Image Credit: Isotech, Inc. | NSK Precision America, Inc. / NPA | Schneeberger Inc.   Linear guides and rails provide a smooth, precision, guiding surface on which the rolling element of a linear bearing rides. They are an integral part of linear bearings, typically ordered separately from the rolling element component.
 
Linear bearings are available in many configurations, with differing attributes such as stiffness, smoothness...
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Q & A on Linear Guides and Rails

We asked our users for their input on Linear Guides and Rails. Here are the results of 63 users familiar with Linear Guides and Rails.

Who Took Our Poll? | Design Trends | Applications and Use | Features | Buying Advice

Who Took Our Poll?Top

Design TrendsTop

Q:
What new technologies are influencing linear guide and rail design?
10 answers
Answers:
I think as the manufacturing tolerances increase due to R&D on new CNC centers we will see an increase in greater precision being achieved. I'm not aware of any projects being undertaken at the moment to radically improve on linear guide and rail design, but you know what they say. ( when you least expect it! )
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
Solid bolt down rails are stronger than Thompson shafting.
~Tom, Tool & Die Maker, Chatham, Canada
Increases in speed of stepper and servo control systems.
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA
Manipulators, guiding systems, pushers, brakes etc...
~Marius Palisaitis, Design Engineer, Palanga, Lithuania
Polymer tech Extrusion methods Optical alignment
~Mark B, Chief Technical Officer, Tuggerah Business Park, Australia
Servo Drive system, Linear drive, etc
~Engineering, Design, Bogor, Indonesia
Impedance and electrochemical noise
~FAWAZ AGIZAH, Quality Control, CAIRO, EGYPT
Linear motors, linear actuators
~Mukund K, CEO, Pune, India
Motion control software
~Manufacturing, Chennai, India
SHS SERIES
~Engineering, Design, Shelby, MI

Q:
From your perspective, which companies are creating the most innovative linear guide and rail?
10 answers
Answers:
In my opinion I would have to say that THK Japan would be one of the front runners in the Linear game closely followed by Bosch-Rexroth from Germany. There are some Taiwanese manufacturers that are producing some very good quality linear guides and rails at a cost effective price and I have used them with great success and have had great reviews from my customers who use these cheaper products.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
Schaeffler group (INA) Nippon Thompson Co. Ltd Rexroth(Bosch)
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
SKF, Rexroth (Bosh group), Festo, Igus, Flexlink
~Marius Palisaitis, Design Engineer, Palanga, Lithuania
General Electric and Nalco
~FAWAZ AGIZAH, Quality Control, CAIRO, EGYPT
THK, Bosch Rexroth
~Engineering, Design, Bogor, Indonesia
THK, Hepco
~Mukund K, CEO, Pune, India
M plus
~Engineering, Other, Anjar, India
Igus
~Petr Kulhanek, Purchaser, Trelleborg, Sweden
THK
~Engineering, Design, Shelby, MI
THK
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA

Applications and UseTop

Q:
What are some of the applications you have used linear guides and rails for?
15 answers
Answers:
Digital professional scanners Escoscan ( german "STAR" elements) Assembling machinery for Frtz Hansen chairs( Schäffler group elements (INA) Assembling machinery for wire connectors LK-NES( Schäffler group elements (INA) Toolroom drivers for heavy loads (Tobias Jensen BallTik) Palleting machinery for Tuborg
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
From simple replacement in multi axis CNC machines, to design and selection for purpose built machines e.g. automated oil and gas pipeline welding machines.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
1. Linear guide on the carriages for cutters 2. Rails on some manufacturing machinery 3. Small rail used on measuring tools 4. etc
~Engineering, Design, Bogor, Indonesia
Slides for various purpose e.g fixture movement, gear head movement, reciprocator slide etc.
~Mukund K, CEO, Pune, India
CNC milling machines Engraving machines Circuit board routing machines CNC laser cutters
~Mark B, Chief Technical Officer, Tuggerah Business Park, Australia
Machine tools refurbishing, special purpose machines linear motion guides etc.
~Engineering, Process/Production, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
CNC routing machines. X-Y tables. Special purpose machine manufacture
~Manufacturing, Hamilton, New Zealand
As a support for hydraulics cylinders
~Petr Kulhanek, Purchaser, Trelleborg, Sweden
Flexible Pu Foam cutting machines
~Manufacturing, Chennai, India
Support positioning applications.
~Marius Palisaitis, Design Engineer, Palanga, Lithuania
Automobile battery assembly
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA
Corrosion and production
~FAWAZ AGIZAH, Quality Control, CAIRO, EGYPT
Weld cells, CNC rails
~Tom, Tool & Die Maker, Chatham, Canada
GUIDING PIVOT LIFTER
~Engineering, Design, Shelby, MI
Automation
~Engineering, Process/Production, Singapore, Singapore

