Linear slides are devices that provide a guide for other elements such as machining tools, machining heads and assembly units, etc. These slides are used on machine tools, transfer lines, heat treatment equipment, medical equipment, assembly lines, measuring instruments, etc. These items are basically simple linear motion devices that consist of a stationary base and a moving carriage. Linear slides are designed to use various types of bearings and guide mechanisms.
Depending on the application, you can select the following types of linear slides: ball slide, dovetail slide, air bearing, crossed roller, linear bushing, linear motion guide, hardened way slide, needle roller, plain bearing or sleeve bushing.
- Ball slides use a bearing system composed of two rows of balls on both sides of the base.
- Dovetails have tenon and mortise functionality and are largely used in machine tools where the cutting force tends to lift the slide up.
- Air bearings rest on a thin cushion of air and have almost no friction, but they must be used in an AC controlled environment and in clean areas.
- Crossed rollers are enclosed in rails with machined, V-shaped grooves whch are ground at 90 degrees.
- Linear bushing systems house recirculating linear bushings along with a shaft, a shaft support, and a carriage.
- Linear motion guides or square rail linear bearings consist of a guide rail and a carriage unit.
- Hardened way slides use heat-treated steel to reduce the wear and tear.
- Needle rollers or M/V ways are enclosed in cages that are mounted on matching machined rails. One roller is machined in an M-shape and the other roller is machined in a V-shape.
- To reduce friction and ensure reputability, different types of bearings like needle, roller, taper roller, ball, etc. are used.
There are many different drive types and mechanisms which may be used to provide motion to the linear slides. There are manually powered devices such as hand wheels and cranks. Some types of motorized power are: AC motor, Brushless servo, DC servo, stepper motor, linear motor, hydraulic motor, etc. Linear slides that have motor mounts do not have an integral motor, but they come equipped with hardware for mounting a user-supplied motor. Drive mechanisms for linear slides use ball screws, ground screws, lead or acme screws, belts and bands, cables and pulleys, micrometers, or racks and pinions. Devices that don’t have integral drive mechanisms are also available. While selecting, you must specify the dynamic load carrying capacity, positioning accuracy, repeatability, maximum linear speed, etc.
When searching for linear slides you should analyze the axis configuration and travel specifications as there are several options. Important travel specifications for linear slides include X-axis linear travel, Y-axis linear travel, and Z-axis linear travel.