Technical Blog

Eco-friendly Ballscrews: Reduce, Re-use, Recycle

Reducing the use of hydraulics and replacing them with eco-friendly electro-mechanical actuation allows for the removal of waste associated with constantly running pumps whilst also eliminating hydraulic fluid leaks.

How do you adapt a Ball Screw to a level which will make our environment eco-friendly?

The answer lies within the three “R” technique: Reduce, Re-use and Recycle

If people could apply the three “R” technique with Ball Screws then we will all benefit from a greener environment.

Reduce

Corrosion and wear are two of the largest enemies of bearing-type products such as Ball Screws. Coatings and platings were originally designed over the years to provide protection, however, these processes are costly and they use harmful chemicals. The worst being Cadmium, Zinc, Lead and Chromium.

New grades of Stainless Steels have been introduced in the last decade that offer properties for bearing grade materials that wont require the harmful plating process. Although Stainless Steels are not the answer, we can reduce the usage of coatings and platings that cause harmful chemicals. When enquiring into Ball Screws always ask for materials that are ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directives) compliant. Acid free zincs, nickels and black oxide are a few of the friendlier coatings offering good environmental protection.

The machine tool industry has long preferred the use of high lustre polishing in lieu of coatings or platings that can affect Ball Screw stiffness characteristics. This fine polishing technique minimises corrosion initiation sites and the use of lubrication with anti-corrosion additives acting as a preservative.

Re-use

Clean the Ball Screw and use it again. It is that simple.

Of course, a few of the components may require replacement however refurbishment of worn out Ball Screws is a common occurrence. Did you know, 50% of Ball Screws removed from service only require a thorough clean, re-straightening and the replacement of the bearing ball to place it back into working order.

Putting in place a preventative maintenance cycle can extend the working life of a Screw and reduce its life cycle costs by avoiding permanent damage. Balls will generally wear faster than the Ball Nut, with the Screw itself wearing the least. Replacing just the Balls and Ball Nuts will shrink the cost of a repair as the Screw absorbs the majority of the cost.

Bearing journals and other mounting surfaces may become damaged during use or removal, but these can still be repaired. Suggest to the person re-building the journal to utilise metallizing techniques which re-build journals with a Stainless Steel additive. Metallizing can be carried out at a workshop, therefore, expediting repairs.

Recycle

If you are unable to refurbish your Ball Screw then the scrap value of all the elements are recyclable. Steel brings a good return at scrap value, and Polymers and wipes/seals used in return systems are also reclaimable.

Using Ball Screws in Green Applications

Ball Screws can be used in technologies which contribute to a healthier environment. These typically include:

  • Electric Vehicles – replacing common hydraulic systems
  • Wind Farms – use Ball Screw actuation in blade pitch and directional position
  • Hydro-Electric Stations – to control gates
  • Solar Panels – use of electro-mechanical actuators to provide two or three-axis movements.

Take a look at the Ball Screws we have available for more information. Have any questions? Call us on +44 (0) 1403 792 300 or email sales@heason.com.

Article published on: 14/06/2016