Ball Powder is a double base propellant, that is mainly consists of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin. There are basically two features which make it stand out from other double base propellants. First its spheroidal shape, which varies from spherical beads to lens-shaped beads produced by crushing the powder in a roller. Second its manufacturing process, which is totally different from that used for single, double or triple base propellants, either with or without solvents.
GDELS-SBS ball powder is manufactured using an internally developed process, which is different form the widely-used and classic OLIN (USA) process. The processes are differentiated by their initial raw materials and by the phases and operations which these materials undergo. Santa Bárbara's has its own patented process. There is another ball powder factory in operation in Italy, which was sold by GDELS-SBS in 1990.
The main advantage of ball powder when compared to other types of propellants is its high charge density and its greater energetic capacity which are achieved without increasing the erosive effect on the gun barrel, due to the bead's combustion control. Ball Powder is used for small and medium-caliber ammunition (up to 20 mm). 5.56 and 7.62 mm are the most frequently-used ammunition using ball powder.