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Avoid These Mistakes When Choosing Linear Guides

Do your linear guides suddenly raise their speed or start operating on high friction points? Or perhaps your choosing linear guide isn’t correctly lifting the load?

Just because of the greatest features, it’s always not possible that tools like linear motion guides are always applicable for providing relevant results. Over time, such devices start losing their actual functionalities and result in poor efficiency and less accuracy.

Generally, linear guides are mechanical devices that work as a part of a system. But sometimes, when a part of the machine fails to provide the appropriate accuracy or a user avoids following manufacturers specified guidelines, it becomes difficult to get the desired outcomes. Additionally, people also make mistakes when it comes to choosing the right linear guide. They avoid focusing on several factors like – size, preload and accuracy. 

But, for obtaining “accuracy” in a generic sense, it’s imperative to have a clear understanding of how to specify, install and test guides. There are some other factors that matter a lot in terms of bringing an appropriate tool to your store. 

In this write-up, we’ll explain in detail – what mistakes you need to avoid while choosing linear guides.

So, let’s get started!

What Are Linear Guides?

The primary purpose of linear guides is to make sure that the machine moves along a straight line smoothly. Usually, this is only possible through linear motion bearings, which are made of plastic or ceramic bushes. Sometimes, the oil-infused plastic uses to overcome the sliding friction. 

A linear guideway allows a type of linear motion that utilizes elements such as rolling balls. By using rotating components between rail and block, linear guideways produce high precision linear motion and considerably improved moving accuracy. 

What Mistakes to Avoid While Choosing Linear Guides?

1.  Avoid Adding Mounting Features for Alignment

The installation of the precision linear motion guides require an accurate alignment for obtaining the top level of performance. Therefore, while choosing a linear guide, ensure the device is emphasised with the right mounting features. Having such functionality can enhance speed and provide effective performance. A simple pair of alignment pins can straighten the primary track. 

But, for obtaining a high accuracy performance, the tool requires more precise care.  Therefore, make sure the guides are installed using shoulder surfaces, which further helps in providing effective results. These surfaces offer the flat and stable support structure for the tracks and bearings. So, a linear guide is able to deliver micron-scale straightness.

Don’t forget to determine the errors between tracks. If any significant error occurs, it means the shoulder surfaces aren’t properly dimensioned. The reason for occurring an error could be – too large corner radius or the rail may contact the corner radius instead of the shoulder itself. Hence, the best solution is to define the shoulder dimensions accurately from the start.

2. Not Defining Preload Accurately

Indeed, buying a precision linear guide with preload means increasing efficiency and reducing the negative factors like vibration, noise, heat generation, and deflection. An inadequately defined preload can significantly increase friction and deteriorate system performance. 

It is only possible if the accuracy of the mounting surface meets the precision of the linear motion guides. However, if the precision of both the mounting surface and the guides isn’t matching, the preload in the guide can cause problems.

Hence, the preload of the guides must match accuracy. If the accuracy isn’t matching, it’s recommended that give preference to a linear guide with a line-to-line fit (normal preload) or even a small amount of extra clearance. 

The extra clearance will help the guide in taking up the misalignment. It means the device will no longer face the high friction. Therefore, it’s essential to define any internal clearance to guarantee that the friction is low.

3. Ignore to Test Full Run of Travel

An undefined problem isn’t easy to solve. Therefore, it’s essential to test the device and check the parallelism after assembling it. Adding an inspection step for estimating the push force of the carriage will help in knowing about the errors. If the push force is consistent while moving the linear guide in the straight line, it concludes that the tool is working properly. However, if push force sticks at one point, it may indicate that the linear tracks aren’t working in parallel and require realignment. 

4. Not Forming Mounting Surfaces to Tolerance

Generally, linear motion guides are straight tracks that usually work on minimal friction. In the imaginary world, the friction of every type of linear guide is the same whether it is mounted or not. But in the real world, the situation is totally different. Any misalignment or out of the flatness of the mounting surfaces instantly adds preload into the linear guide system. 

5. Mechanical Components

Mounting tolerances include both the parallelism of the linear guides to one another and the flatness of the mounting surface where the tracks locate. While installing the linear guide, if the friction of this tool gets high, it means the mounting tolerances and rail alignment are much far from the actual specifications.

6. Avoid Examining the Impact of Materials and Plating on Cost and Lead Time

Likewise other vital aspects, material and coating also play a significant role to identify the performance standpoint, cost and lead time. In the market, various anti-corrosion options are available, from thick chrome plating to multiple black chrome layers. But sometimes, choosing a stainless-steel of a linear guide provides an effective solution. Hence, it’s imperative to examine the effects of materials and plating while choosing the guides.

Wrapping Up!

Lastly, after taking into account the necessary points, a buyer can understand the various design parameters and requirements while choosing a linear guide. With thorough research, you can configure, source, and purchase a tool that won’t only provide precision outcomes but also improve the performance.

To know more about linear guides, contact us and feel free to ask any query!

Thanks for reading!


Grace is a leading contributing editor in the field of mechanical engineering, specializing in power transmission products. She is the business development manager of Shafttech, a mechanical components powerhouse based in Asia.

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