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September 2002

+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +

feature article
Wear Protection for Ball Screws
Improved Protection From Contamination Plus Sustained Lubrication By: Alexander F. Beck
Extends Life of Ball Screws
By: Alexander F. Beck, George A. Jaffe

Staying competitive in the global mar-

ketplace places great demands on production
equipment. Today’s machines routinely ope-
rate on a 24/7 basis with little, if any, down
time allowed for routine maintenance. This
means substantially greater demands on ma-
chine components, especially drives.
Machine tools are part of this trend with
their increased metal removal capability and Everybody these days is expecting
versatility in terms of complete machining. the upturn in the economy. It has been
Achieving greater productivity through redu- forecast for quite some time, but each
ced machining time means higher accelerati- time the forecasts of the past turn out to
ons and higher cutting, as well as rapid traver- be overly optimistic, new forecasts are
se, speeds. This increased speed places grea- released that push the expected upturn
ter demands on linear drives. Furthermore, the into the following quarter, or even the
fine particles generated in high-speed cutting following year. There have been a
and dry machining of hardened or other exo- number of attempts to compare the
tic materials present a new challenge to wear economic slowdown with previous
protection. ones, hoping this would help explain
why this and that happened, or did not
happen. So, is it really going to happen,
the upturn? And when?
Longevity no longer depends
solely on rated load capacity I think it’s useless to join the large
Protecting ball screws from coolant and debris is essential to extending life number of people predicting the
recovery to happen in a certain way, at
a certain time. We all know that
applied load. Two other factors must now be re is more mixed friction due to the lower rela-
Precision ground ball screws continue to recessions are more or less normal. They
considered when designing modern high speed tive speeds. This is the result of inclined con-
be the preferred drive mechanism for machine come and go, leaving analysts with the
machines – lubrication, and wear from conta-
tools. Their compact design, economical cost problem of explaining why their
and high efficiency are key advantages, espe- previous explanations didn’t work.
cially for high-speed machines. However, lon- What is more important, the industry
gevity of drive screws no longer depends so- always has to deal with the problems of
lely on rated load capacities in relation to mean The adverse effect of these either insufficient, or excess capacity. In
wear factors is premature either case the goal is to address it in the
best way possible. Take the example of
failure from loss of preload the semiconductor industry: They really
can’t be surprised with fluctuations of
their markets. No matter whether the
excursions up and down are self-
For steel balls rolling between ground induced or not, businesses in this sector
steel surfaces, there are generally three possi- must be able to deal with them - that’s
ble types of friction: Without any lubricant in the only way they can survive. It’s not
between, there is direct contact or so-called quite as bad in the machine tool
solid friction. In the presence of lubricant, the- industry, but bad enough. When all is
re is either a constant oil film between ball and The shape of the wiper segments has to said and done - what counts is how soon
race (elasto-hydrodynamic or EHD friction) or precisely fit into the surface of the screw you catch the trend, and then take the
a mixture of oil film with some direct contact thread necessary measures to deal with it in a
(mixed friction). Compared to other machine smart way. Cut cost, but do not destroy
components, such as deep groove or angular too much capacity, or crank up output
tact lines – similar to angular contact ball bea-
contact ball bearings (or even plain bearings), without letting costs explode. And better
Ball Screws in machine tools are often rings – which cause twisting, and also by the
ball screws exhibit a considerably higher de- stay competitive all over. That’s the
exposed to unexpected contamination ball returns where balls no longer roll uniform-
gree of sliding and twisting. Furthermore, the- name of the game, and those who play
ly. Another factor is sliding friction between
it better than others will have fewer
continued on page 3 problems.

In This Issue
Feature Article: Difficult Choice Events: New Products:
Wear Protection for Ball Made Easy 4 IMTS 2002 5 High-Lead Screws 4
Screws 1 METAV 2002 6 Cooled Nuts 8

Technology: Success Story: Columns:

Single Nuts vs. The Art of Carving Turbine Editorial 1 Visiting:
Double Nuts 3 Blades 2 Impressum 4 Hohenzollern Castle 7

newsletter 1
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +
success story

The Art of Carving Turbine Blades

Swiss Liechti AG Launches „g-Mill 550“ During German METAV Show

When it comes to machines that produ-

ce complex 3-D surfaces in blades or “blisks”
(bladed disks) used in aircraft engines, Liechti Liechti Engineering AG
Engineering AG of Langnau, Switzerland, is
one of the world’s premier sources. Liechti The company was fonded in
has several decades of experience in this field,
1865. Since 1910, Liechti has
and at the recent METAV show in Duessel-
dorf, Germany, they launched their new pro- built machine tools, first lathes,
duct, the g-Mill 550. This machine has been then knee mills. Since 1983 the
specifically designed for the most complex company specializes in
milling jobs, and it was worth stopping at machining centers, and the
Liechti’s booth to see this awesome piece of “Multimill” with 5 axis was the
engineering at work. first machine tool specifically
The g-Mill 550 is a world’s first from the designed for machining turbine
blade-machining specialists located in blades.
Switzerland’s Emmental area, a region known
worldwide for an entirely different product Among Liechti’s customers
(the famous “Emmentaler” Swiss cheese). This today are leading firms in the
newest machine made a significant impressi- aircraft engine and power
generator business, such as GE
It’s not easy to tell which of WHITNEY, MTU, SIEMENS
the design details caught the POWER SYSTEMS, and others.
eye first.

