A dovetail slide, or dovetail way slide, is the simplest type of linear slide and has a dovetail shaped or v-shaped channel used to lock the linear rails and allow for movement along the channel. Dovetail slides are fitting for heavy load applications such as CNC machines, shuttle devices, special machines, and work holding devices.
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Applications for Dovetail Slides
Mainly used in the manufacturing and laboratory science industries, dovetail slides are not ideal for high-precision applications. Roller slides are wiser for applications where precision and repeatability are important. In a dovetail slide, the moving component of the system is locked into the v-shaped channel and comes into direct contact with the load. Since the surface area is typically larger than that of a ball bearing linear slide, or a roller slide, dovetail slides are able to hold and move a heavier load. A platform or customized surface can be attached to the system's moving component, allowing for increased transport area. However, a greater force may be required to successfully move the load through the linear system due to the direct contact between the load and the rails. This will result in either higher energy expenditure or a slowed rate of operations. Drivers or motors can be used to power dovetail slides for increased efficiency, or mechanical systems such as belts, bands, and pulley systems can be implemented too.
Dovetail Slide Design
Aluminum, cast iron, delrin, or stainless steel are materials commonly used to construct dovetail slides due to their durability and resistance to wear and tear. Stainless steel is able to withstand high temperatures without changing its form and therefore is an ideal material choice for applications in which high heat may be a factor. There are a number of stock options for dovetail systems. However if required, custom linear slides can be designed and constructed. Dovetail slides and bearings are more resistant to shock than other bearings and while lubricating material can be added to the system, there is less chance of slip-stick occurring in a dovetail system than with other linear slides. The slides are able to provide ease of motion for a long operation process time without requiring maintenance. Over time, chemicals, dust, and dirt may interfere with the process, but dovetail slides tend to be low maintenance and durable. They are also one of the more affordable options for linear slide operations. However, if an application requires precision movement, it is advisable to pay more for a linear slide system that can achieve what is needed.