Precision Ball Splines

October 14, 2022
Precision Ball Splines Deliver Rotary and Linear Motion on a Single Shaft

Thomson Industries, Inc., a leading manufacturer of linear motion control solutions, has introduced a line of precision ball splines that enable robust delivery of rotary and linear motion on a single shaft. These 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 extra effort and lost some ground to pre-packaged, multi-shaft solutions. 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,” said Charles Isaac, Global Product Line Manager - Linear Bearings and Guides at Thomson.

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. That opens a low-friction path through which the balls move to facilitate low-friction axial displacement, while also transmitting torque.

The new line of Thomson high-precision ball splines is ideal 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, like opening the cover of a sample jar and pouring it in a test tube. And they are especially cost-effective in industrial robotic applications that require high-speed, precise integration of rotary and linear motion without the wide freedom of movement of robots.


Thomson precision ball splines are available immediately in lengths up to 300 mm; 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 also has extensive customization capabilities to tap holes, add step-down assembly for a radial bearing, build in coaxial holds, or provide just about any modifications a user may needed to integrate the ball spline unit into their machine.

Related Glossary Terms

  • tap


    Cylindrical tool that cuts internal threads and has flutes to remove chips and carry tapping fluid to the point of cut. Normally used on a drill press or tapping machine but also may be operated manually. See tapping.


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