What is Jackscrew? | How does a Jackscrew work?

The jackscrew or screw jack is one of the most common types of linear motion actuators used to lift or move loads. They can also be used for any application that requires linear motion or driven or dragged along the linear axis. Lead, ball, and cylindrical screws are simple mechanical actuators.

What is a Jackscrew?

A jack that works when turning a spindle is called a jackscrew or screw jack. It is often used for lifting moderate and heavy objects, for example, vehicles; aircraft horizontal stabilizers to raise and lower; and as adaptable heavy loads, such as house foundations.

The most common jackscrew type is the traditional hand type, which is worked by applying force to the lever to lift the screw off the base of the unit, lifting the load, or lowering it. AC or DC motors are some familiar ways to drive jackscrew.

Construction of Jackscrew

 Jacks consist of a sturdy vertical screw mounted to the top, which is screwed through holes into a fixed frame with a wide base resting on the ground.

The swivel collar has a hole in the top of the screw on which the metal bar handle can be installed. By turning the handle clockwise, the screw moves further away from the base, leaning against the load surface to lift the load. To withstand heavy loads, screws generally have sharp threads.

Working of Jackscrew

A screw jack is a gearbox assembly (either worm gear or bevel gear) and a transmission product (roller screw, ball screw, or lead screw) which, through the use of a motor, is used to convert rotary into linear motion. They can be used to push, pull, tension, lock, unlock, tilt, pivot, roll, slide and lift or lower loads, anything from a few kilos to thousands of tonnes.


Screw jacks are essential components of automated machines. Safety and legislative concerns encourage automation of the handling and lifting of heavy loads, especially in regions where workplace and health and safety legislation have been developed.

Trend to electro-mechanical actuation from hydraulic actuation

Jackscrews are often used in heavy-duty applications. Hydraulic technologies are generally used in heavy loads. But the power of hydraulic efficiency is less than that of the electro-mechanical screw head. When fluid flows at constant pressure, hydraulic systems waste energy doing all the work necessary for the hydraulic position.

Hydraulic cylinders or slugs require constant pressure to hold their position when the load is in place. On the other hand, electric spindle motors used for forklifts only consume energy when they move the load to the desired location.

Types of Jackscrews

The Jackscrew has the following types:

1) Translating Screw Jack

When the gear is rotated, the worm acts directly on the lead screw, and the lead screw moves linearly. If the lead screw end is not fixed, the lead screw is easy to rotate due to the friction among the threads.

2) Translating Key Screw Jack

As mentioned above, the lead screw is fixed, so it cannot rotate. This is necessary if the lead screw is not attached to the end of the load. Coded and uncoded screw transmission are often used in applications where many screws are connected to the same load.

3) Rotating Screw Jack System

4x screw jack. Translate the lifting nuts. Clearance under the lower mounting level of the jack body is not required. When designing the lifting plate, however, it must be taken into account that the plate can move over or past the lifting screw.

The translation speed of a screw jack is influenced by the number of times the screw spindle is started.

With single start screw jacks, the system is normally self-locking because the friction angle of the threads is greater than the helix angle. i.e., an axial force exerted on the screw does not result in rotation. This is not the case with a multi-start screw because the angle of friction may be less than the angle of lead.

4) Translating Screw Jack System

6x ratio screw jack system. The lead screw connects to the normal load end. The clearance is required for the mounting body at the bottom of the screw jack to adjust the screw cover.

5) Rotating Screw Jack

The lead screw is mounted on the worm gear; then, the worm gear is engaged by the rotation of the lead screw so that when the load is placed in the nut, the nut slides with the lead screw.

Advantages of electro-mechanical over hydraulic Jackscrew

  1. Work safety improvements, in case of power failure, the self-locking screwdriver can be hardened.
  2. The more energy-efficient mechanisms
  3. Machines with higher operating accuracy
  4. They require less maintenance
  5. They require less intervention to process frames
  6. Increased driving range with variable positioning
  7. Intense and regular application of force
  8. Cleaner machinery

Advantages of Jackscrew

One advantage of jackscrews over other types of jacks is that they are self-locking, which means that no matter how hard the screw rotates, it stays where it stops and doesn’t slip back. This makes the hydraulic cylinders safer, for example, by allowing them to roll back under load if the force of the hydraulic actuator is accidentally released.

Disadvantages of Jackscrew

  1. The lifting capacity of the Screw jack is limited.
  2. Increase in the load as the friction of the threads increases.
  3. Fine threading will increase the usefulness of the screw but will also reduce the working speed.
  4. Using the longer handle will quickly reach the point where the inside end of the handle is bent.
  5. Jacks are now largely replaced by hydraulic jacks.

Application of Jackscrew

The large area of sliding contact between the screw threads means jackscrews have high friction and low efficiency as power transmission linkages, around 30%–50%. So, they are not often used for continuous high-power transmission but more often in intermittent positioning applications.

In heavy-duty applications, such as screw jacks, a square thread or buttress thread is used because it has the lowest friction and wears.

FAQ Section

What Is a Screw Jack?

A jackscrew, or screw jack, is a type of jack that is operated by turning a leadscrew. It is commonly used to lift moderately and heavy weights, such as vehicles; to raise and lower the horizontal stabilizers of aircraft; and as adjustable supports for heavy loads, such as the foundations of houses.

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