Upgrading leadscrews to ballscrews

Compared to leadscrews, ballscrews are quite simply the best thing since sliced bread.

Over the past 2 years, we tried out leadscrews in all shapes an forms.

First the 8mm Openbuilds leadscrews. They were fragile, and often got bent during transport, installation, or even packing. And at 1500mm they whip when rotation speeds are set high. They were not cheap either. And the supplier was far away, creating supply chain problems during the first Covid-19 wave in March and April 2020.

Then, we moved to a supplier nearby of standardized trapezoidal TR10 leadscrews. They were somewhat less fragile than the 8mm Openbuilds ones, yet, customers still regularly reported bends. Whip also still exists. Plus, the TR10x2 had a very low pitch, resulting in slow homing movements, much to the frustration of some customers who need machine for production purposes rather than private or hobby use.

So now we are moving towards these options:

  • TR12 as standard (TR12x3) as have a better pitch than the TR10x2’s and as the 12mm makes them less subject to bending. These don’t have machined ends, so the standard holes in the workbee plates need to be enlarged slightly to 12-13mm opening. We provide 12mm bearings that fit the workbee plates, but there is a little downside: they do not have a plastic or metal dust cover, so they may need to be replaced over the lifespan of your machine when dust clogs up.
  • 1204 ballscrews as upgrade. These have yet better pitch than the TR12’s and have machined ends so the standard bearings can be used (with dust covers) and they have precision M10x1 thread to put them under tension with a thrust bearing

This tutorial describes the installation of ballscrews, after removing the leadscrews.


1. Attach the ABS or delrin nut holder to the metal ballscrew nut

Important: NEVER remove the ballscrew nut from the screw! There are tiny little metal balls that will fall out and that are impossible to put correctly in again – it will require to buy and ship a new ballscrew nut

Coming soon


2. Attach the ballscrew to the end plates

First, start with the side that has the M10x1 thread.

Take a 10mm collar with the two precision hex screws:

Fit in the two precision hex screws:
Place it over the end of the screw:
Then take a 10mm precision shim:
Also place it over the screw:
Then take a 10mm ID 16mm OD bearing:
Also place it over the screw:
Don’t worry if the bearing does feel difficult to slide on the part behind the M10x1 thread. When you’ll screw the end plate on, it will automatically slide on that part.
And then take an end plate, to attach it to the rail and with the screw through the hole in the plate. Watch the orientation of the hole where the bearing needs to fit in:
Then move to the other side and also there bolt on the end plate!
Picture coming soon
On that other side, take an 8mm ID 16mm OD bearing:
And slide it on the end that sticks out:
Then take an 8mm precision shim:
Slide it on the end of the screw:
Then take the supplied circlip
And attach it. Use the optional pliers if necessary
Then we go again to the side with the M10x1 thread!
There, take a thrust bearing:
And slide it on the screw:
Now take an M10x1 precision thread nut:
And turn it onto the M10x1 thread! And build up tension on the screw!
If you need to fixate the screw in some way, then it’s easy to just attach the 10mm collar and keep it positioned in it’s position with the hex driver:
And now you have succesfully put the screw under tension!


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