Motion and control objectives for automated storage and retrieval systems

Automated storage and retrieval systems are a key enabler of the next-day delivery we’ve come to expect from online retailers. But like other types of automation, AS/RS equipment must meet the customer’s objectives for safety, footprint, and energy efficiency. It used to be that as you drove through industrial suburbs, just beyond cities such as […]

New single-rail X-Y stage (H gantry) for positioning from H2W Technologies

H2W Technologies’ new single-rail positioning stage H-gantry design is an open-frame X-Y stage. The positioning system has two bottom parallel axes with one cross axis connecting the two (to form an H gantry). Each linear axis uses H2W’s brushless linear motors (BLDM-B04) and: Each has a total stroke to 25.67 in. (652 mm) Each can […]

XY tables: How do they differ from Cartesian and gantry systems?

There are many ways to build linear systems for motion in the X, Y, and/or Z directions – also known as Cartesian coordinates. The terms we generally use to refer to these systems depend on how the axes are assembled, where the load is positioned, and to some extent, what type of use the system […]

Synchronous belt and V belt: How to pick between them?

Power transmission in linear motion designs is often through rotary-to-linear devices, chain, or belt drives. The earliest belt iteration — and one that’s still economical today — is the friction-based V-belt design. These pair a belt with a pulley (often on an electric motor’s geared output shaft) to provide reliable operation in myriad end-user and […]

What is a chopper drive for a stepper motor?

There are two primary types of drivers for stepper motors, constant voltage drives (also referred to as L/R drives), and constant current drives (also referred to as chopper drives). One difficulty with stepper motor operation is that the time constant (L/R) of the motor windings prevents current from increasing rapidly during pulses. This means that […]

What makes miniature ball screws unique?

Ball screws are used in a wide variety of applications, but some of the most challenging are those on the extreme ends of the performance spectrum – from large diameter, large lead screws for machine tools, to screws with small diameters and very fine leads for optical and medical applications. For very small, high-precision movements, […]

Helix Linear Technologies website — new at

Helix Linear Technologies now has a new and refreshed website at The updated site includes several new lead screw and linear actuator products that deliver smooth, clean and quite linear motion solutions. The manufacturer’s goal with this new website is to provide visitors an easier way to learn about Helix Linear’s products. The new […]

IKO MX series of linear roller bearings — now more standard variations

IKO Intl. now offers more variations in its standard MX series of linear roller bearings to include special features for environments that are sensitive to metal chips, dust, and other contaminants. High load capacity. The MX models utilize rows of cylindrical rollers to provide a greater contact area than slides that use steel balls. They […]

Roller screw actuators: Design and applications

Electromechanical actuators come in many varieties, with common drive mechanisms being lead screws, ball screws, and roller screws. When a designer or user wants to transition from hydraulics or pneumatics to electromechanical motion, roller screw actuators are usually the best choice. They provide comparable performance characteristics to hydraulics (high force) and pneumatics (high speed), in […]

Can-stack linear actuators: How the motor and screw components work

Can-stack linear actuators are one type of stepper-motor design that converts rotary to linear motion with a built-in leadscrew. The linear actuators incorporate can-stack motors — sometimes called claw-tooth step motors, tin-can stepper motors, or claw-pole motors — leverage low-cost construction with punched sheet-metal parts that form toothed (or clawed) cups surrounding bobbin coils. Common […]

IKO MX series linear roller bearings now include dust protection

IKO International is building on its standard MX series of linear roller bearings to include special features for environments that are sensitive to metal chips, dust, and other contaminants. Dust protection A dust protective C-Wiper can be mounted to the outside of the end seal, ensuring operation in environments where metal chips are spattering. After […]

Festo Motion Terminal has apps to replace more than 50 components

Pneumatics is intrinsically a user-friendly technology — and it is set to become even more straightforward, versatile and flexible as the brand new Festo Motion Terminal Versatile Time Domain Electro-Magnetics (VTEM) is bringing pneumatics into the era of Industry 4.0. That’s with apps that can replace more than 50 individual components thanks to developments in […]

What is a 12 volt linear actuator?