on on all visitors to the booth, not only those

in the jet engine business. If you know about The stunning dynamics of the g-Mill 550 caught attention during this year’s METAV show “As a result we are getting machining
times that outperform the best of our competi-
the difficulties of 5-axis machining at high me-
tion by 30%”, said Ralph Liechti, the brains (and
tal removal rates, you could learn something at a relatively low position for airfoil require the whole work soul) behind the firm’s R&D team. “Simulati-
here. easy operator access. And the piece to pivot around a point
„We are on has shown that the g-Mill 550 is hard to beat
slanted design close to the surface being ma- in terms of productivity and economics. With
makes the cor- outperforming the chined. Since the tool’s speed this new machine, we are proving our lea-
ner between best of our along the given path has to dership.”
gantry and Z- competition by stay high, the table must
axis foot much make fast moves to compen- Liechti emphasizes that the machine only
stronger - that’s 30%.“ uses the best of components, and comes with a
sate for the distance between
why it’s called work pivot point and the ac- 24-month warranty. His company provides
monobloc. The- tual mechanical pivot of the worldwide service and user support. The soft-
re is unobstruc- A and B-axis table. That’s ex- ware package “Turbosoft CAM” is also availa-
ted visibility of the work area actly what is so demanding about a turbine ble to better utilize the outstanding mechanical
from two sides, front and right, blade job. Besides the stunning dynamics of properties of this machine tool.|
and part loading with the com- both linear and rotary axes on the g-Mill 550
bined tool and parts changer is that allow the machine to contour at 1 g acce-
from the left hand
side. Perfect – LIECHTI g-Mill 550
when you see this
design you won- Max. blisk diameter 550 mm
der why all hori- Max. blade length including
zontals are not fixturing 550 mm
built this way! (with tailstock 350mm)
But when
the machine star- Travel:
ted moving, ever-
ybody standing X, Y, Z 600 mm
there stopped A > 360°
thinking about the B +70°... -250°
strange styling
and just stared in
disbelief as the Feed rates and accel:
five axis system
The image shows the rigid, yet lightweight structure of the X, Y, Z 50,000 mm/min
swung the work
slanted monobloc gantry (photo courtesy of Liechti AG) to transform a pie- 1g
ce of stainless
As the center piece in a booth whose dis- steel into a turbine blade. Besi- A 200 rpm
play suggested that something very high-tech des the slanted design it’s the 4,500°/sec²
was happening, the g-Mill 550 was shown car- axis drives that make this machi- to 25,000°/sec²
ving a turbine blade out of a block of stainless ne so remarkable.
steel, a job the engineers at Liechti call an easy A blisk used in the Eurofighter’s jet engine - a good
one. It’s hard to tell which of the many unique On the X-axis, dual ball B 60 rpm
example of what the g-Mill 550 is capable of doing
design details of the g-Mill 550 caught the eye screws support loads from the 7,000°/sec²
first, so let’s start with the unusual shape of milling spindle regardless of the
the machine. The Liechti slanted monobloc y-axis position. Single ball screws drive the Y- leration and 2,000 ipm linear speed, Liechti has Main spindle 15,000 rpm
gantry design utilizes a gantry supporting the axis and Z-axis. All screws are direct coupled a smart solution to the Tool Pivot Point (TPP)
183 Nm
X and Y-axis in a closed frame for optimum to the servo-motors. Both the A- and B-axis concept – the machine includes a sideways
stiffness, slanted 20° forward towards the ope- are direct drive using torque motors, which adjustment of the A-axis (called the V-axis) to
means there are no timing belts or gear drives move the pivot point closer to the tool tip. This Tool changer 50 pockets
rator. The Z-axis slide runs on a set of rails
to limit acceleration or accuracy. added feature not only reduces X-axis moves (97 or 144 optional)
inclined 20° as well, perpendicular to the slan-
ted gantry, so that the foremost position of the during contouring of blisks, but also reduces
When machining turbine blades, the pro- tool length for blade machining.
Z-axis puts the enormous B-axis rotary table
blem is that leading and trailing edges of the

2 newsletter
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +
The adverse effect of these wear factors axial direction, thus compromising their effec- reduced, sealing has to be improved, as flus-
is premature failure from loss of preload. Be- tiveness. hing of the ball nut with fresh lubricant no lon-
People cause state of the art high dynamic servo drives
are very sensitive to changes What’s the optimum solution? Segmen-
ger occurs.

in friction, avoiding preload ted plastic wipers, that have se- Segmented plastic wipers together with
loss becomes an even more veral edges oriented at appro- felt rings have proven to be an especially ef-
important issue. ximately right angles with the fective combination. The first “stage” in com-
Wolfgang Kloeblen, Chief Engineer, To extend the life direction of motion. The wi- bination wipers can be made from plastics with
Steinmeyer GmbH & Co. KG Therefore, to extend the of ball screws, pers (mounted on both ends of the proper mechanical properties allowing the
life of ball screws, as required cleanliness and the nut) must fit closely, becau- desired line contact and proper guidance of
in modern High Speed Posi- lubrication must se their effectiveness depends contaminants away from the screw. The se-
tioning (HSP) machines, cle- largely on the defined line con- cond “stage” is a continuous felt ring that stores
anliness and lubrication to re-
be considered tact with the screw surface. the lubricant and distributes a thin even film.
duce abrasion and adhesion Segments have to be stiff enou- Another advantage (besides the significant re-
respectively must be conside- gh to remove tough dirt from duction in oil consumption) is these combina-
red, as well as dynamic load the screw, but still flexible tion wipers can be used with any liquid lubri-
capacity. cant, oil or liquid grease. Liquid grease is par-
ticularly advantageous in applications with
short-stroke oscillating moves, or very low
speeds. Lubricant storage in the felt material
is up to 75% of its volume, and the reservoir
can be easily refilled.

Mr. Kloeblen has almost two de- As an added bonus, the felt works as a
The impact friction
cades of engineering and R&D experi- second wiper absorbing any tiny particles that
ence in the field of frictionless bearings
has on wear depends may have gotten past the plastic wiper. This
and ball screws. A graduate of the Uni- on the degree of feature is especially useful in applications with
versity of Stuttgart, Germany, he holds separation of both fine, abrasive dust or sludge, such as grinding
a degree in mechanical engineering. In members through the
1994 he joined Steinmeyer as head of the lubricant, and the
Engineering and R&D team. relative motion of As an added bonus, the felt
Among the responsibilities of his
surfaces. works as a second wiper
team are the translation of customer re-
quirements into specific designs inclu-
ding all manufacturing drawings and machines. Note however that felt cannot be
specifications, defining inspection pro- used alone as a wiper, except in relatively cle-
cedures, and standardization of parts. an conditions, as it will absorb coolant and par-
His second duty is overseeing ticles. Used properly, felt ensures trouble-free
Steinmeyer’s activities in the field of pro- operation and enables a 90% reduction in lub-
duct development and testing. And, be- ricant consumption, but only in combination
cause of his vast expertise, he is often with a good plastic wiper.
Wear in rolling
called by customers who need his expert Other products exist on the market com-
advise regarding ball screw applicati-
elements is comprised
of material fatigue as bining the two functions, sealing and lubricant
ons. dispensing, within one polymer ring. But the-
well as abrasion and
Mr. Kloeblen is member of the re is at least one difference compared to the
adhesion combination wiper described above – the po-
DIN comittee for ball screws. (microwelding). lymer material requires heat to operate pro-
perly. The ring, impregnated with oil, forms a
seal around the thread, often aided by a spring
preload. The friction created by the plastic ring
Wear Protection... rubbing on the rotating thread causes a tem-
perature rise in the material. This in turn al-

