Ball Screw vs. Acme Screw Drive Systems

The chart below compares the primary differences between Ball and Acme Screw drive systems.

ConsiderationAcme ScrewBall ScrewsComments
RolledPrecisionGround
Audible Noise Least audible noise Most audible noise Less audible noise than rolled screw Less audible noise than precision screw

Acme: no rolling elements provide for quiet operation.

Ball: recirculating balls in nut assembly transmit audible noise during motion; due to more accurate machining procedures - precision & ground ball screws are quiter than rolled ball screws.

Back Driving Loads May prevent back driving Can easily back drive a load Can easily back drive a load Can easily back drive a load

Acme: good for light loads & vertical applications.

Ball: recirculating balls in nut assembly producte a low friction system; vertical applications may require a brake to hold the load when no power is applied to the motor.

Backlash
Non-preloaded nut
Will increase with wear Constant Constant Constant

Acme: preloaded nut assembly eliminates backlash.

Ball: preloaded nut assembly eliminates backlash.

Duty Cycle Low to medium (< 50%) High (100%) High (100%) High (100%)

Acme: low duty cycle due to high sliding friction.

Ball: high duty cycle due to recirculating balls in nut assemble - high efficiency & low friction system.

Life Shorter due to higher friction Long Long Long

Acme: mechanical wear related to duty cycle, load & speed.

Ball: minimal wear if operated in proper environment, within load specifications, and periodically lubricated.

Relative - Cost Slightly more than rolled ball Least expensive Slightly more than rolled ball Most expensive

Acme: a little more expensive than the rolled ball screw.

Ball: due to more accurate manufacturing procedures precision rolled & ground ball screws are more expensive.

Screw Efficiency low (40% Acme, 60% Turcite) High (90%) High (90%) High (90%)

Acme: low efficiency due to high sliding friction.

Ball: high efficiency sue to recirculating balls in nut assembly - low friction system.

Smoothness Can be smooth Least smooth Medium smoothness Smoothest

Acme: due to friction can start/stop at very low speeds.

Ball: smoothness is constant through a wide speed range; due to more accurate manufacturing procedures precision & ground ball screws are smoother than rolled ball screws.

Speeds Low High High High

Acme: high friction can cause excess heat & wear at high speeds.

Ball: recirculating balls in nut provide for a high speed system due to low friction & high efficiency.

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