Ball screw assemblies provide an excellent method for translating rotational motion to linear motion for many applications, including those where high loads and close tolerances are required. To apply the correct type of ball screw and nut assembly in a particular application, the design engineer must consider the advantages and capabilities of each. Selecting the right technology can reduce design complexity, improve performance and reduce the overall cost of the assembly.
This image compares the three types of ball return systems (from left to right): internal, button and external.
Ball screws are mounted in either supported or fixed configurations. A supported end holds the ball screw at one focal point and does not resist bending moments. A supported end is generally easier to align and install than a fixed one, so installation costs are typically lower. A fixed end resists bending moment loads because it is typically based on two bearings spaced sufficiently so the ball screw remains perpendicular to the planes of the rotary bearings. The fixed offers greater column strength and higher critical speed. The image below illustrates four fixity options.
The assembly can be fixed at both ends, fixed at only one end and supported on the other, supported at both ends, or fixed at one end and free at the other.
Ball screw assemblies are not all alike. Whether it be metric ball screws, inch ball screws or miniature ball screws, key differences affect their performance and extend their lives. These include:
With a history of global success spanning almost a century, Thomson ball screws have thrived thanks to their high quality, long-life performance and our reliable support. This video covers Thomson ball screw production processes, selection, customization options, applications, online resources and more. After watching, ask yourself, "What can Thomson ball screws do for me?"
Any new application requires careful analysis of product performance, life and cost. Especially those that take on larger loads. Learn why you should be considering a high-load ball screw over standard ball screws for your next linear motion application.
Presenter: Markus Brändle, Product Line Specialist – Screws, Screw Jacks and LB&G Thomson Neff Industries, Germany
How to reload the bearings into a button return ball nut. Often Metric ball nuts are button return ball nuts. But this technique can also be used on tube return ball nuts.
From all the thousands of possible choices, how can you quickly and confidently size and select the optimal ball screw solution for your linear motion application?
How to install a ball nut onto a screw from an arbor.
Because ball screws are available in both inch and metric dimensions, designers sometimes begin the specification process by selecting a product family based on the unit of measure. This decision may prematurely exclude the ideal product for the application and lead to significant losses in time, labor and expense. This article explains how sizing and selection questions centered on performance – instead of product monikers – can lead to more efficient linear motion designs.
Roller screws have been promoted as the only technology of choice for handling large loads when size is a constraint. But in actuality, advances in ball screw technology have now enabled the capability to support high-load applications as well. This is important because a high-load ball screw is typically less than half the cost of a comparable roller screw at equivalent performance points.
Used in large-scale production applications that involve continuous lifting operations but still require a human touch, collaboration robots (cobots) are gaining popularity. A French cobot maker has developed a solution that uses ball screw and cable actuators instead of gears, setting a new benchmark for cobot efficiency and safety.
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