Reduce Maintenance Costs with NSK Sealing Options for Ball Screws

By: Zac Knoll, Application Engineer

Proper ball screw lubrication is an essential component to ensure precise operation and long-term product life. Constant lubrication between the ball bearings and raceways are needed for smooth and accurate operation to reduce heat generation and prevent premature ball screw fatigue. Many manufacturers invest in costly centralized lubrication systems to reduce maintenance requirements; however, NSK recommends some alternative solutions.  Special seal designs are available to retain lubrication and reduce the environmental impact.

L1 Seal

L1 seal

The L1 seal is a non-contact seal that is designed to prevent grease from accumulating on the screw shaft surface. No friction loss is generated from the L1 seal due to the non-contact design that prevents direct contact with the shaft. The L1 seal is designed for smaller diameter ball screws (15-32 mm) where a clean operating environment is necessary.  This seal prevents grease splatter in common applications that can be found in semiconductor, food processing and medical industries.

Grease Build-up on Work Station

Ball screws that frequently run to the same end position on the screw shaft have a tendency to push excess grease to this location, which causes the grease to build up over time. At low speeds this can lead to excess grease or dripping that can contaminate the area directly below the ball screw.


Applications using high rotational speeds and high acceleration rates for the ball screw can create grease splatter. As the speed increases, the centrifugal force that is generated by rotating the ball screw shaft causes excess grease to fling off the screw shaft surface and contaminate the surrounding area.  Use of a L1 seal reduces the risk of excess grease when the shaft is in rotation.

A1 Seal

The A1 seal is designed to retain grease for high speed and heavy load applications.  Injection molding and press/clamping machines are common applications that utilize high load ball screws (50 mm diameter and larger) within the machine tool industry.  Grease is pre-packed and retained in the A1 seal eliminating any grease splatter caused by grease build up on the shaft.  Grease build-up is a common disadvantage of centralized lubrication systems. Utilizing an A1 can help your plant reduce costs as well as their environmental impact.

Lubricants with EP additives are commonly used and can withstand high operating pressure.  Use of these additives, however; increases the manufacturing cost of lubricant.  The A1 seal minimizes grease loss which has a positive impact on the overall cost of ownership.  Scheduled maintenance for lubrication intervals can also be decreased by equipping high-load ball screws with an A1 seal option.  The A1 seal is an excellent solution that counteracts premature ball screw failure resulting from insufficient lubrication and minimizes excessive grease discharge that is not optimal for clean-room production environments.

A1 vs L1 Seals

Both A1 and L1 seals help to reduce grease splatter and prevent grease build-up on ball screw shaft’s surface.  Each seal design provides excellent grease retention to reduce maintenance cost and environmental impact.  The L1 seal is optimal for smaller diameter sized ball screws in clean-room environments; whereas the A1 seal was specifically designed for high speed, heavy load applications for larger diameter sized ball screws commonly found in machine tool applications.

Dependent on the industry and application requirements, NSK can work with you to recommend the best solution.  Interested in discussing ball screw seals with one of our Application Engineers, please contact 800-255-4773 or

Continue to get the latest product and industry news related to linear motion at NSK’s Linked-InFacebookTwitter and YouTube channels.



Posted in advanced manufacturing, Ball Screw Manufacturing, Ball Screw Seal Technology, Cost Savings, Factory Automation, Food & Beverage, Increased Efficiency, Linear Motion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

K1™ Lubrication Units = Worry-Free Design for Food & Beverage Manufacturing


The food and beverage industry faces many challenges within automation. The industry must adhere to regulations that increasingly become more stringent and limit the materials that can be used for manufacturing.  Food & beverage manufacturers are expected to not only adhere to stringent regulations but also maintain low operating costs and produce quality products in clean facilities with highly contaminated applications.  Many manufacturers have partnered with NSK to help them meet these expectations.

Food Processing

For an automated system to be successful in the field it must be able to stand up to the environment and itself (i.e. internal friction). Two of the leading causes of bearing failure (linear and/or radial) are improper lubrication and contamination. It can be argued that these two factors alone account for at least 80% of bearing failures. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), more than 6% of the Gross National Product is wasted each year due to poor lubrication.  In order to counter this failure mode, lubrication systems and seals can become complex and costly for maintaining equipment.

