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Axis & Ball Screw Inspection

When problems with machining accuracy occurs, it is necessary to investigate the cause.
Often excessive backlash or axis noise develops due to various factors. This “Does Not”
mean that the ball screw is at fault. Lost motion or noise can be from many sources, and
must be properly diagnosed to avoid unnecessary expense and down-time.

Systematic Inspection
1. Clean the working area inside the machine before removing covers.

2. Remove call covers, etc., to gain access to the ball screw in question. However,
keep the machine operable in order to conduct test.

3. First of all, is the ball screw and slideways getting proper lubrication?
If lubrication is not present then investigate why.

4. Visually inspect the ball screw ball grove for signs of oxidation or pitting.
If corrosion, pitting, or crash damage is seen the ball screw will have to
be replaced.

5. Visually inspect the ball screw thrust bearing bracket, (housing) for signs of
a crash. Look for loose TAC housing mounting bolts. remove and inspect
the bracket taper alignment pins. If these are bent or sheered, then a crash
has occurred.

6. In case of Z-Axis inspect the thrust bearing bracket for cracks around it’s mounting
bolt holes. If cracks are present then a new bracket will have to be fitted.

7. Remove TAC bearing bracket “End Cap” and check thrust bearing lock nut.

A. Were the mountings bolts loose??


B. Was the nut loose?
If the lock nut was found loose, then there may be damage to the thrust bearings.
Evidence of this will be that the grease around and in the bearings will have a
brown rusty appearance. If so, then the bearings “Must” be replaced.

8. Check for loose ball nut mounting bolts or damaged taper pins.

9. Check for loose/damaged drive belts or servo motor couplings.

10. Check servo motor and it’s mounting bracket for loose mounting bolts.

11. In case of an X-Axis problem, check the axis brake to see if it is releasing.
Observe AXIS LOAD display.

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


12. If noise is also present, and it varies it pitch thru full travel of the axis, then
the ball screw may be misaligned due to a collision. Check Horizontal and Vertical
alignment of the ball screw to the axis way. Parallelism should be within .015 mm
(.0006”) for Z-axis and .010 mm ( .0004”) for X-Axis.

Poor ball screw alignment can also be determined by watching the AXIS LOAD
display. Load will vary significantly thru full stroke of the axis.

13. In case of poor machining accuracy in X-Axis, The ball screw may have lost
“pretension”. Pre-tensioning, (stretch), of X-Axis ball screw, is found on certain
models. i.e. LU-15, LB Mark II Series, The Grown Lathe, The Captain, All Okuma
Grinders and Machining Centers. Almost all NEW models have pre-tensioned
ball screws on one or more axis. This is done to increase machining accuracy
and compensated for thermal growth and ball screw deformation. There are no
easy checks to evaluate ball screw stretch without disassembly . Eliminate all other
possible causes first!

Pre-tensioning of the ball screw on the upper turret requires removal of the axis
servo motor. Also, the ball nut will have to be separated from the cross-slide so
turret weight will not influence the stretch adjustment.

CAUTION! Support the turret and cross-slide with blocks or clamps to


prevent it from falling!!!!!

These systematic inspection checks are for reference. Detailed procedures for
conducting some of the checks required are covered later in this manual.

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Checking Axis Lost Motion

Repeatability and lost motion are checked while running a test program. Repeatability is the
ability of an axis to position to an exact target point a specified number of times. Lost motion
is the difference between A and B when traveling 2 inches from opposite directions.
Calculation of proper backlash settings is obtained by averaging the lost motion in rapid and
feed modes then taking the average of both.

Fig. 3-1

first referance point

X = 0.0
Z = 0.0
A X - AXIS
Target
B

Micron Indicator Second referance point

Fig. 3-2

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


PROCEDURE
1. Set up an indicator and base as ridge as possible in an appropriate position to
check the axis in question. Keep the mag base stems as short as possible.

2. In manual mode, position the axis on the indicator and calculate X and Z axis
zero using an unused tool offset. See the illustration on page 1.

3. Enter the test program into the control. Refer to figures 1 and 2 on page 4 for
example programs.

4. Start the program in single block to prove out each move before allowing the
cycle to run full automatic. At this time the indicator can be set to zero.

5. The program is allowed to run seven to ten times while noting repeatability and
lost motion. Do not run the program too many times or excessive heat will be
generated within the ball screw and thrust bearings causing abnormal thermal
drift. Run program in rapid and feed modes. Final backlash setting is
the average of both feed and rapid modes.

