal-tec™ division is one of the top six precision ball manufacturers in the United States. Our goal is to satisfy the niche market for custom made precision balls, cylinders and associated products.

The basis of our business is our unique ability to quickly manufacture custom made precision and ultra precision spheres and cylinders and a myriad of modified forms needed by industry.

Many of these components are balls and cylinders modified with flats, holes, and threads; or are attached to other devices. We have developed extensive brazing, Electrical Discharge Machining ( E.D.M.), grinding, machining, and welding capabilities. Our precision ball making capacity extends from subminiature balls in the .005-inch diameter range to monsters that are over 17 inches in diameter and weigh over one thousand pounds.


We have state of the art C.N.C. Vertical Machining Centers up to 50 inches, some with five axis capability. We have state of the art C.N.C. turning centers up to 36 inches in diameter. These machines are Direct Numerical Control ( D.N.C. ) and are programmed and controlled from our in house Computer Aided Design - Computer Aided Manufacturing ( C.A.D.- C.A.M. ) computer system.


Our E.D.M. (Electrical Discharge Machining) department includes seventeen die sinking machines. We have one horizontal E.D.M. machine with a 60-inch capacity. We have four Fast Hole E.D.M. Drilling machines and three state of the art, computer controlled, wire-cutting E.D.M. machines. We have one very small hole, E.D.M. drilling machine that can theoretically go down to 0.002 inch diameter. We have one bath tub size machine and one with a vertical free board of over three feet. We have six fast hole ( hole poppers ).

Blanchard Grinding, Internal Grinding, Plane Surface Grinding

Our cylindrical grinding equipment includes two Studder and three Tshuden machines as well as B & S Heald and Landis Universals. The center less grinding capacity includes Cincinnati and Landis machines. Our internal grinding capability includes Studder, Bryant and Healed machines. Our Blanchard grinding capability for flat surfaces, includes 42 inch, 36 inch and 16 inch capacity machines. The plane surface grinding includes two mammoth 48-inch machines and numerous 30-inch, 24-inch, 18-inch, 12-inch and two 5x10 inch super accurate Taft Pierce machines.

We operate a complete lapping department for flat, parallel, cylindrical and spherical parts. This department has the capacity to hold gage block tolerances in all of these geometries.

We have three slicing and dicing machines for cubing up hard brittle materials as the first step in producing precision balls.

Our Jig Boring capacity extends from our gigantic P & W #3 E-C.N.C. machine down to the very petite #1A-S.I.P. We have a completely equipped # 3 Moore jig grinding machine with all of tooling, air spindles from 40 to 120 thousand RPM and the Ultra Precise rotary table with extensions, plus the large size plate with everything.

To round out our machining capacity, we have more than 100 conventional chip making machines that include: vertical and horizontal milling machines, Harding and Casanova Lathes, broach, vertical and horizontal shapers and drilling machines. We have the capacity to do the special problem jobs all within our own facilities.

Our complete in house tool and cutter grinding facility gives us immediate access to sharp accurate tools. This department includes a fully tooled #2 Cincinnati T & C grinder, a Cincinnati Monoset, a tap grinding facility, full drill sharpening capabilities and all of the off hand grinders needed.

Our welding capabilities include A.C. and D.C. arc, MIG, projection, resistance and capacitance discharge, and as well as TIG. We can do Brazing by torch, atmosphere protected furnace, and induction brazing with reduction and/or a protective environment.

Our de-burring and polishing department includes belt and disk sanding; vapor blasting, vibratory finishing and back stand polishing machines.


Our inspection and calibration capabilities place us in the top ten facilities in the world. We have six Moore measuring machines from the giant #22-32, four axis laser machine down through the spectrum of the M4 and the #3 to the small but exquisite #1 ½.

Our roundness measuring capabilities include five Talyronds, two Indironds and two Federal Air Bearing machines. Some of these machines have total error budgets in the plus or minus one micro inch range (+ or - 25 nanometers). For the ultimate in sphericity measurement we have developed a research instrument that has the capability of determining sphericity on the order of plus or minus one nanometer, which is one twenty fifth of one micro inch. See our paper "Measuring Sphericity" on this web site.

For surface texture evaluation, we have several micro-inteferometers including the Johansson Multimi, multibeam micro interferometer, three Zeiss Black Boxes, and a laboratory Proficorder. These instruments give us the ability to resolve surface quality well below one tenth of one micro inch Ra.