Without proper lubrication, the costs of downtime, reduced production, additional man-hours for labor and replacement parts will increase. While manual lubrication points on equipment are generally more cost effective to implement, a manual maintenance schedule also adds several variables including accessibility, safety, and the need for maintenance personnel to be properly trained. Lubrication directly affects the life of bearings so it’s very important that all bearings are being lubed with the correct type and volume required. This is a major investment in personnel if it is to be done manually and has room for a lot of error. The option for an automated lubrication system reduces the cost of labor, ensures the correct volume and interval between lubrication; however, the initial investment cost is significant and you are continually pumping money into the machine via lubricant costs. If the equipment was not installed with a lubrication system then it is an even greater expense. Automated lube systems must be inspected regularly to ensure proper functioning.

Lubricants can also be very sensitive to water and other contaminants. Water can break down grease and diminish the lubricity properties. As many companies have seen from experience, once contamination enters the bearing and is caught in the lubricant, it is only a matter of time before the system fails. NSK recommends the use of seals to keep debris out of environments that operate under high contamination. The K1™ lubricant unit is a patented solution from NSK that provides a long-term, maintenance-free solution available on standard NSK linear guides, ball screws, Monocarrier™ actuators and Robot Module products.  Lubrication is applied to the raceway through direct contact also acting to prevent wear on attached NSK high performance seals.  Bakeries, bottle labeling facilities and even cigar plants have all experienced success with NSK K1™ Lubrication Units.

K1 BS & LG copy

The installation of NSK K1™ Lubrication Units and High Performance Seals combats against the two most common bearing failures: poor lubrication and contamination.  The K1™ unit may reduce lubrication consumption to approximately 0.3% of a normal oil lube system in general does not require maintenance for up to 5 years or 10,000 km of travel!

Lubrication Consumption Savings Calculation:         

Other Lube System: 0.375CC/hr x 16hr/day x 340days/year x 5 years x 4 sliders = 40,800cc


 NSK K1: (with initial grease applied at the factory) 30cc x 4 sliders = 120cc

Other benefits of NSK’s K1™ unit include low particle emission, stable dynamic friction, reduced wear, and no lubrication splatter. On top of all of this, the food grade NSK K1 is compliant to USDA: Category H1 (lubricant permitted for use where there is possibility for incidental food contact).

For more information about NSK innovative precision products, visit our website.  And follow us on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to get the latest product and industry news related to bearings and linear motion solutions for food & beverage applications.

Posted in advanced manufacturing, AIP, Bearing Repair & Maintenance, Factory Automation, Food & Beverage, Increased Efficiency, Linear Motion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NSK responds to MRO demand by offering larger size NSK HPS Series Spherical Roller Bearings

Industrial production increased 0.6 percent in June primarily related to vehicle manufacturing and mining sectors experiencing small increases in production.  June was forecasted to only achieve 0.4 percent increase; therefore, economists are hopeful that second half of 2016 will experience continued, gradual growth in production as long as domestic demand for manufacturing stays consistent.  – Wall Street Journal (07/15/16) Sussman, Anna L.

To continue to grow business in these economic conditions, NSK has dedicated their efforts to MRO (maintenance, repair and operation) business for the aftermarket.  At NSK, we stand by our efforts to provide superior products and after-sales service backed by brand-recognized quality, reliability and performance.




In 2004, NSK introduced the HPS Series to the aftermarket with small size spherical roller bearings.  Over the last 12 years, NSK has expanded its product offering to include angular contact ball bearings, deep groove ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings and other bearing types ranging in a maximum size of 400 mm.  Last month NSK announced that the HPS Series Spherical Roller Bearing size range would be expanded to 400-600 mm size range.

Spherical roller bearings are designed for high load capacity, high speeds and suitable for a wide range of applications.  The HPS Series can withstand working in temperatures up to 200°C, operate at 20% higher speeds and achieve two times more bearing life compared to conventional bearings.

