Article | July 30, 2021

Miniature Air Bearing Linear Slide With Voice Coil Linear Motor

High-end automation, manufacturing, metrology, and test applications rely on precision motion control systems. In 24/7 operations, maintenance-free positioning systems gather additional bonus points and when a motion principle also is devoid of particle generation, people who design products in cleanrooms, such as optical and semiconductor process and test engineers, are happy, too. 

Frictionless Means Unlimited Life

A good place to start is the combination is an air bearing slide with a frictionless, non-contact, direct-drive linear motor and fine pitch non-contact linear optical encoder – the right ingredients for an unlimited service life. 

Air bearing slides provide the highest level of performance in terms of precision, straightness, flatness, and position repeatability. In an air bearing slide, the table is floating on a thin film of air, only a few micrometers thick. The high precision is made possible by a combination of the very precise grinding and coating processes of the planar guideways the moving table floats upon and the so-called surface averaging effect. This principle allows for higher precision than the best mechanical linear guides, such as high-end crossed roller bearings or circulating ball bearings.  And unlike these mechanical bearings, air bearing slides don’t need lubricants, because their surfaces don’t make mechanical contact, which is also why they don’t generate particles.

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