Lead Screw | Applications, Advantages, Disadvantages, Types

By | January 7, 2019

What is a lead screw?

Lead screw is a type of screw which is used as linkage in machines. It converts rotary (or turning) motion into linear motion.

Due to large contact area between male and female members of a lead screw, it has very high frictional losses.

lead screw

Advantages of lead screws

  • They are generally self-locking
  • They have minimum number of parts
  • Their working is quiet
  • They require very less maintenance
  • They offer very precise and accurate linear motion
  • They offer very large mechanical advantage
  • They are easy to manufacture since no specialized machinery is involved in its manufacturing
  • They are simple to design
  • They are compact
  • They have very high load carrying capacity

Disadvantages of lead screw

  • They have very poor efficiency
  • Due to very high friction between male and female parts, wear and tear is high

Applications of lead screw

  • Jacks
  • Presses
  • Vices
  • Machine slides
  • Linear actuators

Types of lead screws

Lead screws are classified on the basis of type of thread used. Hence, they can be classified into following three types.

  1. Buttress thread
  2. Acme thread
  3. Square thread

Alternatives of lead screw

  • Piezoelectric actuation
  • Electromagnetic actuation
  • Gear trains
  • Fluid power
  • Roller screws
  • Ball screws

Below are some common questions and answers related to lead screws

What is the function of leadscrew?

The function of a lead screw is to convert turning motion into linear motion.

What is the difference between a leadscrew and a ball screw?

In ball screws surface friction is replaced by the rolling friction of balls, which is much lower. A ball screw is much more efficient than leadscrew.

Also read:

Advantages of threaded joints

What is a power screw?

Types of heat treatments performed in metals

Types of lathe machines

Image source:

Featured : By © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56578630

Lead screw: By Orion Lawlor – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30616623



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