3 Tips for Protecting Ball Screws in Harsh Environments

3 Tips for Protecting Ball Screws in Harsh Environments

Ball screw assemblies are essential to machining and production. Exposure to harsh environmental factors puts production at risk. In this article, we will help you navigate issues and provide some solutions.

Monitor the Environmental Temperature

The environmental temperature plays a significant role in the function and operation of ball screws. There are optimal temperature windows for each ball screw assembly, and anything outside of those windows can cause the shaft length to fluctuate in size.

These shifts in size are caused by a process called thermal expansion. And while thermal expansion can cause trouble in basic machining, there are several techniques engineers can use to mitigate the issue. The most feasible method is to control the environmental temperature to align with the assembly’s optimal temperature.

In situations where the temperature shifts outside of manual control, a custom-fixed bearing on either end of the assembly can set the tension and prevent the screw from shifting.

Ball Screw Seals Make a Difference

Contamination is a prevalent issue in ball screw assemblies, but you can take measures to prevent contaminant buildup. Attaching seals to the ball nut can deter liquids from seeping through to the raceway or bearings. The seals can also aid in maintaining a quality lubrication performance inside the parameters of the seal.

There are multiple sealing options available, each corresponding to a specific component of a ball screw assembly. Full-contact seals help keep the raceway from experiencing any form of contamination, while wipers prevent contamination by solids.

Component Materials Matter

In harsh environments, the material selection can make or break the basic function of your ball screw assembly. High-capacity bearing ball screw assemblies are almost always made of durable steel. Steel is best for rugged implementation and environments and withstands the demands of machining. But the coating applied to a steel ball screw assembly can also enhance its performance.

Protective coatings like black oxide or electroless nickel work best for the housing of the ball nut and protect against general material degradation. But some manufacturers will suggest a stainless steel initial material because this metal performs best in situations where chemical or water exposure will be prevalent.

If your ball screw assembly experienced damage as a result of environmental factors, it’s vital to partner with a trusted and reputable ball screw repair service. Wedin International has led the industry for over 40 years in ball screw assembly corrections and custom manufacturing. Partner with us today to learn more!