Q:
Please share with us any “non-standard” applications that linear guides and rails have been used for.
5 answers
Answers:
I have designed and used linear rails and guides for a custom built kitchen slideout in a 40 foot touring coach. I have also used THK curved linear rail and mounted it on the rear of an oven in a luxury yacht to keep it level in rough seas.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
Using linear drive which is provided with linear guide/rail inside to drive traverse of HVOF coating equipment.
~Engineering, Design, Bogor, Indonesia
Bent guide for grinding load bending on rollers for at great steel mill.
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
Corrosion resistant applications
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA
Standard option is obligatory
~FAWAZ AGIZAH, Quality Control, CAIRO, EGYPT

Q:
Do you know of any disastrous mistakes that occurred due to the incorrect usage of linear guides and rails?
5 answers
Answers:
I had a customer go against my advice and chose ( also purchased elsewhere as I refused to sell him the smaller size ) linear rail and guides 2 sizes smaller than I had recommended. Consequently the guides failed and he destroyed the $ 25k laser system that was mounted on that axis, all so he could save around $ 1000, so if you do consult an expert in linear products, please listen to what they have to say.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
If Two rails are mounted without (see question 9) care for master/slave they can give twisting movements of the moving platform, problems with wear etc.
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
Unreliable motion due to yaw action, when the carriage length, rail spacing and clearance factors are imbalanced
~Mark B, Chief Technical Officer, Tuggerah Business Park, Australia
When using LBBR type bearing on very long motions the pivot railing will be surely whittled down very quickly.
~Marius Palisaitis, Design Engineer, Palanga, Lithuania
Don't try to run the blocks across breaks in the rails. Design around the joint, not through it.
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA

FeaturesTop

Q:
What would your design or feature "wish list" be for this product?
9 answers
Answers:
To be able to greatly increase moment load capacity in all directions equally without having to increase the size of rail and block.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
Common standards, so rails which have a damage could be changed with available brands. Common classes. From coarse til precision.
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
Lower price, increased capacity, standardization and interchangeability of blocks and rails in the industry.
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA
Two inline rail connection with smooth carriage transfer.
~Mukund K, CEO, Pune, India
Integration between guidance and drive.
~Mark B, Chief Technical Officer, Tuggerah Business Park, Australia
Dust proof and heat resistant
~Engineering, Design, Bogor, Indonesia
Bullet-proof bearing blocks
~Tom, Tool & Die Maker, Chatham, Canada
Built in position feedback
~Manufacturing, Hamilton, New Zealand
VERY USEFUL
~FAWAZ AGIZAH, Quality Control, CAIRO, EGYPT

Q:
Is there any advice you want to share with users to help them avoid common errors in selection or usage of linear guides and rails?
4 answers
Answers:
Always try to consult an expert in the field. If you don't know what you are doing you may be throwing your money away by selecting the wrong set up for your application.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
In uses where two or more guides work parallel to each other, only one should be master guide and if possible heavier than the supporting(s).
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
Don't be afraid to put extra seals on the blocks. Contamination kills.
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA
Check bending moments carefully
~Mukund K, CEO, Pune, India

Buying AdviceTop

Q:
Do you have any advice for people relative to buying or using linear guides and rails?
5 answers
Answers:
Cheap doesn't always mean bad. There are some good quality cheap linear products available. When in doubt ask an expert for advice specific to your application or requirements.
~Michael G, Linear Motion Design Technician, Perth, Western Australia
The block that looks big enough is way too big. Buy it anyway, oversizing this stuff normally does not hurt and the few extra dollars spent will be worth it in extended life.
~Marketing/Sales, Reading, PA
Do not buy higher precision than the need ask for, but carefully consider the purpose, loads and expected lifetime.
~Bjarke M, Research & Development, 3450 Allerød Denmakr, Denmark
Make them as easy to service as possible.
~Tom, Tool & Die Maker, Chatham, Canada
To read carefully about it.
~FAWAZ AGIZAH, Quality Control, CAIRO, EGYPT


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