continued from page 1

Conventional life
balls due to the absence of retainers. Ball chains calculations suggest
or plastic spacers meant to reduce friction bet- that material fatigue
ween adjacent rolling balls are subject to de- is the only factor to
sign limitations, because the ball chain still has
determine life.
to pass through returns.
Neither abrasive nor
Ball screws are usually sized based on adhesive wear is
the Hertzian pressure of an applied load and factored in.
the number of load cycles experienced (the clas-
sic L10 life equations). The applied load causes
material fatigue over time. This is reflected in
the equation commonly used to calculate life

enough to stay in contact through the spring Spring-loaded plastic wipers either have
3 Life of cutting tools is extended with hard preload. protruding “fingers” or are flush mounted.
C  coatings or through the use of ceramic materi-
L 10 =  a  ⋅ 10 6 Revolutions als. Ball screw life can be improved with better When specifying these, make sure that
 Fm  sealing and lubrication. wipers with protruding “fingers” do not come lows the oil to flow out of the polymer. The
in contact with elastic end of travel bumpers. polymer is capable of re-absorbing some
It is normally not possible to cover ball In such cases, flush mounted wipers are neces- amount of oil as it passes over the thread, but
screws sufficiently to completely prevent con- sary. Wedge-shaped segments, or beveled ed- there is no reservoir to refill. And, there is no
One might conclude that with a reduc- tamination from dust and finer particles. Wi- possibility to choose between grease and oil –
tion of the mean equivalent load Fm in relation ges are desirable where large amounts of dirt
pers have to seal the nut from such particles are present. you must use whatever oil is in the plastic.
to the dynamic load rating C a, a dramatic that are often very abrasive. Regular, non-con-
increase in useful life is possible. This conclu- tacting wipers (labyrinth seals) will not keep Wipers with the added ability to store Substantial improvement in ball screw
sion may be valid for conventional, slower, small particles from entering the nut, because and distribute lubricant are becoming increa- life is possible, even in the most demanding ap-
machines. However, for modern high speed there is a gap of several tenths of a millimeter. singly popular, especially as environmental re- plications, if sufficient attention is given to pro-
machines and the associated desired multi-year Brush wipers also fail to effectively protect ball gulations on oil disposal become more restric- viding adequate lubrication and protection
lifetime, it is not valid because of two other nuts from such contamination. tive. This type of wiper can reduce lubricant from abrasive contamination. A combination
wear factors, abrasion and adhesion, that are consumption substantially yet still ensure pro- wiper with capability to store and replenish
not included in the conventional life calculati- Lip seals made from elastic materials are per lubrication of the ball nuts. Even though lubricant, together with an effective finger type
ons. Abrasive wear occurs due to contamina- substantially better. Similar to shaft seals, they the amount of lubricant lost in such systems is seal, offers a significant increase in reliability.
tion inside the ball screw nut. Adhesive wear provide a tight fit. Because they typically inclu- significantly lower compared to conventional The cost for this option is minor compared to
occurs from microwelding – a result of lubri- de just one lip that must slide on the screw sur- auto-lubrication systems, regular replenish- the downtime due to unexpected and prema-
cant film breakdown. face with considerable pressure to ensure tight ment of the reservoir is still necessary – and ture failures. And, in some cases, long-term
sealing, wear occurs. And in ball screws with close attention must be paid to cleanliness. As lubrication or even “for-life” lubrication may
large pitch they may flex significantly in the a general rule, when the flow of lubricant is be feasible if the proper lubricant is selected.|

newsletter 3
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +
technology Easy Selection: Design

Difficult Choice Made Easy Tool CD-ROM

The software allows selecting
from a database containing all standard
New CD-ROM Facilitates Selection of Ball Screws ball nut executions currently available
from Steinmeyer. It includes even tho-
se not listed in the printed catalogs. Fu-
ture releases are planned to allow de-
Steinmeyer has released DesignTool, a viations from standard dimensions and
new software program for easier selection of will allow the user to design custom,
ball screws. It allows users to select ball nuts drop-in ball nuts that still comply with
step by step from a database, review techni- feasibility rules.
cal data, and generate 2D or 3D drawings rea-
dy to be incorporated into their machine de- Steinmeyer miniature ball screws
sign. The new tool uses dynamic menus that are shown with standard length and
simplify the selection process. journals.

With the vast variety of ball nut designs, DesignTool will run on Windows
sizes and executions in Steinmeyer’s repertoire, 98 ® and higher. All commonly used
the task of presenting this information in a prin- CAD systems, both 2D or 3D, are sup-
ted catalog has become increasing difficult, if ported. A built-in email feature allows
not impossible. Several hundred different part inquiries to be sent together with all sel-
numbers are shown in the latest catalogs from ected data.
Steinmeyer, and even insiders sometimes find
Steinmeyer offers a free update
it challenging to find what they are looking for.
service to registered DesignTool users.
But it is essential that engineers have informa-
Updated CD-ROMs are mailed to regi-
tion available when they start a new design.
stered users as soon as they are released,
Or when they are looking for a replacement
so each DesignTool user is certain to
that fits into an existing design with little or no
have only current data – another advan-
changes to the surrounding parts.
tage over printed catalogs.
To solve this dilemma, Steinmeyer engi-
neers developed the DesignTool software. It
makes the whole knowledge base available to Visit or
our customers, thus saving time and elimina- call 1-800 297 6403 to order
ting the hassle of thick paper catalogs. Simply Simple menus guide the user through the selection process. With each selection made, the your free copy.
by selecting diameter, pitch, nut shape, num- remaining choices narrow down.

