Linear guides provide safe and free motion of machine elements in one direction. Apart from precisely holding the component in question on its predetermined path, the guide also minimizes friction and thus ensures high durability for each and every part that is in use. As in rolling-element bearings, most of these components employ balls, rollers, needles or cylinders inside their casings in order to bear loads. Depending on the desired purpose, there is a great number of precise operating guides available that will ensure frictionless motion on one axis for any kind of platform attached to it.
A variety of types and series
A minimum amount of friction is paramount for operating a multitude of tools, machines and other parts. A linear guide helps to move parts freely, thus ensuring a speedy and smooth motion of the platform. This can be done in a variety of ways with different series of this highly developed component, which comes in all sizes and weights. Using the principle of rolling-element bearings, manufacturers produce linear guides as components for positioning systems. These systems are parts of common everyday products as well as high-precision technology. In order to provide a guide system for every requirement, the following types are commonly used:
Ball and roller bearings
Depending on the mechanism that is supposed to be employed, some components employ cages to hold the balls or rollers, while some don't. The greatest advantage of inexpensive rolling-element bearings is the ability to sustain the heaviest load capacities while operating efficiently and almost never wearing out. Manufacturers of linear guides use these advantages to construct systems which operate with the highest precision while necessitating only a minimum of maintenance due to their robust characteristics.
What kinds of applications use linear guides?
A guide is a crucial part in any machine that requires any parts to travel a certain distance while maintaining their radial or axial position. Since free-moving components inside a three-dimensional space may move along three axes, there are six different directions the part can travel in.
A fixed guide or rail restricts the part in question to only one axis on which it can move or translate. The possibilities for application are almost limitless, as the following List proves:
Ball and roller bearings:
Inexpensive, long service life - Drawer slides, microscope stages
High accuracy, no wear, long service life, maintenance-free - Microdispensing applications, nanopositioning tables
Highest load capacity, long service life, inexpensive - Lathe tables, general machine shop applications
As shown in the table above, application possibilities include everyday products as well as highly developed technology used in medical research, astronomy and machine shops. Non-driven tables can just as easily be equipped with linear guides as the driven kind. As is the case with every rolling-element bearing, only a minimum amount of lubrication, which is applied during the manufacturing process, is needed to keep the parts operating for their whole service life.
Suppliers provide linear guides made out of aluminium, but also out of more sturdy materials like steel. They vary in size, weight and series. Hence, required linear guides are always available for every application needed.