What are Jackscrews and How do they Work?

A jackscrew, also known as a screw jack or jack screw, is a type of linear motion actuator capable of lifting or moving loads along a linear axis. Unlike other actuator types, the jack screw relies on the rotation of a lead screw to lift moderately heavy weights. As such, they are often used to raise vehicles, manage the horizontal stabilizers of aircraft, support housing foundations, and more. In this blog, we will discuss the functionality and common types of jackscrews, allowing you to better understand how they are implemented in various applications.

Generally, a jackscrew will be made up of a heavy-duty vertical screw and a load table that is fastened into threaded holes located on a stationary support frame. For the rotating collar to operate, it is fitted with a handle. As the handle rotates clockwise, the screw will adjust in and out of the base. With the movement of the screw, the load that is placed on the load table can be moved as necessary. In order to transmit the force needed for managing loads, a transmission product such as a lead, roller, or ball screw is used for the conversion of rotary motion into linear motion. With such a process, the gearbox assembly will be capable of pushing, pulling, locking, unlocking, titling, rolling, pivoting, sliding, lifting, or lowering loads. Furthermore, jackscrews can handle loads that range from a few kilos to thousands of tonnes. Due to their capabilities, jackscrews serve as standard elements for countless automated machines.

While hydraulic jacks and other hydraulic equipment have long served as the primary actuators of many assemblies, electromechanical actuation as provided by jackscrews is becoming increasingly popular in recent years. This is due to the fact that electromechanical actuators surpass hydraulics in energy efficiency. Furthermore, the electric motors that drive jackscrew actuators only utilize energy when the load is being adjusted in terms of positioning. Hydraulics, meanwhile, consistently require pressure application to maintain the positioning of a load.

Electromechanical actuators such as the jackscrew hold various advantages, those of which are beneficial to operations and the personnel who carry them out. For one, jackscrews are self-locking, meaning that they will remain in place in the event of a power loss for increased safety. Additionally, they enhance energy efficiency and precision, leading to decreased maintenance and manual intervention. Furthermore, their smooth force delivery and increased range of actuation for variable positioning can make them advantageous for a number of situations.

Depending on one’s needs, there are three primary types of jackscrews that one may choose from, those including machine or worm gear screw jacks, ball screw jacks, and bevel gear screw jacks. These three groups can further be broken down based on the mode of operation required by a particular actuator. Generally, the most common modes of operation for jackscrews include translating jackscrews, translating keyed jackscrews, rotating jackscrews, translating jackscrew systems, and rotating jackscrew systems.

If you find yourself in need of jackscrew components and other actuator products, look no further than NSN Unlimited. As a premier purchasing platform, NSN Unlimited operates as a trusted distributor for bearings, fasteners, connector parts, and aircraft parts that have been sourced from leading manufacturers that we trust. With our unfaltering dedication to providing top-quality parts, we conduct operations with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. With 24/7x365 availability of our team members, we can facilitate rapid procurement with personalized quotes for your comparisons, person-to-person communication every step of the purchasing process, and much more. If you are ready to begin sourcing parts and components that you depend on, get in contact with an NSN Unlimited industry expert today and experience the future of purchasing.


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