September 29, 2022

ThomsonSplines400x275Thomson Industries, which manufactures linear motion control solutions, has announced a line of precision ball splines that enable the delivery of rotary and linear motion on a single shaft. The new components give designers more flexibility to compress an assembly, extend a stroke, distribute a load or otherwise meet modern automation demands.

“Ball splines have provided an elegant, single shaft solution for integrating rotary and linear motion on a single shaft assembly but did require some effort and lost some ground to pre-packaged, multi-shaft solutions,” said Charles Isaac, global product line manager for linear bearings and guides at Thomson. “Meeting today’s industrial automation demands, however, requires more design flexibility than pre-packaged assemblies can provide, and we are proud to be offering machine builders this new family of ball splines for high-precision applications.

Thomson said ball splines exploit the low-friction torque transmission capabilities of rolling balls, and augment that by adding one or more axial grooves (also known as splines) along the assembly shaft. This opens a low-friction path through which the balls move to facilitate low-friction axial displacement, while also transmitting torque.

The new line of ball splines is aimed for high-speed operation in compact spaces, such as laboratory automation or semiconductor pick-and place assembly. They can automate functions that a human might otherwise perform, such as opening the cover of a sample jar and pouring it in a test tube, Thomson said. They are also cost-effective in industrial robotics applications that require high-speed, precise integration of rotary and linear motion without the wide freedom of movement of robots.

The new precision ball splines are available immediately in lengths up to 300 mm, with diameters between 6 and 30 mm standard. Larger diameters of 40 and 50 mm are available upon request. They can handle loads up to 1,000,000 Nmm, speeds up to 10,000 rpm, and with precision of ± 17microns with or without flanges.

Thomson said it can also provide customization options to tap holes, add step-down assembly for a radial bearing, build in coaxial holds, or other modifications to integrate the ball spline unit into their machine.

For more details on the technology, visit the Thomson Industries website here.