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The history of the ball screw

Views: 137     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2020-10-30      Origin: Site

The history of the ball screw


According to a literature in the 19th century, there was an attempt to replace sliding friction with rolling friction by means of balls inserted between a male screw and a nut, namely this is a concept of the ball screw, in order to rotate a screw of driving mechanism more lightly (illustrated below).

Because of technological level of those days, however, they could not practically apply the idea.The Saginaw Division of General Motors in the United States used ball screws practically for the first time in automobile steering gears in the 1940’s. Since then design and production technology for ball screws have made great advancement.

In Japan, as mechanical industries advanced, the call for ball screws grew louder. Responding to these voices, NSK took the initiative to develop ball screws using its expertise in ball-bearing design and manufacturing, and the company eventually succeeded in launching the first ball screw type automobile steering gears in Japan in 1958.

Although the main application target for the precision ball screws was NC machine tools, the first job for which it was used was to convert acme thread lead screws of the X, Y and Z axes of a milling machine called K5, manufactured by Makino Milling Machine Co. Ltd., into ball screws.

This K5 model was the best-selling brand in the industry back then, and over fifty machines were produced monthly. The NSK precision ball screws were used for the first time in them.

Thereafter, due to ever-progressing improvement in design techniques and manufacturing technologies, as well as needs for streamlining production in general, the high performance characteristics of ball screws soon made them one of the vital elements of NC machines,laborsaving machinery, and so on.


ball screw structure


Introduction of ball screw in The Practical Engineer, December 1898

(R. K. Allan, Rolling Bearings)



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