Many industries today use ball screws in various applications. When one of these screws fails, they need help immediately. This ensures the company can resume operations in the shortest time.
Rather than purchasing a new screw, the company should look into ball screw repair services. Doing so may save them time and money. However, if repairing the screw is not possible, the company may find they can have a new part manufactured. What should a person know before moving forward with the repair or replacement process?
Companies use ball screws in countless machine tools. They are beneficial for general robotics applications and might be used in milling machines. Individuals who fix milling and food processing equipment often have to repair or replace these parts, which are also found in high-precision assembly equipment. Expect to find ball screws in industrial manufacturing robots and semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
Why Do Ball Screws Fail?
Ball screws fail for several reasons. Often, the unit fails due to wear. When this happens, the ball screw not only develops excessive backlash but also loses preload. When this happens, the repair service will disassemble the unit, clean it, and perform minor repairs. The service then returns it to the pre-load state, and backlash is no longer a concern.
However, the screw might fail catastrophically. In this situation, the ball bearings are lost. The repair service may attempt to rebuild the unit, but this depends on the extent of damage to the nut or screw. When the screw cannot be saved, the service will reverse engineer and make a new unit to replace the destroyed one.
Will This Process Work with All Ball Screws?
A reputable repair service can rebuild any ball screw, regardless of the return type. However, a few legacy designs produced by certain manufacturers cannot be remanufactured. In this scenario, the service examines the unit to see if the critical components are salvageable. If they are, the service cleans and reloads the ball screw so it can be used.
What Does the Repair Process Involve?
Once a repair facility receives a ball screw, the team examines the unit to determine the extent of the damage. Before this inspection is done, however, the unit undergoes a thorough cleaning. This ensures they miss nothing during the inspection.
Once it has been determined what is wrong with the unit, the service makes repair recommendations. Often, this will include multiple solutions, which allows the customer to determine which best meets their needs.
When the team cannot repair a screw, the facility can reverse engineer and manufacture the replacement ball screw. In many cases, the client chooses to have the existing screw rebuilt. They then order a replacement for future use.
Reverse engineering requires the disassembling of the existing ball screw. The company then creates CAD drawings of the screw before machining the new part. At times, a customer states the original part doesn’t meet their needs. The design team can then come up with a new design that will provide the desired results.
Many repair facilities offer warranties today on ball screw reloads. When a warranty repair is completed, the unit will be reloaded with new balls, seals, and wipers. It then undergoes testing and inspection to ensure the unit meets standards for smoothness of operation, backlash minimization, and dead-band condition minimization.
At times, the repair service cannot restore the ball screw to like-new condition and won’t provide a warranty for the work. In this situation, the service will usually offer to repair the existing unit as a stopgap measure. This allows operations to resume until a replacement ball screw can be manufactured and delivered.
The service should share this information with the customer before any work is done. The repair to the existing screw will consist of cleaning the unit and evaluating it. The team then reloads the ball screw and inspects it.
At times, the repair service may regrind the ball screw to make it operational once again. After grinding the unit, the company installs a newly manufactured nut. However, this cannot be done with some units. The team examines the unit to determine how much of the screw shaft material must be removed during the grinding process. If this amount would compromise the strength of the assembly, the team will recommend replacement instead.
In addition, the team can make a new nut when required. They often do this when a full replacement assembly isn’t needed. They create a new nut that will fit the screw shaft once it has been refinished. They ensure the screw threads, ball nut, and larger ball bearings work together.
A company may not be aware that its ball screw is on the verge of failure. When it fails, operations come to a halt. Many ball screw repair services today offer emergency repair services, allowing operations to resume within 24 hours. This timeframe begins when the repair service receives the damaged unit. At times, the repair can be completed the same business day.
If an emergency repair is not needed, most repairs are completed within three to five business days once the screw has been received by the service. There are variations to this timeline, depending on the service’s backlog and the volume of screws received.
Up to 60 percent of used ball screws can be refurbished today. Doing so saves the company money, as the repair process tends to be 50 to 60 percent of the cost of replacing the assembly. However, a customer should request a quote for both repair and replacement to determine which option is best. In addition, this allows them to consider the option of having a spare part on hand for future breakdowns.
Work with a reputable provider for great results. Experience is key to a successful repair or reverse engineering project, as those experts who have been working in the industry have seen various scenarios and know how to handle each one.
In addition, consider the turnaround time of the repair or replacement, as ball screws are essential to daily operations in many organizations. The right repair service provider will help clients resume operations quickly with minimal disruption. This is what every organization using ball screws needs.