Linear bearings include mechanical components that allows relative motion between two surfaces -- with one surface supporting the other and minimum friction between the two.
The two basic types of linear guides include:
• Plain linear bearings — in more casual contexts, sometimes called guide rods
• Rolling-element linear bearings — in more casual contexts, sometimes called ball slides These two linear-motion options have similar functions but vastly different design and performance characteristics.
In this Design Guide, the editors of Design World explain the parameters employed to properly specify linear bearings — especially those relating to accuracy, life, and preload. Such values communicate the performance and capabilities of linear bearings for optimized sizing, selection, and installation. Look for deep dives on crossed-roller slides, linear bushings, and ball splines in other Design Guide installments.
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