Dovetail slides may also be called dovetail way slides. They are composed of a flaring tenon or saddle (moving member) and a mortise (fixed base) into which the tenon interlocks, yet can slide. Dovetail slides are direct contact systems where the sliding area is considered the bearing system of the dovetail slide. Since the surface contact is so large, dovetail slides are ideal for heavy load applications and industrial uses. However, since dovetail slides have direct contact between the base and saddle rather than indirect contact (as with ball bearing slides and roller bearing slides), the force required to move the saddle is greater than other systems resulting in slower acceleration rates.
Dovetail slides may be driven by a number of different apparatus, which in turn must be powered, or driven by another device. Ball screws, lead or acme screws, belts, bands, cables, pulleys, or micrometers can be used to physically drive dovetail slides. These devices in turn need functional drivers or motors, which can include handwheels or cranks, linear motors (direct drives), AC motors, DC servo motors, brushless servos, and stepper motors. In many cases, dovetail slides can be purchased with this entire drive system in place, although it is possible to purchase only the slide itself, without an integral drive mechanism. These bare slides are often incorporated into existing linear systems as replacements for worn out parts.
When specifying dovetail slides, there are a number of key criteria to understand so that the best available model can be acquired for the needed application. These specifications include the rate and distance of linear movement, the dynamic load carrying capacity, the maximum linear velocity or speed of the positioning carriage required, and the number of leads (inches) per revolution of the screw (for dovetail slides with ball, lead or Acme screws).
Additionally, some dovetail slides offer brakes, locks, and clutches (or combinations thereof) to slow, stop or seamlessly change the speed of the slide. These features are not offered with all dovetails slides.
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Ball slides are simple linear motion devices that provide smooth linear motion, accurately controlled by the rotation of the drive mechanism.
Crossed Roller Slides
Crossed roller slides are simple linear motion devices that consist of a stationary base and a moving carriage. The rollers are crossed at a 90° angle in an alternating fashion and are enclosed in the rails, which have a machined V-shaped groove to support the rollers.
Linear Slides and Linear Stages
Linear slides are simple linear motion devices composed of a stationary base and a moving carriage. Linear stages are slides with a drive mechanism that provide controlled, precise positioning along a linear axis.