Caution
Do not very the feedrate override when recording data, otherwise
test results will vary.

CALCULATING DATA
1. The first move to the target position is taken as repeatability and recorded as
" A ". The reversal move to the target position is recorded as "B" and is used
in calculating total lost motion.

2. Lost Motion is calculated by taking the difference between "A" and "B".

Note
Pay close attention to the signs when recording the indicator
readings, ( + / - ).

Lost Motion = " B " more positive than " A " .

Gained Motion = " B " less positive than " A " .

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


3. When the data indicates lost motion, the current backlash compensation data
is insufficient. Compensation data must be increased.

4. When the data indicates gained motion, the current backlash compensation
data is excessive. Compensation data must be reduced.

UPDATING BASCKLASH COMPENSATION DATA


1. Press, Parameter Set mode key.

2. Press, ( ITEM ) function key to display System Parameters.

3. Select upper or lower turret data for 4 axis machines only.

4. Locate the cursor on axis backlash to be updated.

5. Press, SET or ADD function key.

6. Enter data thru the keyboard and press the WRITE key.

7. Alarm message " ALARM-D W01 Power on effective parameter set"


is displayed. For OSP 5000L-G, and early model 5020L controls, it is
necessary to wait for 3 minutes, turn off control and then turn it back on.
Data becomes effective after power is turned on again.
For later model 5020's and 7000 controls, press EXTEND function key to
display BACKUP function. Press BACKUP function key, then turn the control
off and back on again to clear the alarm message and make the data effective.

8. Confirm that the backlash parameter data has been set correctly. Repeat
steps 3 thru 7 if data is not correct.

Note
TYPICAL BACKLASH COMPENSATION VALUES.

X-Axis : .010 mm ~ .040 mm


Z-Axis : .000 mm ~ .020 mm

TYPICAL THERMAL DRIFT

X-Axis : .003 mm ~ .005 mm / 10 times


Z-Axis : .005 mm ~ .010 mm / 10 times

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


X- AXIS PROGRAM
Caution
If you are not experienced in operating the machine in automatic mode, have someone
assist who is familiar with running the machine. Failure to do so may result in personnel
injury or machine damage.

G13 or G14 ( Four axis machines only)


G90 ( Absolute Positioning )
G94 ( Set feed per minute mode)
N10 G0 X100.0 Z100.0 T?? ( Rapid mode with block delete ON )
/G01 F2000 ( Feed mode with block delete OFF )
X0.0 ( Move to target point A )
Z0.0 F2000 ( Move to indicator)
G4 F5 ( Dwell for 5 seconds)
Z100.0 ( Move off indicator)
X-100.0 ( Move to second reference point)
X0.0 ( Move to target point B)
Z0.0 F2000 ( Move to indicator)
G4 F5 ( Dwell for 5 seconds)
Z100.0 ( Move off indicator)
X100.0 ( Move to Start Point )
GOTO N10 ( Repeat cycle)
M2 ( End of Program )

Note: T?? = unused tool offset number.

Example: T32 = Tool Offset #32. No actual Rapid


tool station is called. No turret
indexing should occur. A
X-Target Pos.
(A-B)

B
For X-Axis
Rapid
Backlash = (Average @ Rapid + Average @ Feed )
In diameter

Fig. 3-3

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Z-AXIS PROGRAM

G13 or G14 ( Four axis machines only)


G90 ( Absolute Positioning )
G94 ( Set feed per minute mode)
N10 G0 X100.0 Z100.0 T?? ( Rapid mode with block delete ON )
/G01 F2000 ( Feed mode with block delete OFF )
Z0.0 ( Move to target point A )
X0.0 F2000 ( Move to indicator)
G4 F5 ( Dwell for 5 seconds)
X100.0 ( Move off indicator)
Z-100.0 ( Move to second reference point)
Z0.0 ( Move to target point B)
X0.0 F2000 ( Move to indicator)
G4 F5 ( Dwell for 5 seconds)
X100.0 ( Move off indicator)
Z100.0 ( Move to start position )
GOTO N10 ( Repeat cycle)
M2 ( End of Program)

Rapid Rapid

B A

Z-Target Pos.

(A-B)

Fig. 3-4

For Z-Axis

Backlash = (Average @ Rapid + Average @ Feed)


2

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Checking Ball Screw Preload ( Z-Axis )
1. Set up a test type indicator on the saddle
for Z-axis or cross-slide for X-axis.

