Screw Pump Design

Uploaded by engineeringdotcom on 07.04.2011

Hello, and welcome to the Product Design Show.
I'm Allison Toepperwein.
And I'm Vince Penman.
This week we're looking at modern implementations
of that classic hydraulic engineering device, the Archimedes screw.
An Archimedes screw has many uses,
but was most commonly used throughout history to move water uphill.
As someone turned the crank manually, the screw blades forced water upwards
along the threading and thereby transport water uphill.
Once the water reaches the top, the screw design releases the water into a trough.
The device itself is a simple design, it is a screw inside a tube,
but this simple device has been refined over time and even today it appears in many modern devices.
To design an effective screw pump device, designers typically have to work with a number
of fixed external constraints including the radius of the screws outer cylinder, the total length
from the bottom to the top and the slope of the screw pump.
And the occasional girly-man villager with wimpy arms that can't pump the water up the hill.
The design challenge then is to come up with the most efficient internal parameters,
including the radius of the screw's inner cylinder, the pitch of each blade, and the number of blades to lift the water.
Optimizing these parameters takes some serious algorithms and some seriously smart engineers.
The design challenges mount when you consider more mundane design constraints
such as cost and manufacturability.
And when you consider moving contents other than water.
Designers have overcome these constraints to insert screw pumps into all sorts of devices, from snow blowers
to truck loaders to materials handling applications.
Heck, I think it'd be awesome to make a screw pump nacho cheese delivery system right into my mouth.
Take that, stupid chocolate fountain.
That's the last time they kick me out of the restaurant for dunking my head in you.
Our last story comes from a group of engineers at Van Beek in the Netherlands.
They design screw conveyors that get installed into modern assembly lines.
They deliver thousands of screw conveyors, each year that move everything from food
and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and synthetics, and all of these machines are made to order.
That means that every one of the design constraints we talked
about earlier has to be optimized for each machine.
Worse yet, the assembly line dimensions, the given constraints, often change
after the screw conveyor design has been started.
To meet this challenge, the Van Beek engineering team
uses Creo Elements Direct Modeling software
to make multiple fast design iterations to produce top quality screw conveyors as fast as possible.
It's a lot easier and a lot more accurate than doing math.
You can try Creo Elements Direct, the same software that engineers use
at Van Beek with a free for lifetime version from PTC, just go to
That's it for the product design show this week.
If you like the show, please give it a like on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, or give us a rating on iTunes.
We'll see you next week when we take on the design challenge of making beautiful bottles.