Image Credit: Aerotech, Inc. | Del-Tron Precision, Inc. | H2W Technologies
Multi-axis Positioning Systems make use of linear, rotary and goniometric stages, slides and drives in various combinations to create standard and custom positioning systems. Linear stages are driven slides that provide precise, controlled positioning along a linear axis. Rotary stages have tables or shafts that may be rotated to any angular position. Goniometric stages use an external axis of rotation. Instead of rotating around the center of the stage, these stages rotate around a point in space. Multi-axis positioning systems that incorporate combinations of linear, rotary and goniometric stages work in any orientation and are capable of six degrees of freedom (DOF): heave, sway, surge, pitch, yaw, and roll.
Video Credit: Richard Yurick
How to Select
Selecting multi-axis positioning systems requires an analysis of product specifications and features. Important specifications include maximum travel, angular deviation, load capacity, optical axis height, materials of construction, bearing type, and actuator style. Maximum travel is specified by axis (X, Y, and Z) and measured in inches (in.) or millimeters (mm). Load capacity is usually measured in pounds (lbs.) or kilograms (kg). Most multi-axis positioning systems are made of stainless steel and use crossed roller bearings that are made of hardened steel. As a rule, larger diameter bearings increase the stiffness of a linear, rotary, or goniometric stage. Actuators for multi-axis positioning systems are designed for left-handed or right-handed operators and can be mounted via pre-drilled holes with English or metric threads. Manual, motorized, and electrostrictive actuators are commonly available.
There are many applications for multi-axis positioning systems. Some products are designed for the alignment and tracking of lasers and electron beams. Others are used in surgical or industrial robots, robotic systems, or for satellite testing. Applications for multi-axis positioning systems include micromachining, micromanipulation, X-ray diffraction measurement, semiconductor processing, and machine tool control. Products are also used for fiber optic alignment and other demanding positioning applications.