Determining useful life of machines and their components is a fundamental problem of any motion system design project. In a broad sense, actuator service life (or useful life) is the period during which the actuator continues to operate and satisfy its required function. This paper discusses the causes of fatigue, factors affecting screw life, load-life relationships, dynamic and static loading and other variables that should be considered when determining actuator life expectations.
The useful life of any actuator depends on the life of the components that perform most mechanical work or carry the most load. Lead screw drives are a typical example. Service (useful) life of a lead screw can be defined as the actual life achieved by a screw before it fails for any reason. Among possible reasons for its failure are: fatigue, excessive wear, corrosion, contamination, insufficient structural strength, or loss of any function required by the application.
How do you determine the life of a screw actuator and make comparisons that are truly “apples to apples?” Examples of load-life conversion calculations contained in this paper will demonstrate the importance of load on screw life and how application requirements sometimes may have to be modified in order to achieve the desired life results.
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