What are Linear Motion Bearings?

Blog | June 27th, 2016

In expending a big chunk of our written resources, we’ve faithfully described a number of radial bearings, but we’re changing direction today, all so we can bring our audience linear motion bearings, a form that favours unidirectional vectors. We see the frictionless product running along specially shaped rails and guides, but what exactly is anti-friction linear technology?

The Anatomy of a Singular Directional Mechanism

Like a locomotive riding its rails, linear motion bearings skate along their fixed guides, although the metaphor we’re employing would be more appropriate if we were to substitute the locomotive with a monorail engine because balls and wheels no longer dominate here. Instead, the compact bearing uses a flattened pad or bushing component and lock against a lengthened track, although wheeled variants do exist. Again, on looking back at the locomotive comparison, this is linear motion, but it can curve and turn to some degree. Of even more importance, there is an almost male-to-female relationship bonding the guide and the bearing, so the profile of the flattened or rolled rail will dominate the shape of the locked bearing.

Riding Along Shafts, Rods, and Guides 

Single lubricated guides pull the bearing along a single axis, perhaps positioning production line assemblies into an optimised processing location. The rods are built from toughened alloys that won’t flex or shrink. Meanwhile, a second bearing is often added to the form to create an XY table, a product that’s used to line up precision tools along two dimensions. Motorized products use this dual-bearing product to position tiny servo motors inside devices that rely on positional tolerances, so the locking guide must retain its rigid profile.

Universal Positional Aids 

There’s no hard-and-fast ruling in this product. Yes, we’ve talked of flat pads and lubricated rods, bushings and complex guides, but the only obligatory attribute is the aforementioned unidirectional feature, and even this attribute can reverse as long as it’s along the same axis. Indeed, even wheels and balls, the familiar parts used in rolling bearings, can be employed in linear motion bearings. Indoor hoists and cage cranes often use this latter form to manually push rigged crane cradles from one end of a warehouse to the other, though the guides are concealed high above our line of sight.

This ubiquitous product is a positional gem, a device that includes accuracy and frictionless axial motion on its product sheet. Designed to serve its shaped and lubricated guides, the product works alone or in concert with other guides and linear bearings.

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