The Talyrond machines have selected filters that will isolate the waviness part of the spectrum from geometry and surface finish. This is an important capability, because it is an absolute evaluation that is traceable to N.I.S.T. It is not some company's personal opinion based on some contraption or the other, without repeatability or traceability.

We also have the Bendix waveometer for both balls and bearing races.


We have a Wilson 4JR Rockwell hardness test machine, a Kentall superficial hardness test machine, a Steel City Brinell hardness test machine, hydraulic presses, specimen mounting presses, a liquid cooled Buhler abrasive cut off saw, a Buhler liquid cooled diamond cutoff saw and all of the miscellaneous equipment needed to operate a full capability metallurgy lab. Our metallurgy lab includes two research Metalographs and two conventional metallurgical microscopes, two macro graphs, a 60,000 pound and 6,000 pound universal tensile and compression testing machines, a low capacity universal tensile and compression testing machine, a Sharpy and Izode impact test machine, liquid cooled belt and disk sanding machines, and three Buhler metallurgical polishing stations,

Micro Hardness

We have four Leitz Miniload setups for Vickers and for Knoop micro-hardness testing.

Ball Grinding

Our extremely well equipped main ball-grinding department is temperature controlled at 68 degrees Fahrenheit ( 20 degrees Celsius ). This eliminates the size measuring problems associated with temperature and greatly improves our delivery by eliminating the soaking time required to thermally equilibrate the balls for measurement.

This department is augmented by our large ball grinding department for producing balls from 1.5 inches to 17 inches in diameter, our fine precision ball grinding department for grade 5 and grade 10 balls and our ultra precise ball grinding department is set up for our ultimate quality balls. It is located in a temperature controlled clean room.

For producing large diameter and exotic material, we have extensive CNC turning capacity

Ceramic Balls, Tungsten Carbide Balls

Our ceramic ball grinding facility is combined with our Tungsten Carbide ball grinding department. This department is housed in a separate building from the standard ball ( steel ) production area.

One of the newer additions is a C.N.C. ceramic machining and grinding center for all manner of ceramic ball modifications.

Blanking Balls

Most ball blanks are produced by cold heading individual spherical shapes from rolls of wire or cylindrical bar stock. We have 40 cold heading machines available for producing ball blanks from 1/8 inch to over 5/8 of an inch diameter. We have a gigantic four and one half inch ( 4.5", 114.3 mm ) upsetter for large quantities of large balls.

Small quantities of larger diameter ball blanks are usually machined on one of our seven highly automated C.N.C. turning centers.

Machinery Updates

We have converted our tool room facilities over to full blown CNC turning and machining centers. This effort has been an outstanding success. Productivity of this department has improved 40%, and the quality and the uniformity of the tooling has improved.

With over 723 machines of every description, you would think that is enough; but to meet our customers' ever changing needs, we just keep adding more.

  • A four axis spherical grinder with a 40 inch capacity
  • A five axis ceramic machining center
  • Two new Haas vertical machining centers
  • Three new Haas turning centers
  • A Haas horizontal machining center
  • A new 10 by 30 inch surface grinder
  • A #3 Moore jig grinder
  • Three more Agie EDM die sinkers
  • An Agie CNC fast hole drill
  • A miniature hole drilling machine
  • 44 more ball grinding machines have been added
  • Our sixth CNC hole popping machine is now on line
  • We are completing the installation of fifteen more precision ball grinding machines
  • Six new sub miniature ball grinders are up and running.

We have completed a 23 machine "stand by" ball grinding department. This reserve capacity will be used to reduce delays caused by surges in orders, which has always plagued us.

We have initiated a separate ceramic and tungsten carbide department.

We have added fifteen more machines to the precision department to increase production of grade 5 and grade 10 balls.

Our ultra precise department now has its own Talyrond inside of the facility, to reduce bottlenecks in the main lab.

Gleason Research Library

Our technical research library contains a huge collection of books related to precision engineering.

There are over 5000 books on the material sciences alone, including, metallurgy, metallographic etchants, ceramics, plastics technology and construction materials.

This part of our book collection includes the personal library of Dr. Jack Medoff, my former metallurgy professor, R.I.P.

A key area of interest for our company is the science of hardness testing. We have collected every book, paper and specification on hardness evaluation that we have been able to get out hands on right up to the proceedings of the latest NIST conference on hardness testing.

Our Technical Library includes a large section of books on precision engineering, including the proceedings of the American Society of Precision Engineering (ASPE) conferences and all of the Precision Engineering Journals.

This large collection of functional books is backed up by a substantial array of texts on the basic sciences of chemistry, physics, electrical engineering and mathematics.

