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Screw Jack Alignment Is A Critical Assembly Consideration

By: Chris Popp
Director of Sales and Marketing
DieQua Corporation

While not one of the more glamorous components in a machine design, the screw jack is a critical lifting and positioning device in an amazing variety of applications. Its ability to turn rotary motion into tremendous linear force, within a compact envelope, is one of the miracles of mechanics.

However, properly integrating a screw jack into a specific piece of machinery is no small feat. Beyond the actual selection of the appropriate size and configuration the mounting of a screw jack takes special care.

Screw jacks can take very little side load. Therefore any side forces, either from weight or misalignment, must be minimized or eliminated. This is usually accomplished by guiding the load with rails, rollers or linear bearings of some type. It keeps the load moving in the intended direction without undue strain on the nut, or internal threads in the case of a traversing spindle, from something other than the axial load it needs to move.

Aligning the guides to the jack (or vice versa), therefore, becomes one of the critical exercises in mounting screw jacks, or any other linear actuator for that matter. Otherwise it’s like trying to screw in a bolt that isn’t centered to the thread of a nut.  It doesn’t want to go in without extreme force and usually results in thread damage.

One potential problem to achieving this is that guides are often attached to independent support structures. These structures have tolerances that can be extensive if they are weldments instead of machined frames. Even then, mounting machined frames accurately has it’s own issues.

The key here is to understand the challenges in creating a design that allows for both the parallelism and angularity that the jack and the load’s guides require of each other. After that, being able to execute the construction of the design in the shop is a real world problem that many assembly technicians struggle with.

Make it easier on them. Think about the best overall system design while considering parallelism, angularity, type of guide system, mounting surfaces, distance between supports, lift distance, and all the tolerances that come into play. With a little fore thought everything will fall into place much easier.

Chris Popp
Director of Sales and Marketing

05/2015

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