ber of circuits etc., the user can However, the most significant advantage
search through the entire databa- is that users get information about dimensions
se. With each selection made, the together with performance data using just a
number of remaining options nar- few mouse clicks. They can even perform cal-
rows until only one solution is left. culations of stiffness or friction torque for cer-
Even with no prior knowledge of tain preload values. Most important, only va- ful new tool to streamline their design process
the product range with its nu- lid data can be selected, and all numerical ent- of quickly and accurately incorporating high-
merous detailed choices, the user ries are checked against a range of recommen- end ball screw technology. DesignTool makes
can find the optimum solution ded values. a vast amount of specific product knowledge
with no trial-and-error. While in available to the customer without time consu-
the past certain sizes could only The development of DesignTool is an ming phone calls and application engineer vi-
Options, such as „UltraSpeed“ execution, are shown be found in separate paper cata- important step towards closer collaboration sits. And, registered users are automatically
logs, with DesignTool the selec- with customers. The Steinmeyer application kept current with the latest information and
only when available. Errors in the selection are
tion process is straightforward team is proud of its superior technical support. available designs.|
impossible. With this CD-ROM our customers get a power-
and there are no “decision loops“.

sible, depending on the duty cycle and envi- pers, and the revolutionary cooled nut. At our
New Products Events multi media display, videos on high-speed
screws and wiper design can be viewed, and
The new Steinmeyer Series 24xx is
visitors will be able to try the new DesignTool
available with leads greater than half the no-
Software. Steinmeyer is located at booth 4266
Steinmeyer has launched its series 2426 minal diameter (12 x 10) up to almost twice the From September 4 through September 11
(Lakeside building).|
and 2446 ball nuts with end-cap return. This the International Manufacturing Technology
new ball screw product is aimed at the factory Show will be held at McCormick Place in Chi-
automation market where fast motion together cago. Steinmeyer participates this year with a
with low noise is paramount. The refined end- new show concept. While in past trade shows,
cap return system features two ball circuits for Schneeberger Inc., Steinmeyer’s U.S. distribu-
dual-start screw design together with either tor since 1993, displayed ball screws together
rolled or ground thread screws. Lead accura- with their own product lines, the booth will be
cy grades are T7 and T5 respectively. The end- split this time. Steinmeyer, Inc. will be respon-
caps are manufactured from durable plastic sible for the presentation of ball screws - still
and incorporate both labyrinth and felt wipers. within Schneeberger’s booth, but using the
same corporate image concept as the German
Though considerably smaller than
Steinmeyer’s 1,000 square foot booth at last
year’s EMO show in Hannover, Germany, the
portion of the booth at IMTS that displays ball
screws will appear in Steinmeyer’s colors. This
change in the show concept occurs one year
The new nut design features built-in dual after Steinmeyer, Inc. the Bedford, Massachu-
wipers, labyrinth and felt, for low- setts based Joint Venture of Steinmeyer and
maintenance operation Schneeberger, opened for business. It empha-
sizes our dedication to provide an equal de-
diameter (16 x 30). The smooth and vibration- gree of customer service and support in the U.S.
free operation enables speeds well above tho- as in Germany.
Series 24xx allows high speeds with se possible for ball nuts with tube-type returns.
Samples of Steinmeyer’s ball screw lines
The multi media stands display videos and
relatively small motors - ideal for factory The new product line is offered - as usu- - the DIN/ISO standard line with internal re-
let visitors try hands-on the new DesignTool
automation al - in custom screw lengths with finished ends. turn, and UltraSpeed nuts in both single and
dual start design will be on display. Show high- software.
Available sizes are 12 mm (dia) x 10 mm (lead),
16 mm x 10 mm, and 16 mm x 30 mm. Vacuum lights include the new “quiet” ball screw with
By impregnating the felt with oil or grease, a end cap return, our unique combination wi-
compatible materials and stainless steel are
low or even zero-maintenance operation is fea-
4 newsletter
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +
Joint Venture technology
Established To Sup-
port Steinmeyer in the Single or Double Nut?
US Market Part I: Inconsistent Definitions Cause Confusion - More Than
By: George A. Jaffe
One Way of Building a Double Nut