We have a good collection of books on optical instruments, optical technology and optical shop practices, including Deve and Twimin. We have a first edition copy of Lord Kelvin's Baltimore lectures.

We have a large collection of books on celestial navigation, particularly with regards to the instruments used. We have a copy of the limited edition of the "1926 Survey of the Worlds Astralabs."

We have a large collection of books related to surveying particularly with regards to the instruments that are used.

Our collection of books on dimensional inspection takes a large section of the library. It covers everything from surface texture, including the works of Indge, to the accurate measurements of very long dimensions. We have one of the six copies of the British, 1864 inter comparison of length standards from around the world.

The Axis of rotation, of spheres, cylinders and cones is well covered with an array of books, technical papers and manuals.

We have a large section of books related to the axis of rotation of spindles. We have an array of books on bearings and bearing metrology for anti friction, gas and fluid film bearings. This area of the library contains our large selection of books on Tribology, which supports our work in kinematics.

A major place in the library is held by books on manufacturing technology. We have everything from the first text book of the Ford Trade School to the latest Machinist Hand book.

This array of books on manufacturing technology covers everything from the operation of manual lathes and milling machines, to a first edition copy of Dr. Swigarts, "Story of Super Finish" and the books published by the Moore Tool Co.

To increase the capacity of our main library, we have installed four more three foot by seven foot book shelves. This will increase the accessible capacity of the main library by 640 volumes.

Our technical research library is bursting at the seams.

We recently added more than 500 more books of a broad spectrum of interests, covering everything from electronics and optics to metallurgy and machine shop.

These books are from a noted Caltech Physicist and Engineer's Library.

The time line on these books range from just published to antique text, dating back to the eighteen hundreds.

Some of the old optical texts are amazing, actually predating "Deave".

These books will take several weeks to shelve and many months to catalog and integrate into our system.

Please keep us in mind when you end up with technical books to liquidate.


If you have any books that would fit into our library, and you are looking for a safe home for them; Please contact me personally at (323) 582-7348, I might be interested in buying them. Gene Gleason

New Building, Summer 2012

Because of our broadened product lines and the increased number of computer controlled machines tools that are required for the increased production, we needed to buy an additional 12,000 square foot building.

This modern, high bay, concrete tilt up building, has 26 feet of clearance under the tresses.

It has two huge loading doors, one of which is equipped with a “Dock High” loading platform.

The building is fully sprinkled for fire protection.

The high efficiency sodium lighting in this building provides near outside lighting conditions.

This building is equipped with both single phase and three phase electrical power.

This new building is conveniently located immediately adjacent to our other two existing facilities in Huntington Park, California.

The large finished offices in this new building will provide us with a new location for our recently acquired research and development laboratory.

December, 2012

We keep making steady progress in both our quality and our production capability.

We have recently completed a total renovation of our cylindrical grinding department. We have added three inches of R-Max polyurethane insulation to the ceiling and the four walls of this large room. This enormous thermal barrier totally eliminates all influence of the external environment.

We have installed two new roof top air conditioning units that more than doubles the old capacity. It can get quite warm in Southern California where we are located.

We have increased the grinding wheel and wheel hub storage and we have added additional cabinets for better organized storage of all tooling.

January 2015

What’s happening? 7 of 14

You can’t produce the product without the capability.

Our new 800amp. electrical substation has been completed after eleven months of work.

We have added 28 new ball grinders and set up a new short run department to handle the overflow of custom size ball orders.

Last month we added two more five axis milling centers.

We purchased a small thread rolling company which we are integrating into our C.N.C. machining facility in the Huntington Park California facility.

We have received delivery of an additional Okamada surface grinder to improve delivery on our new product line of flat lapping tools. We are adding a very small six inch diameter, flat lapping tool, to round out the eight, twelve and fourteen inch diameter tools, that we now produce.

We are introducing our gigantic new, two and a third meter long “Unistraint” ball bar at the C.M.S.C. conference in North Carolina. This gigantic artifact is revolutionary, because it is so rigid that it just doesn’t bend, so the length of the artifact remains constant no matter where it is located. It will be used primarily to calibrate Laser Trackers and large Articulating Arm portable C.M.M.s.

The “Ball Lance” which is used for calibrating micrometers and calipers as well as a proficiency testing device, the flaw-test gage, to evaluate the proficiency of the users of these tools, is now off the shelf. We've perfected a production method for building a precision flaw-test gage to go with the ball lance for training operators in exactly what various gaps feel like through the lance operator's hands.

President's Corner

Please see also our President's Corner for more information.

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