Understanding How a Ball Screw Works

Understanding How a Ball Screw Works

Ball screws are a mechanical tool that is used in many different products and industries. Understanding how they work can get a bit tricky. Let us break it down for you in a way that will help you familiarize yourself with their unique purpose.

What Are Ball Screws?

To understand how a ball screw works, you must first understand what they are and what their purpose is. Ball screws are a mechanical tool that converts rotational motion into linear motion. They are used in a wide variety of items, such as aircrafts, missiles, robots, and assembly equipment, to name just a few. They are used by various industries, from medical to aerospace and everything in between. Here at Wedin International, Inc., we make our products specifically for our client’s purposes, and we can service any industry.

What Are the Basic Components?

When it comes to ball screws, it’s also helpful to know the components that they are made up of. Knowing each component gives you a better understanding of the mechanism’s function.

  • Screw with helical grooves
  • Nut
  • Balls – These are usually made from plastic, steel, or ceramic.

How Ball Screws Work

In a ball screw, balls travel through the nut, screw, and grooves when either the screw or nut rotates to produce continuous movement. The balls are routed into the nut’s ball return system and travel in a continuous path, moving from the starting point to the end and back again.


Ball screw classifications come in four different categories:

  • Axial Play: This is the degree a ball nut can be moved in the screw axis direction without the nut or screw rotating.
  • Preload: This is the process of increasing the stiffness in your ball screw to reduce backlash.
  • Load Accuracy: The degree to which the shaft’s rotational movements are translated into the shaft’s proportional linear movement.
  • Life/Load Relationship

Ball Return Methods

There are two ball return methods in ball screws:

  • Internal Return
  • External Return

Ball Screw Characteristics

There are a few characteristics to ball screws that set them apart from other actuation methods. They include:

  • Price difference: Ball screws tend to be more costly than other lead screws, but due to their efficiency and accuracy, the price difference is worth it.
  • Accuracy: Ball screws are more accurate than other actuation methods.
  • Efficiency: Ball screws can achieve efficiencies over 90%.
  • Lubrication: Ball screws require more lubrication than other methods.

Here at Wedin International, Inc., we have the staff and skills to manufacture the parts you need for your exact purposes. Now that you understand how a ball screw works, reach out to us if you come across any problems. We offer a full ball screw repair service that’s available 24/7 to get your machinery up and going again.