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Everything You Need To Know About Linear Rails

Linear Rails

Linear actuators are designed specifically for moving a load from one point to another, either up and down, side to side or forward and backward. There are a range of options in terms of linear actuators, but if you are looking for a solution that will provide precise, smooth movements and cope well with unusual loads, then a linear rail actuator is likely to be the solution of choice. Find out more about linear rails, some of their advantages and where they are most commonly used.

What are linear actuators?

Actuators are usually powered by either electricity, pneumatics or hydraulics and move loads from one position to another. They can be found across all industries, from heavy industrial plants through to precision manufacturing. Linear motion systems are commonly powered by pneumatics or hydraulics because these forms of energy are ideal in many ways for producing linear movement. However, sometimes electricity can be an excellent choice where accuracy of movement and control over acceleration and deceleration are important. In these situations, electric motors can be used to create linear motion through solutions like ball screws, which we will look at in a moment.

What is a linear rail actuator?

Standard linear actuators have a solid body which moves the load, using solutions such as an extending rod where the limit of the motion is defined by the housing from which the slider extends. A linear rail actuator, however, contains a stationary base and a load bearing carriage which travels along a rail, usually made of rigid aluminium. A common linear rail actuator used in linear motion systems is the ball screw actuator. In a linear ball screw actuator, a threaded shaft provides ball bearings with a helical path around which they move, contained within the load mount. The use of these ball bearings means that the system has very low friction compared with alternatives like the screw and nut version, making them much more efficient. They are also high-precision solutions, giving the advantage of providing accurate movement and repeatability in environments where precision of movement is critical. Linear balls screws also provide a greater thrust force and can carry heavier loads than other linear actuators. 

Benefits of linear rails

Linear rail actuators are not the ideal solution for every application; where a hygienic environment is required, linear rods are often the solution of choice, and where the linear motion system needs to integrate with other movable equipment or parts, the rail assembly can be an obstacle. However, linear rails do offer some distinct advantages:

Linear rail applications

Linear rail actuators can be found in a wide range of processing and manufacturing plants, carrying out jobs from precision, lightweight movement through to thousands of kilograms and large loads. Their limitless travel range makes them ideal for settings where other solutions would fall short in terms of distance of travel. This means that identifying every instance where a linear rail could be a suitable solution for linear motion would create an almost endless list, however, here are some of the more common applications where you might expect to find a linear rail actuator:

Linear rails can be cut to length to suit any design of structure and are available in a wide range of options, allowing for space-saving solutions as well as heavy or awkward loads. There are few situations where linear rail actuators would not be the obvious choice for linear motion, and for that reason they remain one of the most popular actuator solutions.

Matara UK are manufacturing partners of bespoke linear rail solutions. Visit their website to learn more about their linear rail product range. 

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