NSK Spherical Roller Bearings Success

A cement mill was using a competing spherical roller bearing in their hammer mill application.  Contamination was entering the bearing block, which ultimately led to bearing failure.  Due to contamination, the bearing needed replaced every 4 months.  As a result, the mill was experiencing excessive change outs, lost production and increased maintenance cost.

NSK recommended changing from a standard labyrinth LER seal to a Taconite Seal TER155OS SAF Pillow Block and HPS Spherical Roller Bearing.  This solution increased bearing performance from merely 4 months to over 2 years and saved the cement mill more than $200,000 annually!

Download your copy of this success story for additional information.

Interested in how NSK’s Asset Improvement Program (AIP) can maximize your bearing performance, contact 888-446-5675 or

Looking for more – follow us on Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!

Posted in advanced manufacturing, AIP, Bearing Case Study, Bearing Repair & Maintenance, Bearings for Industrial Machinery, Company News, Cost Savings, Increased Efficiency, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NSK Celebrates, Remembers and Fights Back by Relaying!

NSK strongly believes in corporate social responsibility, which means ensuring that all of our corporate activities meet the expectations of all our stakeholders and in doing so also helps ensure sustainable development of society and NSK. At each of the NSK facilities across the globe, our employees strive to live and grow together within the local community.

NSK Americas is committed to this philosophy by raising money annually for the American Cancer Society.  In June, our corporate office located in Ann Arbor, MI and our manufacturing facility located in Franklin, IN participated and raised money for their local Relay for Life events.

NSK Franklin Group


Together the contributions were over $36,000!  Leading up to the event, bake sales, food stands, silent auctions and fun activities including a dunk tank, golf outing, motorcycle ride and bean bag toss championship were all coordinated by NSK staff.  Proceeds from all of these activities went toward Relay for Life.


dunk tank            Ann Arbor Relay

Both Ann Arbor and Franklin were recognized as “Top Teams” for Relay for Life of Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti and Relay for Life of Franklin. Thank you to all of our employees who donated their effort, time, and money for this cause.

The American Cancer Society has committed to increase its annual research investment to approximately $240 million by 2021.  The organization currently spends an estimated $120 million per year. The American Cancer Society matched donations dollar-for-dollar throughout the month of June.

Would you like to get involved and volunteer within your own community?  Find out what opportunities are available through the American Cancer Society.  Join the fight against cancer today!


In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight the nation’s biggest health concern cancer.  A year later 340 supporters joined the overnight event.  Since those first steps, the Relay for Life movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer.

For more information about Relay for Life, visit here.

Posted in Company News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

NSK increased Bearing Performance and saved Cement Manufacturer more than $200,000!

Cement SAF Housing

Contamination is a leading cause of bearing failure.  Heavy industrial applications are susceptible to even higher levels of contamination compared to others.  In order to combat against contamination and improve bearing performance, NSK applied AIP to suggest product changes that resulted in over $200,000 in savings.

A hammer mill application was using a competitor’s SAF pillow block and bearing that was failing after only 4 months of operation.  Upon inspection, NSK determined that debris had entered the block.  Excessive change-outs were causing significant financial strain in lost production and maintenance cost.

NSK proposed changing from a standard labyrinth LER seal to a NSK Spherical Roller Bearing inside a SAF Pillow Block (SAF22538) with Taconite Seal TER155OS.


TER-OS Taconite Seal


The TER-OS taconite seals are designed to prevent entry of contaminants in severe service conditions.  Each seal is equipped with a shaft contact spring-loaded oil seal, grease-charged channel, felt shaft seal and O-ring seal in the housing labyrinth to form an impenetrable barrier and provide a tight, yet flexible fit.  The use of this seal protected the spherical roller bearing within the SAF housing to achieve longer life.  The NSK solution provided over 2 years of service life compared to 4 months service life from competitor’s product.

