The major components of linear motion systems fall into one of three categories: actuators, linear bearings, and control systems.
Actuators are used to initiate linear motion along the axis. Popular types of actuators include ball screws, lead (Acme) screws, screw jacks, linear slides/stages/tables, electromechanical actuators, rodless cylinders, rodless mechanical actuators, short-stroke actuators, and magnetorestrictive actuators.
Linear bearings provide support for linear motion systems. Common types are plain, linear rolling bushings, and linear rolling guides. Plain linear bearings and bushings are sliding-contact bearings, where linear ball bearings and linear (ball or roller) guides are rolling-element bearings.
Linear motors produce linear motion directly, making the mechanical conversion of rotary to linear motion unnecessary. This eliminates the use of mechanical devices like screws, belts, and gears, which reduces space, energy, and cost. They also have their own support systems, eliminating the need for separate linear bearings.
Control systems provide constant monitoring of motor and system position. Controllers generally provide circuitry needed for a position sensor. Programmable controls simplify motion control and permit simultaneously controlled motion along several axes.
Content on this page was created using excerpts from the Power Transmission Handbook (5th Edition), which is written and sold by the Power Transmission Distributor’s Association (PTDA). The Power Transmission Handbook is just under 400 pages and is a valuable resource for anyone involved or interested in the power transmission industry.