Ball Screws

Sustainability through efficiency

Ball screws from August Steinmeyer are manufactured with the aim of achieving low primary energy consumption in the application. Innovative technologies and grinding processes ensure optimum power transmission from the motor to the carriage and low friction – for more sustainability, less wear and a long service life.

August Steinmeyer GmbH & Co. KG manufactures high-quality ball screws for mechanical and plant engineering as well as medical, semiconductor, aerospace and aeronautical engineering. For over 100 years, values such as quality and durability have been the focus of entrepreneurial activity in Albstadt. Many years of experience, a spirit of innovation and targeted training measures enable the manufacturer to continuously develop new and sustainable technologies for manufacturing and drive engineering.

"For us, sustainability already starts with consulting, because innovative technologies are often developed on the basis of demanding requirements in machine and apparatus engineering and the realization of customer-specific projects," says Wolfgang Klöblen, Head of Development at August Steinmeyer. A responsible approach to the environment and the raw materials used are at the forefront of the development, production, packaging and logistics of the manufacturer's ball screws. "As early as the design stage of our products, we pay attention to an efficient and resource-saving procurement and production strategy, and we also strive for low primary energy consumption in addition to high quality and reliability." The utilization of compact installation spaces, a high level of precision in manufacturing and the performance of life tests make the ball screws from Albstadt particularly sustainable and durable. The company also offers repair of the drive components, thus enabling a resource-saving product life cycle.

Low wear and long service life

The nut series with August Steinmeyer's advanced ETA+ technology is an example of sustainable developments in the company. The process ensures optimum power transmission from the motor to the slide: "This not only significantly reduces the wear of precision ball screws and extends their service life," emphasizes Klöblen, "it also reduces energy consumption in the application by up to 50 percent." This is made possible by reduced friction, increased stiffness and increased efficiency. Reversal error is also virtually eliminated, so that an ETA+ ball screw shows completely linear behavior in terms of speed, load and direction of rotation under all conditions. This significantly reduces control deviations. This is particularly evident in a circular forming test, where overshoots during quadrant changes are virtually eliminated. In addition, the higher stiffness and lower friction allow considerably more dynamics in the application.

A positive side effect of the ETA+ technology is the reduced heating, which makes additional cooling unnecessary, and the noise-damping effect, which even exceeds the effect of a ball chain. Due to the reduced friction and the associated minimal preload loss, the service life of the ball screw is significantly extended. When changing to an ETA+ ball screw, it is generally not necessary to change the adjacent construction, as the installation dimensions remain the same. Only a recalibration of the control loops is recommended so that the advantages in the control behavior due to the process can be fully exploited.

Less lubricants, more reliability

For a minimum of lubricants and a maximum of reliability, August Steinmeyer has developed special wipers for its ball screws: The so-called double wipers are combined segment and felt wipers. They are used where problematic contamination can occur and it cannot be ruled out that water or water-based cooling lubricants come into contact with the nut. Should the cover fail, the use of double wipers minimizes the likelihood that the ball screw will fail.

Steinmeyer offers two different designs of double wipers: Laser-sintered sleeves with webs for the synthetic felt and integrated segment wipers are used for nuts with single-flight deflections, deflection ledges and Z deflections with nominal diameters from 20 to 160 mm. The wipers are fastened in the nut on both sides by means of special screws - the increase in installation space is minimal. For nuts with axial total deflections and nominal diameters from 32 to 100 mm, laser-sintered sleeves with webs for synthetic felt are available. They are fastened with a clamp piece that engages in the recess of the deflection - here, too, the increase in installation space is small.

August Albstadt uses a strip of PUR ester-based synthetic felt in its double wipers for precision ball screws. This material not only reduces friction between the wiper and the spindle shaft, but also features an oil absorption capacity that is around five percent better than conventional felt strips. Users thus benefit from improved lubrication of the ball screw and lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

Precise ball screws: it's all about the finishing touches

As part of the further development of its products, August Steinmeyer has also established an optimized thread grinding process for the spindles of its ball screws. This allows microscopic irregularities on the raceway surface of the screw thread to be removed and its surface roughness to be significantly reduced. This results in improved lubrication, smoother or smoother running of the nut, and greater uniformity of the idling torque over the entire length of the screw. The result: less vibration and reduced noise at high speeds, as well as higher quality, smoother running and longer service life. Thanks to the improved grinding process, August Steinmeyer can offer particularly economical components that enable an energy-efficient design of the respective drive and also meet the increasing requirements of high-precision applications.

To improve the quality of ground workpieces, August Steinmeyer has invested in an oil system that allows higher pressures and better filtration. On the other hand, the company has also developed new nozzles for cooling the grinding contact zone and additional coolant nozzles for in-process cleaning of the grinding wheel surface. "This allows a better supply of the cooling medium to the grinding contact zone and more effective cleaning of the grinding wheel," Klöblen explains. "As a result, welds on the abrasive grain are reduced and no stress pockets are formed in the grinding wheel pore, and the heat supply into the workpiece is significantly reduced." The company also successfully uses the innovative cooling and cleaning technology developed in-house in its grinding processes for the production of spindle threads. Thus, any comma formations and irregularities on the surface of the spindle thread can be avoided.

Sustainability, employees and added value

In addition to sustainable production of efficient ball screws, August Steinmeier is also characterized by fair treatment and a high regard for its employees. More than 100 years ago, the cosmopolitan and future-oriented company established itself at the Albstadt site. From the very beginning, the company has been an important employer in the region, attaching great importance to social commitment and sustainable management and currently following the guiding principles of the WIN Charter of the state of Baden-Württemberg.

"Above all, we focus on the topic of sustainability - to transmit incentives or even impulses for action by a company to its workforce and stakeholders is a valuable task," Wolfgang Klöblen emphasizes in conclusion. Already in 2019, with the segmentation of the production lines for more transparency in the process chain at August Steinmeyer, essential steps were taken for a sustainable orientation of the company and further advanced by measures such as the use of sustainable resources through renewable energies or recycled materials as well as short transport routes and regional products. "With our corporate practices, we want to contribute to more sustainability overall, and through our DIN ISO 50001 energy management system and ISO 14001 certification, we have already been sending a clear signal for years to protect the environment."

Pictures: August Steinmeyer

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