Technical Blog

Ball Screw and Lead Screw Differences

Ball screws and lead screws form part of an effective linear motion transfer system and are part of our product range at Heason. In many applications, you could use either a ball screw or a lead screw, but the two devices have some differences and will therefore be better suited to particular applications.

What are Ball Screws and Lead Screws?

Ball screws and lead screws form part of our precision screw range. They are used to transfer rotary motion into linear motion.

Ball screws and lead screws are threaded bars of metal with either a threaded nut (lead screws) or recirculating ball bearings (ball screws).

Ball Screw and Lead Screw Differences

Very often, in an application, either a ball screw or a lead screw can be used. However, there are key differences between them.

The main difference is the way that they work. A ball screw design is far more complicated, it uses recirculating ball bearings which minimize friction during use. A lead screw uses either a metal or plastic nut to move along the threaded screw. The use of ball bearings minimises the friction within the screw which is often associated with lead screw use. 

Because of their working mechanisms, another very big difference is the price. Because ball screws are a lot more complex they are more costly than the simpler lead screw.

Leadscrews can also be made to self-lock, an important feature for vertical applications, they also offer quieter operation.

Another difference between ball screws and lead screws is the application they are selected for.

Ball screws are generally better suited to more industrial applications, these usually require a higher load. The applications they are suited for generally require smooth motion, high efficiency, accuracy, precision and continuous or high-speed movement.

Lead screws are used in smaller or lighter duty applications and OEM applications. They are more easily customised and are well suited to transfer applications where speed, accuracy, precision, and rigidity are not as vital as they are for more industrial applications suited for ball screws.

Ball Screws and Lead Screws Comparison Chart

To see the differences, take a look at the below comparison chart:


Ball Screws

Lead Screws


Recirculating ball bearings

Threaded screw with plastic or metal nut

Industries and Applications

Large, industrial-scale applications

Smaller OEM applications


Higher cost

Lower cost


Higher load capacity

Lower load capacity


Complex design

Simple design – easy to customise for applications


High efficiency, accuracy, precision.

Efficiency, accuracy, and precision are not as high.


Ball Screws & Lead Screws from Heason Technology

All our ball screws and lead screws that we offer are from our supplier Thomson Linear. They are all well suited to linear motion applications.

Ball screws offer excellent reliability and reliable performance, our ball screws consistently perform the way they are expected to. The materials used are to the highest quality and are compatible with many applications ensuring a long life.

The Lead screws we can offer are available in various types. We provide assemblies with high axial stiffness, zero backlash and minimum drag torque to reduce motor requirements; this means that systems they are used within will cost less, perform better and last longer.

Browse the lead screws and ball screws on our website. If you would like more information or help with your application, please contact us.

Article published on: 23/08/2021