Linear Stages and Tables

Linear stages are typically characterized by a machined steel mounting surface or granite base, designed to provide not only high positioning accuracy but very high travel accuracy as well. While stages can be single- or multi-axis designs, linear tables are typically two-axis designs that allow the load to be centered on the Y, or top, axis.

Although various configurations exist, linear stages often use a linear motor with crossed roller or air bearings to support the load. Linear tables, on the other hand, often use ball or lead screw drives with profiled rail guides or crossed roller slides to support the load.

In this Motion Control Classroom, you’ll learn about the different types of linear stages and tables and how to get the highest performance from these linear motion systems in challenging applications.

Danielle Collins

Editor, Design World

Linear Stages and Tables Classroom Sponsored by:

Stages and Tables Defined

Linear Motor Stages   •  Planar Stages   •  XY Tables 

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

What are planar stages and gantries?

What are iron core linear motors?

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 was designed for.

Linear motors are often classified as either ironless or iron core, referring to how their primary parts are constructed. Ironless linear motors have a primary made of windings that are embedded in epoxy resin.

What are ironless linear motors?

Multi-axis stages are usually constructed in either an XY or a gantry configuration. Within the category of XY stages, there are stacked and monolithic designs. But both XY and gantry stages can be designed as planer types.

There are two main types of linear motors: iron core and ironless, depending on the construction of the motor’s primary part. Iron core designs produce very high thrust forces and are often found in machine tool.

Sponsored by:


Precision Linear Stages

Ballscrew Driven Motion Stages

Application Considerations for Stages and Tables

Performance  •  Selection  •  Configurations

What are monolithic

XY tables?

The benefits – and drawbacks – of linear motors for dynamic applications

Maximizing performance of precision motion stages in industrial applications

What is cogging in linear motors?

XY tables are constructed from two linear axes – typically driven by linear motors, ball screws, or lead screws – that are mounted perpendicular to each other in either a stacked or a monolithic design.

Linear motors are generally classified by the construction of the motor’s primary part: ironless or iron core. In an ironless linear motor, the windings of the primary are embedded in an epoxy resin.

Motion controller and drive features can address the natural behavior of motion stages that can otherwise degrade throughput and accuracy — including those arising from mechanical resonances.

Linear motors can achieve high acceleration rates and long travel lengths with good thrust forces and extremely high positioning accuracies, while other drive mechanisms.

Featured Resource:

Motion Design Guide on Nanopositioning and Miniature Motion Systems Design

Can a linear actuator provide the rigidity and accuracy of a linear stage?

Although there are no industry standards that define linear actuators and linear stages, generally accepted terminology indicates that a linear actuator is typically constructed with an aluminum extrusion or base, while a linear stage is typically built on a flat, machined steel or granite base.

The basics of air bearings

Bearings are often thought of as mechanical rolling or sliding elements, but linear (or rotary) bearings can also use a thin film of pressurized air to support a load. With no mechanical elements to generate friction or heat, air bearings are ideal for applications that require extremely high precision and stiffness. 

When to consider crossed roller slides

Today, electric actuators are easier than ever to specify and install. Value-add services from component suppliers as well as application-specific actuator product lines (especially for battery-powered designs in mobile equipment and consumer use) eliminate many integration tasks for OEMs and end users. 

HIWIN is the world leader in motion control and system technology, providing high quality and reliable standard and custom components and complete motion control solutions with precision quality, at competitive prices. With an extensive inventory in Chicago, our products are widely used in industrial equipment, lab equipment, semi-conductor and more.

PI manufactures precision motion control systems, linear stages, XY-stages, rotary stages, hexapods, piezoceramic motors, laser steering mirrors, air bearings, nanopositioning stages at locations in the USA, Europe, and Asia. ISO9001 certified since 1994, 1500 employees. Industries include aerospace, semiconductors, photonics, nanotechnology, lasers, life-sciences.

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