Ball nuts are generally classified either The second possibility is a ball nut that load. Other designs use spacers with a num-
as “single” or “double” nuts. What seems to is preloaded with oversized balls. While two- ber of holes that allow pins or setscrews to be
be an easy distinction can actually be rather point contact requires an offset between ball inserted to couple each nut to the spacer. Ad-
tricky – definitions throughout the industry tracks of nut and screw – in our previous ex- justment of preload can then be done by adju-
are inconsistent, and what vendor “A” calls a ample, achieved because play is eliminated by sting the width of the spacer, or by adjusting
single nut may even be called a “double” nut gravity load – oversized balls cause the ball hole positions. All of these require extra time
by vendor “B”. So what is the definition of tracks of nut and screw to become aligned with and extra pieces.
single or double nut, and what are the main each other. The resultant contact orientation
differences? Let’s shed some light on this. depends on the shape of ball tracks. Semi-cir- A smarter way of locking two nuts toge-
cular ball races result in a line contact and the ther is Steinmeyer’s UNILOCK system. It
If one takes the term literally, a double makes spacers or shims obsolete by allowing
nut is made of two separate nuts that are more ball touches the races in a full line, causing
unpredictable results and increased friction. the nuts to be locked together in any position
or less identical. The obvious purpose for this that may result after the desired preload is set.
is that the two nuts can be preloaded against More advanced ball screws therefore employ
a “gothic arch” profile where the thread profi- Simple grooves with knurled bottoms at the
each other to remove any play. Conversely, face side of each nut are filled with durable
one might deduce that a single nut would then le consists of at least two arcs with a radius
somewhat greater than the ball radius, offset epoxy resin to form a toothed ring that keeps
be something that consists only of one nut, and the nuts from rotating relative to each other.
it is not preloaded. This seems to make sense, so the ball touches the races in two points. This
and in the early days of ball screws it was ac- is true for both screw and nut, so there are four Another nut design (though not used
tually true. But this has changed, and today contact points in total. much anymore) utilizes a housing that holds
both the single and the double nut are availa- Regardless of how the force is genera- two nuts inside a bore, and fitting keys to keep
In October 2001 a joint venture ble with preload. So what is it that makes the ted that pushes the nut in one direction in or- them from rotating. A ring screw is then used
was formed between Schneeberger Inc. difference? der to establish a two-point contact (through to compress the nut package, usually against a
and Steinmeyer GmbH & Co. KG. The gravity like in our example, or by pushing two spacer that is undersized. Once the balls touch
The next best guess would be to say that the sides of ball tracks and start building resi-
new company, named Steinmeyer Inc.,
double nuts are those made of two separate stance the nut package can be compressed a
is located in Bedford Massachusetts, a
pieces, joined one way or the other, while sin- little further to the desired preload. This pre-
suburb of Boston. Mr. George Jaffe, for-
gle nuts consist of a single piece of steel. At first load is however different with regard to con-
mer General Manager of Schneeberger
glance this seems to be a good guess, but then tact angles compared to the method with an
Inc., has been named Executive Vice
there are manufacturers – like Steinmeyer - oversized spacer described above. Based on the
President. The charter of Steinmeyer
who build nuts from a single piece of steel and contact lines it is referred to as “X” preload,
Inc. is to market, service and support
still call them “double” nuts. And others say while the method with UNILOCK or oversi-
Steinmeyer products in North America
they have single nuts that are basically the zed spacers is known as “O” preload. “X” pre-
Our engineering support is pre- same as double nuts, and that they offer same load isn’t used any more because it reduces
dicated on establishing a close working or even better performance. So what is the se- angular stiffness of the nut package, and the
relationship with our customers to tho- cret behind this, and why can’t the industry housing represents an extra part with toleran-
roughly understand all the important find a common way of describing things? ces and space required.
aspects of the application. With this we
Obviously there must be more to it than Last, a special form of double nut with
can interact most effectively with design
just the question of whether there is more or housing is Steinmeyer’s series 1510 and 1530
engineers and assist them in selecting A Pair of UniLock nuts. Due to the absence
less a visible “seam” in the nut. What matters for mini ball screws. This type uses a Bellevil-
the right ball screw. Through the use of any slots or holes to be aligned, nuts are
are the balls inside the nut, and the way they le-type spring instead of a rigid spacer. It is
of Steinmeyer’s exclusive Design Tool
are put under load with no outside thrust on just preloaded against one another and then especially advantageous for small ball screws
software, this selection process is grea-
the ball screw. Preload isn’t just there to eli- locked by injecting a special resin into the with fine pitch because the spring keeps pre-
tly facilitated. And, since over 90% of
minate play. Preload also helps build additio- toothed grooves. load constant regardless of nut position on the
the screws we supply are custom, we
nal stiffness, and it keeps the nut centered on
utilize additional software programs to
quickly determine parameters such as
nuts away from each other by means of a
load capacity and stiffness as well as nut
spring or spacer), the number of contact points
of each ball makes a major difference in how
The USA repair center is well the balls move and how they transmit loads
equipped to inspect and rework Stein- from nut to screw and vice versa. Therefore, it
meyer ball screws. The facility inclu- makes sense to divide and define ball nuts ac-
des a lathe for checking idling torque, a cording to the number of contact points – two
straightening station, various customi- or four.
zed inspection tools, and large inven-
Steinmeyer has elected to stick with this
tory of precision steel balls for re-pre-
definition and calls all nuts with four-point
loading of nuts. Steinmeyer ball screws
contact “single nut”, and all nuts with two-
in diameters from 16 to 63 millimeters
point contact “double nuts” even if they are
and lengths up to 1800 millimeters can
not of the split type. This definition makes sen-
now be checked locally.
A conventional double nut with se because it describes nuts from a performance
Schneeberger Inc., a supplier of spacer. The spacer is typically split so point of view, regardless of design details.
precision linear bearings and posi- it can be removed for re-grinding. The toothed UniLock grooves shown in
So what are the options? As we said ear- detail.
tioning tables, continues as the exclusi- Fitting keys keep the nuts from lier, any two-point contact requires some sort
ve North America distributor for Stein- turning relative to each other while the of axial offset between nut and shaft races. In screw. The result is the idling torque can be
meyer products, providing warehouses, nuts’ ground O.D. helps to keep them many cases this offset is achieved by using two kept constant regardless of manufacturing to-
customer service and order processing.
aligned when installed in a bore. separate nuts that have some play. A simple lerances or wear.
Ball and lead screws for our major cu-
solution to eliminate this play and establish the
stomers are stocked in either the main In the past double nuts with user adju-
desired offset would be to just turn the two nuts
Bedford facility or in Los Angeles. the shaft (or the shaft centered inside the nut, stable preload were also available. They nor-
until they touch each other. Once the preload
whichever you prefer). But the way preload is is set, the nuts only have to be coupled so they mally used a housing as well, but one of the
achieved can actually make a substantial dif- won’t come loose again. But now there’s a pro- two nuts inside could be rotated by means of a
Steinmeyer, Inc. ference. pair of setscrews, accessible from the outside.
11 DeAngelo Dr. blem: The correct amount of preload must first
be set and then maintained. This requires two Thus the preload could be re-adjusted without
Bedford, MA 01730 There are two ways to achieve preload. any disassembly work. But it turned out these
One is for the nut to be permanently forced in things: a means to adjust, and a means to lock
the nuts together. nuts were troublesome - preload adjustment
Phone 1-781-275 6097 one direction, for example by gravity in a ver- was very sensitive and the nut could easily be
tical application. In case of this “gravity pre- Various solutions have been developed: overloaded. In addition, they lacked stiffness
Fax 1-781-275 4749
load”, balls are squeezed between one side of Some double nuts use a spacer or shim inser- due to their internal construction. But the key
Toll-free 1-800-297 6403 the screw’s ball track and the opposite side of ted between the two nuts. This shim can be point to keep in mind is a properly designed
the nut’s ball tracks. Hence the balls are in a removed and ground to a certain thickness to ball screw of suitable size, load capacity and two-point contact situation. allow alignment of keyways in the nuts. Once preload value normally doesn’t need any pre-
the correct preload is set with both keyways load adjustment.
aligned, a fitting key is inserted to fix the pre- To be continued...

