PST regularly works with companies with older machines that are difficult to service when challenges arise. One such local company approached PST in dire need of a replacement screw in a press. The machine was very old, and therefore the original replacement screws and drawings were no longer available. It was critical that the new screw match identically, or the machine would not operate efficiently.
In these situations, reverse engineering a screw is the best, and sometimes only, option. Reverse engineering allows for a replacement part to be made, even when drawings aren’t available. In addition to receiving the replacement part, new detailed drawings are also created to manufacture the part in the future.
For this customer, an order was placed for a reverse engineered replacement metric screw within a day after they approached PST. After six weeks, the replacement was loaded into the machine and the machine was operational again.
Benefits of Reverse Engineering a Screw
Reverse engineering can be essential to continue the life of old or obsolete machines. An entire machine does not need to be replaced because a single ball screw, or ball screw assembly, fails.
Reverse engineering is especially helpful in situations where a ball screw must match a previous component exactly. Through reverse engineering, it is possible to recreate the specifications of the original ball screw. A custom screw is created from those specifications to fit the needs of the assembly.
Many machines also have mating parts that are attached to the ball screw assembly. Through reverse engineering a new ball screw is created using the original design. This allows for the mating parts to remain operational. If the screw had been replaced, the mating parts would need to be changed so the ball screw would match identically.
Downsides of Reverse Engineering a Screw
Reverse engineering does result in additional time and cost to manufacture the screw when compared to purchasing a replacement. However, it is often still considered the most cost-effective method to get a machine up-and-running.
Many companies face a choice. If they choose to reverse engineer the screw, they can keep many of the existing components. Developing a new screw may cost less, but require redesigning many of the components, or even the machine in its entirety. Often the costs of reverse engineering are minimal compared to the time and fees associated with replacing the additional components.
However, there are several situations in which it may be more beneficial to find a replacement ball screw. If the ball screw assembly is catastrophically damaged, you may have no choice but to replace not only the screw, but other components within the assembly as well. In these situations, it is often recommended to find a replacement ball screw that works with the new components. This is often simpler than reverse engineering the pre-existing ball screw and designing new components to fit that screw.
Also, if the design is flexible, or easily changed, then finding an alternative screw may be an acceptable choice. In this situation, the specifications of the original screw should be considered. The travel distance, RPM, load capacity, and more can be altered by selecting a different screw design.
The PST Reverse Engineering Process
The PST reverse engineering process begins when a customer sends the ball screw and all additional components to PST. After an evaluation, the PST team determines the best method of reverse engineering through manual inspections and data recording. PST relies on years of knowledge and inspection equipment to complete the process. In addition to quality replacements, we provide a detailed drawing that can be used to manufacture the part again in the future.
No matter the challenge, the PST team is ready to get your machine back up-and-running. Contact us today to learn more.
Originally published: April 2, 2018