Tech Talks

Belt-Driven Actuators vs. Lead Screw Systems

Tech Talks by igus helping solve design engineering problems with motion plastics

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by Matt Mowry Product Manager, drylin ® linear systems, igus ® Inc. Pre-assembled linear slide tables from igus ® are designed to save engineering time and resources. They are also flexible enough to meet the demands of a wide range of applications. Compared to recirculating ball bearings, self-lubricating drylin ® linear bearings used in linear slide tables offer various technical advantages and significant cost savings when used in most applications. The two most common types of actuators from igus ® are lead screw driven actuators and belt-driven actuators. There are differences between the two that are important to understand before deciding which to use in a given application. In order to help facilitate the process, igus ® also offers an easy to use online drive technology configurator. Lead screw systems use a lead screw nut to convert the rotary motion of a motor or hand wheel into the linear motion of the carriage assembly. For more information on lead screws, read this tech talk. Lead screw actuators are ideal for low-cycle positioning applications rather than applications that are constantly cycling (belt-drives are the best option for these applications). Due to the amount of torque that lead screws are able to generate, they are well-suited for moving heavy loads up to 25,000N (5,625lbf). There are many lead screw diameters, leads and materials available, as well as stepper motors, DC motors and hand wheel accessories. The limiting factor for speed is dependent on the type of lead screw bearing support used: iglide ® plain bearings or sealed radial bearings. Moving a given screw at an RPM higher than its recommended length can potentially lead to resonance and noise. igus ® plain bearing tables' maximum allowable RPM is 100RPM. Using the chart on the following page, the maximum length vs. RPM for tables using ball bearing supports can be found. Lead Screw Systems vs. Lead Screw Systems Belt-Driven Actuators Learn more at

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