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18th January 2024

Ball Screw Brakes: Advantages, Applications, and Manufacturers

In This Article

Ball screw brakes are essential components in various industrial applications, where precision and safety are non-negotiable. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of ball screw brakes, exploring their functionality, importance, advantages, and applications. We’ll also introduce you to some prominent manufacturers and discuss the future of electric hydraulic brake systems. 

What Are Ball Screw Brakes?

Before delving into the specifics, let's understand what ball screw brakes are. A ball screw brake is a mechanical device designed to halt or hold the motion of a ball screw assembly. Ball screws are used in numerous applications, including CNC machines, robotics, and aerospace systems, where precise linear motion is crucial. Ball screw brakes play a pivotal role in ensuring that this motion is controlled and secure.

Importance of High Torque in Ball Screw Brakes

One of the primary considerations when selecting a ball screw brake is its torque capacity. Torque is the rotational force required to stop or hold the ball screw in place. High torque is essential to ensure that the brake can effectively stop the motion, especially in applications where heavy loads or high speeds are involved. 

The ability of a ball screw brake to provide high torque is essential for preventing undesired movement, ensuring safety, and maintaining precision. In situations where sudden stops or rapid deceleration are necessary, high torque capabilities become even more critical.

The Role of Spring Engagement

ball screw brakes image1

(Source: Mach III Motion Control Solutions)

Many ball screw brakes use a spring engagement mechanism to achieve high torque. This design allows the brake to engage automatically when power is lost or intentionally cut off. Spring engagement ensures that the ball screw remains stationary in case of an emergency or power failure, preventing costly accidents and potential damage to machinery.

Safety Measures: Preventing Back Driving

One of the safety features associated with ball screw brakes is their ability to prevent back driving. Back driving occurs when an external force tries to rotate the ball screw in the opposite direction of its normal operation. Ball screw brakes are designed to resist back driving, maintaining the position of the ball screw and the machinery it controls. 

This feature is particularly crucial in applications where safety is paramount, such as medical devices, automotive manufacturing, and aerospace equipment. Preventing backdriving ensures that critical processes remain stable and reliable.

Precision Holding and Low Inertia

In addition to their safety features, ball screw brakes are known for their precision holding capabilities. They can maintain the position of the ball screw with remarkable accuracy, making them indispensable in applications that require precise positioning, such as 3D printing and semiconductor manufacturing. 

Moreover, ball screw brakes contribute to low inertia in the system. Low inertia means that the system can start, stop, and change direction quickly, which is vital in applications where rapid movements are required, such as pick-and-place robots and CNC machining centres.

Bi-Directional Braking: What You Need to Know

Bi-directional braking is a key characteristic of ball screw brakes. These brakes are designed to provide stopping power in both directions of rotation. This bidirectional capability is essential in applications where the ball screw can move in either direction and needs to be securely held or stopped. 

In scenarios where precision is critical, the ability to stop or hold the ball screw in either direction ensures that the machinery operates flawlessly and without compromising safety.

Advantages of Using Ball Screw Brakes

Now that we've explored the functionality and significance of ball screw brakes, let's take a closer look at their advantages:

  • Enhanced Safety: Ball screw brakes are crucial for preventing accidents, ensuring machinery stops in emergencies, and resisting external forces.
  • Precision Control: They provide precise control over the position of the ball screw, making them ideal for applications demanding accuracy.
  • Low Inertia: Their low inertia enables rapid changes in motion direction, contributing to increased efficiency.
  • Bi-Directional: The ability to brake in both directions offers flexibility and reliability in various applications.
  • Reliability: Ball screw brakes are known for their reliability, making them suitable for critical processes.

Applications of Ball Screw Brakes

The versatility and reliability of ball screw brakes make them suitable for a wide range of applications. Here are some areas where these brakes are commonly used:

CNC Machining

In CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines, ball screw brakes are essential for precise positioning and tool changes. They ensure that the machine's axes stop accurately, allowing for intricate and high-quality machining processes.


Robotic systems rely on ball screw brakes to control the movement of robotic arms and end-effectors. This precision ensures that robots perform tasks with accuracy, whether it's assembling products, handling materials, or performing surgeries.


Aerospace applications, such as aircraft landing gear systems and satellite positioning, require reliable ball screw brakes to maintain the desired position and ensure the safety of both the equipment and personnel.

