A linear slide rail is a type of bearing mechanism that is designed to move freely in a single direction. A linear slide can be motorized or powered by hand, depending on the application that it is being used for. The bearing slides smoothly along the length of a metal rail, and sometimes the bearing is designed to fit inside the hollow shape of the rail so that it can move freely without being exposed to interfering equipment on the outside. Linear slide rails have many industrial uses, including: food processing, packaging, clean energy applications and medical settings.
Some linear slide rails use ball bearings for movement, but others use roller bearings or magnetic bearings. Ball bearing slides are the most common. Ball bearing linear slide rails are smooth and precise because they operate on a single axis using self-lubricating ball bearings in a linear base. A roller bearing, also known as a rolling element bearing, has an outer ring with several balls within that are contained by a cage-like material. These are economical and long lasting bearings that cause minimal friction. Magnetic bearings use two encased magnets whose polarized forces oppose each other. This creates a smooth and controlled gliding motion.
3D printing is a relatively new development in the technology field that has possible applications in many manufacturing sectors. A 3D printer uses linear slide rails to move the components along the arms of the printer. The printer creates items based on design specifications inputted from a computer, and the arms move back and forth to inject filament in the exact dimensions. The bearings in the linear slide rails allow for smooth, uninterrupted movement. This is absolutely essential for a successful print job. Linear slide rails are also used in conventional household and office paper printers and even large industrial newspaper printers. The bearings slide across an arm that spans the width of the page and conveys the ink cartridges, causing the ink to come into contact with the surface or paper during printing. The bearings on these slides need to be well lubricated when they are used in industrial settings because they are used almost constantly and any malfunction could result in a massive and costly print error.
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