Welcome to this installment of MC² on linear guide and slide systems!

Recall that these linear-motion supports take the form of guide rails, slides, and ways … and include profile rails, linear bearings, guide wheels, slides, and plain-bearing systems that bear load while employing either sliding or rolling to allow translational motion. Typical designs pair rail or shaft with mating carriages or runner blocks.

You’ll find some resources on linear guides and slides to help design engineers choose from the vast array of these linear systems … and satisfy requirements for loading, stroke, speed, accuracy, and design life.

Also check out our library on preloading considerations and market-specific topics … including machine-tool applications and semiconductor manufacturing (where rolling linear guides abound); advanced medical applications (where square rails are common); and simpler machine axes (where forgiving slide designs maintain build ruggedness).

Lisa Eitel

Senior Editor, Design World


Linear Motion Control Classroom Sponsored by


Specify • Trends • Measure • Performance

Specifying and sizing linear rails for motion systems

The best approach to specifying and sizing linear rails is to define the most critical parameters of the application first.

Trends: Consumer health-monitoring devices

Growth of consumer health-monitoring devices is prompting new uses of linear-motion designs.

Why use integrated position measuring with linear guides?

Linear guides provide accurate, high-capacity travel for a wide variety of machine types and processes.

What are the differences between plain and rolling linear guides?

While their general function is the same, their design and performance differ significantly.

Linear Motion Video

Learn how to apply the most important equations for sizing, selecting, and comparing linear bearings.

Choosing the wrong linear motion system can be a costly mistake, resulting in design or structural changes, poor machine performance, or oversized components with higher costs.

Round shaft or profiled rail? How to choose

Design World’s MC² video on linear guide and slide systems

Welcome to this installment of Design World’s MC² (motion control classroom) on linear guide and slide systems. Linear-motion systems work in all kinds of applications, from industrial drawers to Cartesian robots

Common applications for linear rails

Linear rails are the backbone of many industrial applications, providing low-friction guidance and high stiffness for loads that can range from just a few grams to thousands of kilograms.

Their range of sizes, accuracy classes, and preloads make linear rails suitable for virtually any performance requirement.


Technical Focus • Tips • Linear Bushings • Geometry

Technical summary: What is linear motion design engineering?

Technologies including linear motors, linear actuators, and linear rolling guides.

Tips for selecting and applying telescoping linear bearings

Profiled rail bearings are ideal for applications that require long stroke lengths in a fixed footprint.

How do self-aligning linear bushings work?

Linear bushings ride on a hardened, round shaft to provide linear guidance with low friction.

How raceway geometry affects profiled rail guide performance

The two most common raceway geometries are referred to as circular arc and Gothic arch

Resources from our Sponsors

PBC Linear: Eliminate Artifact Lines with

Consistent Linear Motion

The use of large format digital image scanning has broadened into many fields. In all these areas, the need for clean scans and output without the distraction and interference of artifact lines is critical. 

Bishop-Wisecarver Corporation helps manufacturers and automation solution providers engineer linear and rotary motion products. With 65+ years of engineering expertise and manufacturing best practices.

For over 35 years, PBC Linear has been engineering innovative plain bearing technology, patented linear guides and actuators. PBC provides services and solutions in linear motion systems to industries around the world.