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3 Tips for Selecting a Linear Slide Table

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3 Tips For Selecting a Linear Slide Table Whether you are looking to design your own linear slide table assembly, or purchase a ready-made, off-the-shelf system, there are a huge number of options available on the market today. Component choices, such as plastic or bronze lead screw nuts, ball screws, and belt-drives can make selecting the best slide table system difficult. In this brief tech talk, review 3 quick tips to help make your selection process easier. Tip #1 - Plastic or metal linear bearings? Tribologically optimized plastic materials can be used in a wide range of applications, often outperforming metal, while offering lower purchasing costs, lower weights, and reducing the need for maintenance. Plastic options are excellent in dirty applications, as well as laboratory settings, as their ability to self-lubricate reduces the risk of contamination in clean environments, lowers the risk of bearing seizure due to dirt and dust build-up. Ball bearing linear guides, while typically more expensive and requiring lubrication, may be required for applications needing micron-level precision. When using plastic bearings in linear applications, it is important to use proper spacing between bearings along the axis of travel. The typical rule of thumb is what we call the "2-to-1 Rule" (visualized left), which states that the load's center of gravity and the drive-force must be ≤ 2x the distance between the bearings. If this rule is not followed, your system is likely to chatter or bind, which is especially true with belt-driven systems which often have high speeds and accelerations, as this principle is a result of friction and inertia. To be sure you're abiding by this rule, you can implement a longer plate or an extra carriage into your linear slide table. If your application is slower-moving, or handling static loads, this 2-to-1 rule is not as crucial. You may need to use ball bearings or lubricated bearings in applications with very high cantilevers, or when the linear positioning tolerance needs to be less than ±0.008 inches (0.2 mm). Tip #2 - Lead screw or belt drive? Typically, actuators using lead screws are more ideal for lower cycle, or positioning applications. For longer strokes belt-driven systems are more ideal. Lead screw systems also can generate higher forces than other types of actuators, so moving heavy loads at low speeds is possible. There are two types of lead screw tables offered by igus ® to handle axial forces: ones that use plain bearings, and ones using ball bearings. The plain bearing versions are limited to applications that are under 100rpm, making them better suited for applications that use a hand wheel or thumbscrew to position the system. Actuators using ball bearings can run up to 1500 rpm, making them ideal for Learn more at

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