newsletter 5
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +
events Research on Ceramic
Materials For Use in
METAV 2002 Ball Screws
Duesseldorf’s Machine Tool Show This Year’s Key Event in Europe Steinmeyer is proud to be a team
member on two recent scientific
research projects, both carrying
EUREKA labels. Both the „Rocosurf“
project, and its successor „Rocotrib“
focus on using ceramic materials.
Duesseldorf is home to one of Sponsored by the Swiss Commission
and services, the Steinmeyer
Germany’s most important metalworking for Technology and Innovation (CTI),
booth was once again a pla-
shows. Over the years, the METAV has evol- a group of research organisations and
ce to meet with customers
ved from a locally oriented show into one industrial firms performed a series of
and discuss the latest news.
of Europe’s more important events in the laboratory tests on ball screws, linear
Clearly the outlook for the
machine tool industry. At METAV 2002, bearings, and high speed spindles.
economic development ex-
about 1,200 companies presented their latest
pected for the rest of the year
products, covering some 73,000 square me- Fundamental research on ball
was the subject to most talks,
ters of floor space. screw kinematics and wear mecha-
and many worried visitors
nisms was mainly performed at the
Despite the slower economy, 64,000 were surprised to learn that ETHZ, the Swiss Federal Institute of
visitors came to see innovations in the ma- Steinmeyer is still busier than Technology of Zurich, Switzerland. Ex-
chine tool and factory automation industry - most competitors - some- tensive modeling of the ball kinematics
not quite as many as during the previous thing we think has to do with in ball screws yielded interesting in-
show in 2000 (67,500), but still a remarkable our continued efforts to pro- sight in the typical behavior of ball nuts
number. Among the technological trends vide better products at com- with 2-point contact. Practical tests on
shown this year, complete machining, modu- petitive price levels. a test stand specifically developed to
lar machine designs, and multi-spindle ma- examine the impact tribological effects
The Steinmeyer booth
chining drew most interest. One other high- have on accuracy confirmed that cera-
appeared again with its lar-
light, not quite new but still worth a stop, mic materials have enormous potenti-
ge columns and overhead,
were the latest developments in machines al for future improvements of ball
backlit logos - a sight visitors
with parallel kinematics. Steinmeyer was present with the latest in screws.
to Europe’s key machine tool shows have come
ball screw technology. In particular, the combi-
to expect.| In a direct comparison between
nation wipers, a double wiper assembly with
segmented plastic wiper and a felt conventional ball screws with steel
wiper, was subject balls, and hybrid screws using ceramic
to most inquiries balls or steel balls with ceramic coating,
and questions. A se- the advantages of hybrid construction
cond key interest became obvious. By using a setup pro-
was the UltraSpeed viding direct measurement of friction
nut. Both were and preload forces, the coefficient of
shown in small vide- friction in the rolling contact was pre-
os, brief but very in- cisely determined. Hybrid material pai-
formative. Of cour- rings exhibited an advantage greater
se, Steinmeyer’s De- than 50% compared to steel / steel con-
signTool software figuration. A second and third series of
was on display as tests focussed on life and wear of such
well (see page 4 in hybrid screws under various applicati-
this newsletter). on conditions. Steinmeyer is currently
conducting field tests to confirm the re-
But besides sults.
providing informa-
tion about products

seconds and maximum load capaci-

Haas Automation To ty is 250 lbs for each part.
HAAS Mill Drill Center
Launch Mill Drill Cen- The machine is designed for
ter at IMTS drilling, milling and (rigid) tapping. Travel:
Its work cube of 12“ x 10“ x 12“ (xyz)
is large enough for many jobs in the X, Y, Z 12”, 10”, 12”
typical job shop. The 92-gallon coo-
High Speed Cutting (HSC), a key
lant tank and the high-volume coo-
phrase often associated with big, expensive lant pump provide plenty of coolant Axis speeds and accel:
machining centers, means metal removal at supply. Because the coolant tank is
high cutting speeds, which requires fast axis integrated into the machine base, Max rapid X, Y, Z 2,000 ipm
drives with high acceleration capability and moving and installing the machine is 0.7 g
quick tool changeover. Haas Automation as easy as it gets.
demonstrates how such features can be built
into a compact and inexpensive machining Max. cutting 833 ipm
It is not a surprise to see such a
center. The new Mill Drill Center (MDC) sleek, compact HSC machine from
meets the criteria for a HSC machine tool, Haas Automation. This is just what Main spindle 10,000 rpm
and it is a true „Haas“ - straight forward in you get when you build a HSC ma- (15,000 rpm optional)
design, compact, and easy to operate. And chine tool the „Haas way“: A simple, 15 hp
no surprise, it’s affordable. modular design using well-proven
components. Haas engineers have Max. torque 17 ft-lb
Targeting the typical job shop, the followed their strategy of developing
MDC features a compact footprint with built- @ 4,600 rpm
machines that meet the needs of the
in coolant tank, the easy-to-operate Haas con- vast majority of potential users, but
trol, as well as a 10,000 rpm, belt-driven, 15 leaving out what’s not absolutely
Tool capacity 24 + 1
HP vector drive spindle (15,000 rpm is availa- necessary. Here they have packaged CT 40
ble as an option). Its axis drives use high
everything into a small footprint,
speed ball screws for a stunning 2,000 ipm Tool change time 1.5 sec
compact machine that’s easy to ope-
rapid speed and accelerations to 0.7 g. And a This is all you need for High Speed Machining: The tool-to-tool
rate, priced competitively, yet
fast, 24 pocket tool changer for 40-taper tools new HAAS MDC (photo Haas Automation). powerful enough to significantly
with 1.5 seconds tool-to-tool time makes it a boost productivity.
true, state-of-the-art HSC machine. Dual load station:
chining time. Once machining is complete, the
Expect to see this new machine at IMTS, Capacity 250 lbs each
servo-driven changer swings the new part into
One of the highlights of this new ma- along with other developments from Haas Change time 1.25 sec
chine is its dual fixture station. It allows the machining position for almost un-interrupted
spindle time. Part changeover takes less than 1.5 Automation, such as the new GR 510 gantry
operator to load and unload parts during ma- router.|

