Ball screw standards: What you need to know about DIN, ISO, and JIS

If you’re involved in ball screw sizing or selection, you’ve probably noticed that there are several different standards that govern various aspects of ball screw design, from lead accuracy and load capacity to ball nut tolerances and rigidity. Fortunately, in many cases, these standards are in harmony and provide the same (or virtually equivalent) specifications.

But in the areas where the standards diverge and the specifications differ, it can be difficult for engineers and designers to compare products and choose the ball screw that meets their design and application requirements. So until the industry comes together and adopts a single, international standard, here’s a guide to the similarities and differences between the most commonly used ball screw standards: DIN, ISO, and JIS.

DIN (German Institute for Standardization)

ISO (International Organization for Standardization)

Image credit: Bosch Rexroth

Originally two separate standards, DIN 69051 and ISO 3408, the DIN and ISO ball screw standards have been mostly combined and harmonized. The harmonized standard is referred to as “DIN ISO 3408,” which means the ISO standard has been adopted directly as the DIN standard. The DIN ISO 3408 standard consists of four sections:

DIN ISO 3408-1:  Ball screws – Part 1: Vocabulary and designation

DIN ISO 3408-3:  Ball screws – Part 3: Acceptance conditions and acceptance tests

DIN ISO 3408-4:  Ball screws – Part 4: Static axial rigidity

DIN ISO 3408-5:  Ball screws – Part 5: Static and dynamic axial load ratings and operational life

Notice that Part 2 of the ISO standard has not been adopted as a DIN standard, and each retains its own designation — i.e. DIN 69051 Part 2 and ISO 3408-2. In both standards, Part 2 defines nominal diameters and leads, so the variation between ISO and DIN means they allow for some differences in the available diameter and lead combinations (d0 x P).

DIN 69051-2:  Machine tools; ball screws; nominal diameters and nominal leads (1989)

ISO 3408-2:  Ball screws: Nominal diameters and nominal leads – Metric series (1991)

JIS (Japanese International Standard)

Another common ball screw standard is JIS B1192-1997. (Note that JIS B1191 is sometimes referenced, but it was replaced by JIS B1192 in 1997.) JIS B1192-1997 is similar to DIN ISO 3408, but there are some noticeable differences.

First, there are variations between the DIN ISO standard and JIS B1192-1997 regarding the travel deviation specifications ν300 and ν2π. In addition, JIS uses accuracy class designations of “C” for positioning screws and “Ct” for transport screws, whereas the DIN ISO standard uses the designations “P” for positioning screws and “T” for transport screws. The JIS B1192-1997 standard also includes several accuracy classes that DIN ISO 3408 doesn’t address.

Other variations between JIS B1192-1997 and DIN ISO 3408 can be found in the dimensional tolerances and run-out specifications of the screw and nut, and in the permissible torque fluctuations of preloaded nuts. But these variations typically occur only in certain instances within a given specification — not across the entire range of products. For example, JIS B1192-1997 and DIN ISO 3408 specify different ν300 travel deviation limits for screws in accuracy classes 3 and 5, but they provide the same ν300 specification for class 7 screws.

The JIS B1192-1997 and DIN ISO 3408 ball screw standards provide different permissible travel deviation values for some (but not all) accuracy classes. Image credit: NSK

If you examine the specifications of a ball screw manufactured to the JIS B1192-1997 standard, you’ll likely notice that there are exceptions in the specifications, where the manufacturer has deviated from the JIS standard. In many cases, the manufacturer’s deviation provides a better tolerance or more stringent acceptance criteria. But it is a deviation from the standard, nonetheless.

One ball screw expert explained it this way: “Where the DIN ISO 3408 standard is followed rigidly, manufacturers seem to take the JIS B1192-1997 standard as more of a suggestion.” 

The JIS B1192 standard that we’ve discussed so far is the 1997 publication (JIS B1192-1997), but it isn’t the most recent version.

JIS B1192 was updated in 2013 (JIS B1192-2013) to conform with the ISO 3408-1, -2, and -3 specifications for ball screw definitions, nominal diameters and leads, and acceptance conditions. Another update was just published in August 2018 (JIS B1192-2018), putting the JIS standard in harmonization with the ISO 3408-4 and -5 specifications for axial rigidity and static and dynamic load ratings.

Manufacturers of JIS ball screws still cite the 1997 version (JIS B1192-1997) in their specifications, but they will likely begin citing the more recent 2013 version (or even the 2018 version) in the not-too-distant future, as they comb through the changes and make adjustments to specifications to be compliant with ISO 3408.

Because the variances between JIS B1192-1997 and ISO 3408 are generally quite small, the switch from the 1997 version to either of the updated JIS standards isn’t likely to be a major disruption to customers who use JIS-standard ball screws. The most noticeable difference will probably be in the form of dynamic load capacity changes.

In a sign that the ball screw industry is moving toward a single, international standard, manufactures who historically offered only JIS or only DIN ISO ball screws are beginning to add products that are compliant with the other standard. Image credit: NSK

As one manufacturer of JIS-standard ball screws pointed out, the method for determining dynamic load capacity is the most significant difference between ISO 3408 and JIS B1192-1997. So it’s likely that the published dynamic load capacities of JIS-standard ball screws will undergo a change as manufacturers re-rate their products to meet the ISO specification.

And while the changes in load ratings may catch some users off guard or cause a bit of confusion for a short time, as another ball screw manufacturer pointed out, “The ball screw standards were destined to come together eventually. Competition is hard enough, and the industry needs a single, international standard.”

Thank you to Michael Fuchsberger and Jason Winburn of Bosch Rexroth and to Dan Williams of NSK, for helping me understand the recent changes to the JIS B1192 standard and the potential implications for the ball screw industry.  

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