Medical Devices

Precision is paramount in medical devices such as MRI machines, where even the slightest deviation can affect the quality of medical scans. Ball screw brakes help maintain the required positioning accuracy.

Automotive Manufacturing

In automotive manufacturing, ball screw brakes are used in various processes, including welding robots, paint application, and assembly line positioning, ensuring that each step of the manufacturing process is executed with precision.

Semiconductor Manufacturing

Semiconductor manufacturing demands extreme precision in processes like lithography and wafer handling. Ball screw brakes contribute to maintaining the required positioning accuracy in these critical operations.

Electric Hydraulic Brake Systems: The Future

As technology advances, electric hydraulic brake systems are emerging as the future of motion control. These systems combine the benefits of electric and hydraulic technologies to provide high-performance motion control solutions. Electric hydraulic ball screw brakes offer advantages such as rapid response times, energy efficiency, and precise control. With the increasing demand for automation and the need for compact and efficient motion control systems, electric hydraulic brake systems are gaining popularity in various industries. They are particularly suitable for applications where space constraints or environmental considerations make traditional hydraulic systems less practical.

Brands to Consider

When selecting ball screw brakes for your applications, it's crucial to choose from reputable manufacturers known for their quality and reliability. Here are some notable brands to consider:


NSK is a well-established manufacturer of ball screw brakes and other motion control components. They are known for their precision engineering and innovative solutions, making them a trusted choice in various industries.

Industrial Clutch

Industrial Clutch specialises in manufacturing high-quality ball screw brakes designed for demanding industrial applications. Their products are known for their durability and performance.


Nexen offers a wide range of motion control solutions, including ball screw brakes. They are known for their commitment to quality and innovation, making them a reliable choice for precision applications.


Ball screw brakes are critical components in precision motion control systems, ensuring safety, accuracy, and reliability in a wide range of applications. Their ability to provide high torque, resist back driving, and offer bidirectional braking makes them indispensable in industries such as CNC machining, robotics, aerospace, and medical devices. 

As technology continues to advance, electric hydraulic brake systems are emerging as the future of motion control, offering rapid response times and energy-efficient solutions. When selecting ball screw brakes, it's essential to choose reputable manufacturers like Nexen that we stock, to ensure the highest quality and performance. In a world where precision and reliability are paramount, ball screw brakes play a silent yet crucial role in keeping our industries and technology running smoothly.


What is the purpose of a ball screw brake?

A ball screw brake is essential in precision motion control, halting or holding the motion of a ball screw assembly. It ensures accuracy, safety, and reliability in various industrial applications. Whether it's aligning CNC machine tools or preventing unintended robotic arm movement, ball screw brakes are crucial.

Why is high torque important in ball screw brakes?

High torque is critical in ball screw brakes, especially for stopping high-speed or heavy-load applications. It ensures safety and precision. For instance, in industrial robotics handling heavy materials, high torque stops the robot's arm swiftly, preventing accidents.

How do ball screw brakes prevent back driving?

Ball screw brakes resist back driving through mechanical mechanisms like friction plates, locking pins, or spring-loaded clutches. They engage when external forces try to rotate the ball screw opposite to its intended direction, ensuring positioning integrity.

What are some advantages of using ball screw brakes?

Ball screw brakes offer enhanced safety, precision control, low inertia for quick motion changes, bi-directional braking, and overall reliability. They are essential in various industries for precise and secure motion control.

What are electric hydraulic brake systems, and why are they the future of motion control?

Electric hydraulic brake systems combine electric and hydraulic technologies for rapid response times, energy efficiency, and precise control. They're the future, especially where space and sustainability are concerns, such as in automated assembly lines and advanced industrial applications

Explore Our Nexen Ball Screw Brakes Range

After delving into the intricate world of ball screw brakes, it's clear that precision, safety, and high torque capacity are paramount. At Motion Drives & Controls, we offer an extensive range of Nexen Ball Screw Brakes, epitomizing these crucial features. Our brakes boast low backlash for precise holding, high torsional rigidity, and bi-directional braking, ensuring your applications meet the highest standards of efficiency and safety. Whether for CNC machining, robotics, or aerospace systems, our brakes are designed to maintain accuracy and prevent back driving in critical situations. Dive into our selection and discover the perfect match for your industrial needs.