2. Place the indicator point on the side of the


ball grove as shown in figures 3-5 thru
3-7.

3. Jog the axis in one direction then the next.


and note the total indicator deflection during
axis movement.

4. There should be no more than .010 ~ .012 mm Fig. 3-5


(.0004” ~ .0005” ) end-play between the ball screw
and ball nut. If there is excess end-play then
check the ball nut and housing mounting bolts.

5. If all the mounting bolts are found to be tight , then


the ball screw has lost its pre-load and the ball screw Backlash
will have to be replaced.

6. When the ball screw is removed, stand the ball


screw up vertically. If the nut spins freely down
the screw, this also indicates lost of preload. Fig. 3-6

Jog Axis

Check Bolts
Saddle

Ball Nut Bracket

Fig. 3-7 Check Bolts

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Checking Thrust Bearing End Play
1. Place a small steel ball bearing in the shaft center hole as shown in Fig. 3-6.
Use grease to hold ball in place.

2. Set an Indicator on the end of the ball to measure end-play in the TAC bearings.

3. Jog the axis back and forth and check the amount of end-play.

4. If there is more than .010 mm ( .0004” ), then check the lock-nut, and TAC bearing
mounting bolts.

5. Check the GAP between the end cap and bearing housing. You should be
able to insert a .025 mm (.001” ) feel gauge between them with bolts tight.

6. If the above items check Ok, then the TAC bearing will have to be replaced.

Check Bolts

0
+
50

50

Fig. 3-6
GAP
Acceptable Deviation
± 5µm ( .0002” )

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Checking Elastic Deformation
Free Ended Ball Screws ( LC-Series, LB-15, LB-25, LNC-8, LNC-10 )

Elastic deformation of Z-Axis ball screw can occur due to poor axis lubrication or
mechanical binding. The increased friction between the slideways and guideways causes
deviation of the ball screw at the driven end as illustrated in Fig. 3-7. The amount of
deviation varies in relationship to the distance between the end of the ball screw and the ball
nut. As the nut travels further away from the free end, the exposed length becomes longer
allowing increased flexing of the screw. Effects of axial and radial displacement of the ball
screw will be increased lost motion, vibration, and poor positioning accuracy.

Fixed End Free End


Long Distance

Elongation
Caused by twisting of
the ball screw.
Bow Fig. 3-7
Checking Method
1. Place a ball bearing in the center hole at the driven end of the ball screw using
grease.

2. Set up an indicator as shown in Fig. 3-8 to observe the amount of end-play or


deflection in the screw while jogging the axis back and forth near the headstock side.

Pulley .010 mm ( .0004” )


Free End Maximum

Radial Steel Ball


Rear
Fig. 3-8 Ball Bearings Bracket

3. If deviation is as shown in Fig. 3-9, there is 0 0


possible end-play in the TAC bearings. + +
50

50

50

50

4. If deviation is as shown in Fig. 3-10, check


axis lubrication and axis gibs. End-Play Elongation

5. Heavy binding can be also determined by observing Fig. 3-9 Fig. 3-10
the axis load display.

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Checking Ball Screw Alignment. ( Z-Axis )

After a server collision, it is necessary to check Mounting Bolts


possible misalignment of the ball screw. Check the Taper Pins
taper pins on the TAC bearing bracket and ball nut
mounting bracket.

The taper pins may be bent or sheared when a TAC Bearing


crash occurs. If the pins are found to be damaged, Bracket
then ball screw alignment must be checked.

Procedure
1. In order to check alignment you must have a fixture block Fig. 3-11
which locates on the DATUM way as shown in Fig. 3-12.
This block is precision ground and
hand scraped to have a good bearing.

2. First, position the saddle at it’s mid-travel.

3. Clean the axis way of all chips, build up,


and excess way lube oil. Especially where
the ball screw enters each bearing housing.

Alignment is checked at each end of the ball


screw in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Fig. 3-12
The ball screw must be parallel to the axis way
within .010 mm ~ .015 mm ( .0004” ~ .0006” ) full length.

4. Before alignment check can continue, you must find and mark the mid-point of
total run-out in the ball screw near the thrust bearing end. as shown if Fig. 3-13.
This is done to compensate for run-out of the screw shaft over it’s length.

