24 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

New ballscrew technology could double service lives

NSK’s ballscrews balance load distribution more evenly, extending their lives and allowing smaller shaft diameters

NSK has developed a ballscrew technology that, it claims, can double service lives compared to standard ballscrews in some applications. The new ballscrews are aimed, in particular, at high-load applications such as injection moulding machines and servo presses which are switching from hydraulic to electric drive operation using servomotors and ballscrews to save energy.

The new technology balances load distribution in the ballscrews more evenly. As the load on a ballscrew increases, the load on different parts of the ball circuit becomes uneven, concentrating on a small subset of balls. This shortens the life of the ballscrew.

The new technology combines precision machining, digital-twin simulations and accurate measurements to balance the load distribution. It also allows smaller shaft diameters to be used, cutting costs and machine sizes.

NSK says that the move to electric injection moulding technologies – driven partly by the need for large, lightweight parts with complex shapes for use in electric vehicles – is, in turn, driving the need for long-life ballscrews.

To boost the productivity of electric injection-moulding machines, machine-builders are looking for “high-cycle” designs with high feed rates. These high feed rates increase the distance that ballscrews need to travel in a given time, thus increasing wear – hence the demand for longer-life ballscrews.

The first high-speed, high-load ballscrews to offer the new technology are NSK’s HTF-SRC series, which have outer diameters from 100-200mm. They are interchangeable with NSK’s current equivalent models, so machines will not need to be redesigned.

NSK hopes that the long-life ballscrews will achieve sales worth 1.2 billion yen ($8.86m) by 2024.

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