6 newsletter
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +

Hohenzollern Castle
The Home of Prussia’s Kings Offers Spectacular Views

„The view from Hohenzollern Castle is

worth a long journey indeed...“. This quote Recommended Stay:
from German Emperor Wilhelm II describes Hotel Brielhof
the excitement visitors to this castle experi-
enced in past centuries. Once they climbed Right at the foot of the
on top of the bastions and towers of this splen- Zollern mountain, the hotel
did castle, overlooking the valleys 1000 feet „Brielhof“ is one of the
below, and turned west, an unobstructed pan-
oramic view all the way to the hills of the premier places in the area.
Black Forest greeted them on clear days. Its restaurant also runs the
The property of the last German castle’s food place
Emperor’s family for almost a thousand years „Burgschenke“.
and still today, Hohenzollern Castle was initi- For reservations and
ally built in the second half of the 11 th century.
The shape and appearance of this first castle is further information, call
+49 7471/2345 or visit
The castle was destroyed in Brielhof is located right off
1423 as a result of a family highway B27 at exit
dispute. „Hohenzollern“. From
Stuttgart airport, take B27
south direction Tübingen/
mostly unknown, but it must have been im- Rottweil. Travel time from
pressive. Situated on the Zollern mountain, a The view from „Zeller Horn“ shows this masterpiece of 19th century architecture in almost
near perfect cone shaped by erosion at a few the airport is about 30
an aerial view.
hundred feet off the cliffs that mark the edge minutes.
of the Swabian Jura, the castle was seen as one If you want to avoid the crowds and still
home of his ancestors, that the castle was sa-
of the most beautiful in Germany for almost enjoy a view of the home of Prussia’s Kings as
ved from oblivion. He was so impressed that
he started dreaming of rebuilding breathtaking as the panorama from its walls,
it. In 1850 he hired visit the “Zeller Horn”, a cliff of struction is mostly restricted to the valleys, so
architect August white rocks just opposite the the plateaus are still home to herds of sheep.
Stueler, and soon castle that offers an almost ae- Many hiking trails - also great for mountain
Hohenzollern be- The Palace is rial view of this ma-
came one of the home to a sterpiece of archi-
most imposing tecture. Those who
unique take the half-hour
castles again. And
today it is still im- collection of walk from the par-
pressive. arts. king lot near the
The castle are rewarded with
consists of two unsurpassed views
parts, the Palace and the fortifica- from the cliff. They experience
tion. With its many towers, the some of the most beautiful lands-
gothic Palace is home to a unique cape the Swabian Jura has to offer.
collection of arts started in 1952 by
Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia. 190 million years ago the
Among its treasures, that transport Swabian Jura was at the bottom of
The Yard with its gothic Palace invites visitors to rest. an ocean, the sediment of which
visitors into past centuries, are
paintings, gold and silver artwork from the 17th forms this mountain range today.
400 years. But then it was destroyed in 1423 – th
and 18 century and many artifacts from the The rock contains a high degree of
as the result of a family dispute! history of Prussia’s kings. shells from clams, coral and other Hohenzollern’s bastions offer unsurpassed views.
marine life, so it is almost white.
Construction of a new, stronger castle The castle is open to visitors year round The top layer, about 1500 feet thick, forms the
started in 1454. It was later turned into a forti- biking – lead to many of the typical white cliffs,
(with the exception of Christmas Eve). Gui- white cliffs for which the Swabian Jura is
fication by the addition of bastions, but it fell often only minutes of walking time apart, but
ded tours that take about 40 minutes are availa- known. Running southwest to northeast about
into decay when it lost its military importance offering completely different panoramas of the
ble for the palace and its many rooms and halls, 120 miles long and 30 miles wide, the moun-
after 1744. The “second life” of Hohenzollern surrounding valleys with their small towns and
and the yard invites visitors to rest or walk tain range features heavily wooded slopes, dry
seemed to be over, and soon it was but a ruin. villages.|
around and enjoy the magnificent panorama. heaths with juniper bushes on plateaus about
Food and drinks are available from the “Burg- 3000 feet above sea level, and romantic valleys
It wasn’t until 1819, when Prussian
schenke”. cut by small rivers into the softer bedrock. Con-
Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV visited the

Hohenzollern Castle

The Castle is open year round, seven days a week, with the exception of Dec. 24.
It is privately owned, and portions of the buildings are still home to the owners.
There is an admission fee, and an additional fee for the guided tour of the
palace. Opening hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the summer season
(March 16 through October 15), and 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. all other times. A
shuttle bus (fee) is available to take visitors from the parking lot to the castle
entrance. Allow about 2 hours to visit the castle. Best travel time is May through
For further information and a schedule of events, call the castle’s administrator at
+49 7471 9 35 00 or visit
There is a second castle of the Hohenzollern dynasty located in Sigmaringen, about
25 miles from Hohenzollern Castle. See

newsletter 7
September 2002
+ Products +++ Applications +++ News +++ Technology +

