Ball screws are an integral part of movement in many machines. In general, ball screws are fairly low maintenance, but they will inevitably need a bit of attention. The lubrication of your ball screw assemblies is essential to keeping them operating smoothly. This article will teach you how to choose the right lubricant for a ball screw.
Why Do Ball Screws Need Lubrication?
Lubrication is one of the most important parts of ball screw maintenance. Proper lubrication helps minimize friction between the parts of the ball screw assembly, allowing the parts and the machine it’s a part of to move and operate smoothly. By lubricating your ball screw assembly as needed, you’ll improve its performance and extend its lifespan.
Clean Your Ball Screw First
Before you lubricate or relubricate your ball screw, it’s important to clean it first. Over time, old oil, grease, or bits of debris build-up within the ball screw assembly. If left unaddressed, this debris can catch between the moving parts of the ball screw, which can damage the screw and even lead to its failure. Make sure the ball screw is clean and dry before applying new lubricant.
Oil or Grease?
When it comes to the type of lubricant to use on your ball screw, it can seem that there is a world of options. But before considering the specifics, pause for a moment and consider your two main options: oil and grease. Here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons of each.
Oil is easy to apply at a controlled rate directly to the part of the ball screw that needs lubrication. It’s ideal for assemblies in which too much heat is a concern, as oil has cooling qualities. As the oil flows through and lubricates the assembly, it can also flush out some contaminants. On the flip side, oil is more expensive to apply than grease and can introduce new contaminants if too much is applied.
Grease is a lower-cost lubrication solution that can be applied directly to the shaft of the ball screw or into the ball nut. It does not carry the same risk of contaminating the ball screw assembly as oil does. On the downside, grease tends to accumulate at the ends of the ball nut travel, which can attract unwanted debris. You also may encounter issues if your new grease is incompatible with the old lubricant. Regardless of whether you choose oil or grease to lubricate your ball screw, you’ll need to choose a specific type of lubricant that complements the specifics of your assembly.
After reading this guide, you should know how to choose the right lubricant for a ball screw assembly. But even with proper maintenance, the best tools still break sometimes. If your ball screw assembly needs a repair, the team at Wedin International, Inc. is happy to offer our ball screw refurbishment services to get your machines back up and running.