An endless list of components, fasteners, and other tools is available at present. They can all be used in tandem in various ways to create any number of machines and devices. While quite a few of those parts can be found in common applications, ball screws and assemblies are among the most prevalent. They’re used in numerous industries for a wide range of purposes. Some of the most common are automotive power steering systems, aircraft, missiles, machines, tools, and even robotics.
Benefits of Using Ball Screws
Ball screws have been around for almost 100 years now. They have a distinct design that features ball bearings in the accompanying nuts. This unique setup of the Ball screw provides a wide range of benefits that have propelled these devices to fame. Some of their most highly touted advantages are as follows.
1) Reduced Friction
The previously mentioned ball bearings in the nuts that accompany ball screws greatly reduce the amount of friction placed on the assembly when it’s in motion. This helps ball screws to provide better load support than their standard counterparts. It also improves their durability and longevity.
2) More Efficiency
In terms of efficiency, lead screws can’t even compare to ball screws. In fact, ball screws offer as much as 90 percent mechanical efficiency. To put this into perspective, lead screws typically offer about 25 percent efficiency.
3) Less Frequent Replacement
Another area in which ball screws outshine other options is the need for replacement. Since they’re more efficient and subjected to less friction, they last longer than other types of screws. That means they don’t need to be replaced as often, so they can save you money and prevent downtime.
Disadvantages of Using Ball Screws
Ball screws offer numerous advantages. In addition to the ones we’ve listed here, they’re highly versatile and can be used in numerous applications. Still, they have certain disadvantages as well. Those downsides should be weighed against the advantages when making a truly informed decision.
1) Higher Cost
There’s no denying that ball screws are more expensive than lead screws. Their upfront cost causes many people to shy away from them. Keep in mind, though, their longevity and durability can help mitigate this issue.
2) Greater Likelihood of Being Back-Driven
Since these types of screws are designed to operate with less friction, they can easily be back-driven. This tends to cause several problems. Installing a braking system is essential to prevent backlash.
3) Ongoing Maintenance Needs
Ball screws have a more complicated design than other types of screws. Because of their integral ball bearings, they have more moving parts as well. To foster their longevity and reduced friction, they need to be lubricated frequently. This is an ongoing process that can’t be ignored.
Are Ball Screws Right for Your Needs?
Numerous applications and circumstances could necessitate the use of ball screws. They provide a level of load strength, friction resistance, longevity, and efficiency you won’t find with lead screws and other options. While they offer numerous benefits, they come with certain disadvantages as well, such as a higher upfront cost and ongoing maintenance requirements. They also require the use of an effective braking system to keep them from being back-driven. Though there’s a good chance ball screws will meet your needs, it’s important to consider all these factors before making a final decision.