DIN 69 051 Updated

German DIN Standard To Reflect New Ball Screws Sizes For High Speed Machining

For years the German DIN 69 051 stan- a lead greater than 10 mm. The previous stan-
dard has been the guideline for machine de- dard, released in the 1980’s, wasn’t specific on
signers when selecting ball screws and spe- DIN 69 051 Stanard Nut Sizes (extract): lead, and manufacturers just extrapolated. As
cifying nut dimensions, accuracy grades and a result of this guesswork, they often came up
inspection methods. The fundamentals of Nominal Lead Body B.C.D. Bolt Holes Bolt Flange with dimensions that were not interchangea-
this standard have also been adopted by the Dia. Dia. Dia. x pl. Size O.D. ble among different makes. In some cases, nut
International Organization for Standardiza- mm mm mm mm mm mm body diameters and flange sizes of the next
tion (ISO) in the ISO/DIS 3408. And even bigger nominal size were selected, and in other
Japanese manufacturers offer product that is cases dimensions were just interpolated. This
compliant. Now DIN 69 051 is being updated 32 <=10 50 65 9x6 M8 80 uncertainty goes away with the newly released
to reflect the latest developments in high 32 >10 56 71 9x6 M8 86 2001-02 version of the DIN. The new DIN
speed applications of ball screws. 40 <10 63 78 9x8 M8 93 should be a big step towards true interchange-
40 >=10 63 78 9x8 M8 93 ability – especially for ball screws used in HSC
The DIN standard provided the industry 40 >=10 70 85 9x8 M8 100 machine tools.
with a strong tool for making ball screws in-
50 <=10 75 93 11 x 8 M10 110
terchangeable - at least as far as nut dimensi- Steinmeyer had already adopted the
ons are concerned. But whereas the outlines it 50 >10 75 93 11 x 8 M10 110 updated DIN sizes for its UltraSpeed line be-
defined for specifying performance data and 50 >10 82 100 11 x 8 M10 118 fore they were officially published, offering
accuracy grades helped the industry provide 63 <=10 90 108 11 x 8 M10 125 new sizes of ball screws to meet the needs of
some level of interchangeability, the sizes and 63 >10 95 115 13.5 x 8 M12 135 designers with respect to high rapid speeds,
nut interface dimensions have become an 63 >10 105 125 13.5 x 8 M12 145 thrust, and long service life. For example, the
obstacle to the latest advancements in ball 80 <=10 105 125 13.5 x 8 M12 145 nominal size 50 x 25 mm was modified to use
screw design. The reason is the small diame- 80 >10 125 145 13.5 x 8 M12 165 7.5 mm diameter balls instead of just 6 mm.
ters of the nut body were based only on inter- 80 >10 135 155 13.5 x 8 M12 175 The body diameter is now 82 mm. The gain in
nal ball deflector technology. But with ma- load capacity is an impressive 35% for a nut
chine tool speeds getting generally higher and with 6 turns. Another example is the size 40 x
with the resultant requirement for large-lead (new sizes shown in BOLD print) 40 mm. Under the old rules a body diameter
ball screws, ball nuts with returns spanning of 63 mm had to be maintained, leaving engi-
the entire nut length became necessary. Howe- neers with 6 mm ball sizes as their best choice.
ver, the lack of space inside a DIN/ISO nut Load capacities were low, often too low, and
envelope often made it impossible to use such due to the large lead/diameter ratio there was
ball returns together with suitably sized ball cult and expensive. And in some cases, the load latest ball returns that generally use a bore hole no possibility to add enough ball turns to meet
diameters. rating needed for high accelerations still could that spans the entire nut length, serving sever- the needs of modern, high speed machine tools.
not be achieved. al load ball turns in one circuit. With the new standard, a body diameter of 70
As a result manufacturers built nuts mm is possible, and the new UltraSpeed nut
with smaller ball diameters compromising In a new draft of the DIN, called E DIN These new, bigger nut sizes are availa-
ble as optional, heavy duty executions, with a from Steinmeyer with 7.5 mm ball size features
load capacities, and compensated for the lost 69051-5: 2001-02, this obstacle has been remo- a load capacity increase of 35% as well.|
load rating by adding extra ball turns. This ved. New, larger diameters have been defined choice of different nut body diameters. And,
not only resulted in more space consumption, for ball screws with large lead. Manufacturers the new DIN 69 051 for the first time defines
but it also made machining of nuts more diffi- are free to use larger ball sizes even with the nut diameters and flange sizes of ball nuts with

In The March 2003 new products Impressum

Cooled Nuts newsletter is a publication of
Steinmeyer GmbH & Co KG, Albstadt,
Germany, and Steinmeyer, Inc., Bedford
Thermal Insulation Key to Better Accuracy Mass., USA.

Oil Or Grease - How To Responisble for its content:

Select Lubricants Alexander F. Beck

Besides the adverse effect
A detailed discussion of Send comments to:
thermal expansion of screws can
lubrication methods and have on positioning accuracy, heat
lubricants for automatic, generated by ball screws in high
manual, or long-term speed applications also dissipates August Steinmeyer GmbH & Co. KG
lubrication into structural parts of machine P.O.B. 10 03 28
tools (e.g. tables, columns or sadd- 72424 Albstadt
Single Or Double nut? les) causing thermal distortion. Germany
Because such distortion is non-li-
Part II: What are the key No re-prints in whole or in part without
near and hard to predict, software
advantages of either preload compensation is almost impossi- our written consent. newsletter has
method? ble. been carefully edited. No warranty for
missing or incorrect information.
A common way of preven-
Rotating Nuts For High ting screw heat from causing ther- Printed in Germany
Speed Axis Drives mal expansion is to either pre-ten-
Design considerations, sion screws using fixed bearings at
stiffness comparison, and both ends, or to use hollow shafts
lubrication solutions for with forced cooling. Using linear flange can be cooled. And possible leaks are
advanced axis drives scales for position feedback is Steinmeyer’s Cooled Nut has coolant channels built into another concern.
another way of preventing thermal the nut body without increasing its dimensiuons.
expansion of screws from affecting Coolant ports are located on the flange. Steinmeyer has a better solution: Water
overall machine accuracy. But keep channels are incorporated inside the nut, wi-
in mind that heat is generated in both screw and as a tight fit and large contact surfaces are desi- thin its normal dimensions, so no changes to
IMTS Aftermath nut, but only the temperature change of the rable for better stiffness and strength of the con- mating parts such as nut blocks or saddles are
screw will have a direct impact on the lead ac- nection. Thus, only cooling the nut to ambient necessary. And, the water channels span the
curacy. Heat generated inside the nut must also temperature will result in a thermally stable entire length of the nut, running through the
Hanover Show 2003 be dissipated or else it will migrate into the flange as well to form a thermal barrier that
condition. One way this can be achieved is by
structure that supports the nut assembly. building a water-cooled sleeve around the nut. keeps the heat from migrating into the slide.
But such a solution requires more space and The cooled nut can be connected directly to a
Thermally insulating the nut from its water line, keeping additional cost to a mini-
the result is a less than optimum solution, be-
mating parts is almost impossible to achieve, mum.|
cause generally only the nut body, but not its

8 newsletter