Cost Savings Breakdown:

Competitor Product

Bearing Installation: 5 installs @ $2,981  = $14,905

Maintenance Cost: 40 hrs x 2 personnel @ $150 per hour = $12,000

Lost Production: 500 tons @ $90/ton x 5 failures = $225,000

Total:  $251,905

NSK Solution

Bearing Installation: 1 install @ $2,981  = $2,981

Maintenance Cost: 8 hours x 2 personnel @ 150 per hour  = $2,400

Lost Production: 500 tons @ $90/ton x 1 install  = $45,000

Total:   $50,381

Total Cost Savings:  $201, 524

Visit our website to download this success story and multiple others from different industries.

Looking for more – follow us on Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube!


Posted in AIP, Bearing Case Study, Bearing Repair & Maintenance, Bearing Repair and Maintenance, Bearings for Industrial Machinery, Cost Savings, Increased Efficiency | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NSK Wins “Outstanding Achievement in the field of Environmental Reporting” for its 2015 CSR Report

At NSK, we strive to develop products that not only make the world turn, but encourage innovation for each new era to continue the quest for zero energy loss.  To help our customers, stakeholders and community follow NSK’s progress; a Corporate Responsibility (CSR) Report is published annually.   The 2015 CSR Report details the governance, social and environmental initiatives of our company.

NSK sustainability image

Our 2015 CSR Report was recognized for “Outstanding Achievement in the field of Environmental Reporting” for the second consecutive year by The Environmental Communication Awards.  Launched in 1998, the Japan Ministry of the Environment & Global Environmental Forum established the Environmental Communication Awards recognizing companies’ who communicate and report environmental initiatives.  For more information, download full press release.

Five core principles which include governance, quality assurance, good labor practices, local community and environment are communicated within this report.  The 2015 CSR Report highlights areas in which we can build a stronger business foundation, contribute to the well-being and safety of society, protect global environment and establish our 2026 Vision.

November 8, 2016 marks NSK’s 100th year anniversary.  And while this is cause for celebration, it also demands NSK to look ahead and determine how we will continue to set the future in motion.  To view our entire CSR report, visit our website.

Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to get the latest product and industry news related to bearings, linear motion and steering products required in automotive and industrial machinery applications.


Posted in Company News, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

NSK’s NH Series Linear Guide Increases Throughput for Automotive Supplier

An automotive supplier, who produces aluminum transmission housings, was experiencing issues with its transmission leak testing equipment.  The facility was experiencing a 20% failure rate once its transmission housing reached the test phase.


Aluminum Transmission Housing

When a failure occurred, a new test had to be administered leading to reduced throughput.

It was determined that the bushing system used to transport the transmission housing into the test area was the leading cause of the issue.  The bushing system didn’t deliver precise movement or protect transmission housing against contamination.

NSK proposed that the installation of NH Series Stainless Steel Linear Guides with K1™ Lubrication Units be used in replacement of the bushing system.

NH Series Linear Guides are known for offering maximum precision, high load ratings and smooth linear motion.  This product line is used for a wide variety of applications and has proven success in medical technology, semiconductor, machine tool and automotive industries.

Adding K1™ Lubrication Units provides long-term maintenance-free operation by allowing fresh, continuous oil to flow onto rail during operation.  This innovative solution is ideal for environments where grease replenishment is undesirable or in areas where grease is easily washed away.

New Linear Guides

NH Series Linear Guides with K1 Lubrication Unit


Once NH Series Stainless Steel Linear Guides with K1™ were installed in the facility, the failure rate was reduced to 6% which significantly improved throughput and decreased cost per piece produced.

Cost Savings Breakdown:

Bushing Method

Production Cost: 810 parts per month: $75,632 x 12 months = $907,584

NSK Solution

Production Cost: 940 parts per month: $64,273 x 12 months = $771,276

Total Annual Savings

Total Cost of Bushing Method minus Total Cost of NSK Solution

= $136,308 total cost savings!

If you’d like to receive more information about NSK linear motion products, please contact us or visit our website.  Stay tuned to our Linked-in, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages to get latest NSK news!

To access more NSK success stories and learn about AIP, visit our website.

Posted in AIP, Cost Savings, Factory Automation, Increased Efficiency, Linear Guides, Linear Motion, Linear Motion Case Study, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment