Maintaining Syringe Pump Precision at Lower Cost with Lead Screws

Christopher Nook by Christopher Nook

The use of syringe pumps for medical treatment and chemical/biomedical research has substantially increased in recent years. The most common application for these small infusion pumps is to gradually administer intravenous medications to patients, including pain-killing analgesics, nausea-suppressing anti-emetics, and other drugs.

The Challenge

The use of syringe pumps for medical treatment and chemical/biomedical research has substantially increased in recent years. The most common application for these small infusion pumps is to gradually administer intravenous medications to patients, including pain-killing analgesics, nausea-suppressing antiemetics, and other drugs. Syringe pumps are also used to control the administration of small amounts of fluids as part of laboratory research.

Syringe pump manufacturers face the challenge of maintaining precise control of pump operation so that exact volumes of fluids and medications are dispensed while making the pumps more cost-effective to produce and more compact, quiet, and maintenance-free to deploy. Traditionally, syringe pump manufacturers have utilized ball screws to maintain precise control of linear actuation of the pump plunger. However, the disadvantages of relying on ball screws for this application are that they increase syringe pump costs; tend to be bulky and often require lubrication, which is problematic in medical and laboratory settings.

The Solution

A new generation of precision lead screws and highly engineered plastic nuts are now available for syringe pump applications. Precision lead screws not only offer the same high degree of linear actuation precision afforded by ball screws, they also provide a more customizable solution for syringe pump design and are available at a fraction of the cost of ball screws.

In addition to providing a more cost-effective precision linear actuation solution, a precision lead screw is smaller and offers the lubricant-free operation that is mandatory in clean environments.

Precision lead and acme screws are less bulky than ball screws and fit the compact design profile required for syringe pump development. These screws are available in 4-millimeter to 25.4-millimeter diameters. A lead screw is smaller than a comparable ball screw and offer syringe pump designers the opportunity to utilize stepper motors with more compact footprints.

The need for liquid lubricants for precision lead screws is eliminated by combining a Teflon® coating on the screw with a custom-engineered nut available in bronze or plastic.

By using custom designed, injection molded nuts on its precision lead screws, enables syringe pump manufacturers to use custom screw assemblies, thereby reducing parts from their bills of materials (BOMs). Fewer parts result in manufacturing, assembly, and maintenance cost reductions. Syringe Manufacturers can also take advantage of customized thread profiles and pre-loaded, anti-backlash nuts to further facilitate syringe pump design innovation.

The Helix Advantage

Helix Linear Technologies offers the broadest product line of any lead screw manufacturer, including a full line of rolled, milled, or ground screws and nuts, in standard and customizable sizes. The company provides the flexibility required to service the expanding and evolving customerdriven market for precision linear motion products.

Whether you need Acme, Trapezoidal, or Speedy® (high lead) threads with a precision antibacklash nut, or a state-of-the-art anti-backlash design, delivers the highest quality products of exceptional value to its customers.

Download full Syringe Pump Case Study

This 4 page case study includes more information about how lead screws help maintain syringe pump precision as well as more detailed application cut-aways.

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Additional Reading

Helix is Leading the Pack When it Comes to Lead Screws

Lead Screw Accuracy for Liquid Dispensing and Fluid Management Applications

Lead Screw Automation Flexibility Key to Medical Device Manufacturing

Lead Screws: Small Size Doubles Duty in Medical Device Design