Run-out Mid-Point
A
0
+ +
High
50

50

Fixture Block

Low -
Fig. 3-13

3- 11 Continued >>

Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Checking Alignment ( continued )
5. After rotating the ball screw where the indicator is at the mid-point , set the indicator
to “ZERO”. ( “A” )

6. Being very careful not to bump the indicator, move to the other end and take a reading
as near as possible to the radial bearings. ( “B” )

7. Note the difference in the two readings, ( A - B ). This will be the initial reading.

8. Make a mark on the ball screw in line with the indicator point.

9. Slowly rotate the ball screw shaft and find the mid-point of run-out, Fig. 3-15.

10. If the mid-point is in radial alignment with the mark, then the initial reading is the
true misalignment of the two housings.

11. If the mid-point is not at the mark, rotate the screw shaft until the mark is with
the indicator. This reading is the misalignment.

12. On older machines, way wear may affect the readings. Try to locate the fixture
block on the un-worn portion of the way.

Maximum Allowable Error: .015 mm ( .0006” )

A B
0 0
+ +
50

50
50
50

Datum Way

Fig. 3-14

“H” “V”
Run-out Mid-Point

+
High

Horizontal Alignment Vertical Alignment

Low - Fig.

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Alignment Quick Check

One method of checking alignment is to mount an indicator base on the saddle and
place the indicator point on top of the thread lead as show in Fig. 3-16 and 3-17.

Starting from the positive stroke-end, jog the


axis toward the TAC bearings while noting the
overall deviation. The indicator must be set up in
the “Horizontal” plane as shown in Fig. 3-15 on
page 12.
0
Total deviation should be less than +
.015 mm ( .0006” ).

50
50
Also note total shaft run-out as the indicator
is traveling the length of the screw shaft. Maximum On Top of
allowable run-out is .010 mm ( .0004” ). Ball Groove

If excessive deviation is observed, then the ball


screw will have to be re-aligned.

Excessive run-out also indicates misalignment


or even possible bent ball screw. Fig. 3-16

Saddle
0
+
50

50

Jog

Fig. 3-17

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Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub


Correcting Misalignment

Correcting misalignment is done in reverse. That is to say, the indicator is set up and
zeroed at the driven (free) end first. Then, the TAC bearing position is checked and
adjusted in the horizontal plane until alignment is within spec.

Why in reverse?
in most cases the bearing housing at the driven end does not move during a crash.
Therefore, it’s position is usually ok, and can be used as a zero reference.

Float Alignment

A B
Taper Pins Mounting Bolts

Taper Pin
Bolts
Taper Pins
Datum Way

Fig. 3-18

Procedure ( Float Alignment )

1. Loosen TAC bearing housing mounting bolts.

2. Remove housing taper pins and inspect for any damage, ( steps ). Replace with
new pins if damaged. Install pins lightly. Do not drive pins tight at this time.

3. Loosen ball nut Bracket mounting bolts, remove and inspect taper pins.

4. Install pins lightly as before.

5. Slowly jog the axis toward the headstock side so the ball nut is as close as possible
to the TAC bearing housing.

6. Carefully snug the bearing housing mounting bolts in a cress-cross pattern “X”.
Do not over-tighten at this time.

7. Carefully snug each ball nut bracket mounting bolt in a “X” pattern.

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Float Alignment ( Continued )
8. Tighten TAC housing mounting bolts again, but do not torque fully.

9. Do the same with the ball nut housing mounting bolts.

10. Slowly jog the axis to it’s mid-way position in it’s total stroke.

11. Set up the indicator as shown in Fig. 3-19 on the driven end and set ZERO.

12. Carefully move to the TAC bearing side and note the difference in readings.

Maximum Allowable Error: .015 mm ( .0006” )

B Zero Reference
A
0 0
+ +
50

50
50
50

Datum Way

Fig. 3-14
Adjustment
13. If alignment is not within allowable range, then adjust the position of the TAC
bearing housing as necessary. If readings are ok, skip to step 15.

14. Repeat steps 11 thru 13 until alignment is correct.

15. When alignment is correct, torque each bolt on the TAC and ball nut brackets
to 70% of their rated torque.

16. Remove taper pins from TAC and ball nut brackets, and lightly re-ream each
hole.

17. Install new pins. They should be taped down tight. However, ensure that they
do not cause the TAC or ball nut brackets to move during installation.

18. Re-check alignment.

19. Check axis motion for noise, excessive load, etc.

20. Check overall repeatability and adjust backlash compensation as necessary.

3- 15 DONE

Machine Tool Systems, Inc. Ball Screw Maintenance.pub

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