Linear Motion Guides
A linear motion guide moves a mechanism along a metal rail using bearings that are fitted to the component and spin laterally to create a smooth motion. This type of movement is useful in a wide variety of industrial applications where heavy objects need to be transported efficiently between locations. Usually linear motion guides are installed between machines or in areas where goods are constantly being moved. A linear motion guide can be powered by a motor or operated by hand to create movement. Various types of bearings or rolling parts can be used inside the linear motion guide to allow it to roll smoothly along the guide rail.
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Types of Linear Motion Guides
The different linear motion guide bearings types include ball bearings, roller bearings, and magnetic bearings. Ball bearings are the most common type of rolling element for linear motion guides because they are both effective and affordable. These small ball shaped components are placed in a sleeve or on a track between the two moving components of the guide and the rail. The moving component rolls over these bearings rather than making contact with the fixed portion of the slide, which significantly reduces the amount of friction. With reduced friction, the slide can move more smoothly. Roller bearings and magnetic bearings provide very similar benefits, but they operate slightly differently. Roller bearings mostly differ from ball bearings in their shape only. Instead of a ball, they are flat cylinders, and the sliding portion of the guide moves along the rounded edge of the cylinders. On the other hand, magnetic bearings differ more significantly from the other types of bearings. This type of bearing consists of two encased magnets with opposite polarization. One is attached to the fixed portion of the linear guide and the other is attached to the sliding portion. While the sliding portion is still incapable of coming off the rail, the oppositely polarized magnets repel each other, keeping the two components from coming in physical contact. This allows the sliding portion to move along the rail without experiencing significant frictional forces.
Linear Motion Guide Applications
Linear motion guides are used in all kinds of household and industrial applications. Most sliding doors in a house or desk drawers in an office use some kind of linear motion guide to allow someone to slide them open or close them back up smoothly. Conveyor belts in some automated factory assembly lines also use linear motion guides to keep new products moving down the assembly line and on to the next step in production. In industrial or household settings, linear motion systems help to make tasks easier and more efficient every day.