Motion Control – Case Study – Ball Screws used in Wearable Pumps!

Motion Control – Case Study: Wearable Pumps!

motion control ball screw application


motion control productsThe Next Generation of Intelligent Balloon Catheters Depend on Novel Designs of Ball Screw Driven Pumps

Woburn, MA –Motion Control Components Ball Screws – Case Study –


In the realm of cardiovascular assist devices, recent developments have focused on fully implantable pumps. Among the first was HeartMate, quickly followed by Impella and HeartWare. Fully implantable devices are very expensive to develop and produce. Plus they are limited to patients who can tolerate the highly invasive procedure.

A key development in cardiovascular assist devices would be to combine the less-invasive approach of implantable balloons and external pumps with the high portability and reliability of fully implantable systems. This advance would allow the treatment of a much wider range of patients and conditions. A Steinmeyer customer set out to develop an innovative pump to achieve this advance in an intra-aortic system



One of the main technical challenges to this approach is designing a wearable pump that can carefully control the balloon’s pressurization. The pump must meet a demanding combination of performance requirements, including:

  • Precise control of pressure
  • Reversible pressurization
  • Light weight
  • Compact size
  • Quiet operation
  • Continuous performance for at least one year

Meeting these requirements was a significant challenge for their engineers. They built and tested early prototypes using traditional designs such as diaphragm pumps. But this approach required separate chambers for positive and negative pressure. The resulting systems were far too large and heavy. So they were forced to find a new approach.

motion control ball screw medical application


Their main innovation was selecting a precision ground ball screw as the drive mechanism and pairing it with a custom engineered metal bellows as the pressure chamber. Ball screws deliver exceptional thrust density while enabling high linear acceleration in both the forward and reverse directions. Surrounded by the bellows, this results in an extremely compact and quiet design. Ball screws are also known for their high efficiency (>90%), smooth operation, and long life. Their efficiency enables the use of small motors and low power consumption, which in turn reduce the size and weight of the entire system.

The engineers turned to Steinmeyer to ensure the smoothest running, highest quality ball screw. And they also knew that Steinmeyer was extremely well-qualified to provide technical support through all stages of development. Their system is meeting all of its design requirements and will soon enter late stage clinical trials.

motion control application medical

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motion control case study wearable pumps


There is an emerging trend in the development of balloon catheters to serve cardiovascular applications. Intelligent balloon catheters may one day be key to innovation. These devices will use flexible sensors and electronics along the catheter for data collection and therapeutics. They will also incorporate balloons to apply mechanical force in the heart and arteries. Ball screw driven pumps will support these future systems as well.

About Steinmeyer

Steinmeyer is the world’s longest continuously-operating manufacturer of commercial ball screws. In the realm of linear motion control, our company has become synonymous with precision, innovation, and exacting standards of quality.

Steinmeyer’s extensive product line is used widely in drive systems for industrial machines as well as precision positioning in optical instruments, medical devices, and other mechatronic applications.

Contact Steinmeyer for further information on their extensive product portfolio:



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Other Interesting Case Studies from Steinmeyer:

For the Case Study “Custom Linear Modules for Lithography Masking” CLICK HERE

For the Case Study “Pipetting” CLICK HERE

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