Linear actuators are typically characterized by their drive mechanism – belt drive, ball or lead screw drive, pneumatic drive, etc. But it’s not unusual for rod style electric actuators to be classified by the input voltage – commonly 12 or 24 volts – of their integrated motors. These actuators provide thrust force, much like a […]

Linear actuator designs for vertical lifts: What are pitfalls to avoid during jack-system design?

A jack system is anything from a single jack to eight to ten jacks working in tandem to move a load. Complete jack systems refer to the mechanical components of the jacks as well as their gearboxes and couplings and accessories and shafting; electrical components including motors, the system drive, and encoders; and the motion […]

What are can stack linear actuators?

Can stack linear actuators are based on can stack stepper motors, which are a form of permanent magnet steppers that consist of two stators (and therefore two coils) stacked on top of each other. The poles of each stator are “claw tooth” design and are offset from each other by one-half of the pole pitch. […]

RSF Elektronik offers new MC 15 linear encoder

RSF Elektronik now provides an upgrade path for customers using the MS 15 linear encoder or for those who would like to design in absolute linear measurement technology in price-sensitive applications. The MC 15 has exactly the same wide tolerance mounting configuration as the MS 15 and has a built-in functional reserve of signal strength. […]

Cyber dynamic linear actuators with integrated ball screw from WITTENSTEIN

Ideal for packaging, food & beverage, medical and semiconductor applications, the latest addition to the cyber® dynamic line from WITTENSTEIN cyber motor offers maintenance-free precision positioning in compact space. As part of its cyber dynamic line product series, WITTENSTEIN cyber motor has launched a new series of linear actuators designed with an integrated ball screw […]

When are voice coil actuators the best linear motion option?

Voice coil actuators are most commonly used for micro- or nano-positioning applications, with strokes from 10 nm up to 100 mm. In addition to very precise positioning capabilities, voice coil actuators provide extremely smooth movement. They’re often paired with air bearings, crossed-roller guides, or linear shafts and round bearings to provide assemblies that are backlash-free. […]

What does RMS mean, and how does it apply to linear systems?

RMS, or root mean square, is a statistical term that is used for determining the mean (or average) of a set of values. It’s especially useful when the values vary as a function of time. The technical definition of root mean square is the square root of the mean of all the squares in a […]

Wear indicator nuts for jacks: How do they work?

One concern when designing a lift platform based on screw jacks is how to know if the travel nut (which bears the load) is worn out or about to fail — especially when the lift operates in a place where personnel might get hurt if the mechanism fails. In these machines, a follower nut assembly […]

What is torque, and why is it important in linear motion?

Although torque refers to rotational motion, it is a fundamental concept in linear motion applications. Rotary motors produce torque, and when this torque is transmitted to a drive system – such as a screw, belt and pulley, rack and pinion, or chain and sprocket – it’s converted to linear motion. Torque is the rotational equivalent […]

What are the six basic parts of a worm-gear jack for vertical motion applications?

Screw jacks are indispensable linear-motion designs for lifts and other vertical-motion applications. They consist of six main components. First there is the housing. This contains all of the internal jack components. Second is the worm shaft – this is an input to the jack and typically where a motor handwheel is attached. The third jack […]

Two new absolute linear encoders with several interface options from NUMERIK JENA

NUMERIK JENA now offers two families of absolute linear encoders to fit into tight spaces. Called the LAK and KIT LA, these non-contact encoders offer several types of electrical interfaces, including EnDat 2.2 with analog signals. This interface allows motion stage manufacturers to use the absolute position values and the analog position values for different […]

Vertical linear motion: Hoists to lifts to AS/RS reach new heights

New technologies boost the reliability and efficiency of vertical motion designs (including an array of lifts and hoists) for setups of various sizes. In the feature, we get input from one industry expert on the subject and then outline five key parameters that dictate what makes linear actuators suitable for lifting. Mounting orientation — especially […]

What’s the difference between ball screw jacks and machine screw jacks?

Most prevalent are worm gear screw jacks because they can lift heavy loads with little input torque. The large mechanical advantage is through a worm gear ranging from 5:1 to 32:1 in combinations with lead screw or a ball screw. Ball screw jacks differ from machine screw jacks in a few key ways. Machine screw […]