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Motion Control Resources

Blog Post: Top Five Mistakes in Choosing and Using Linear Guides

by Wally Logan, Vice President of Engineering
Motion Solutions

Top Five Mistakes in Choosing and Using Linear Guides

ALISO VIEJO, CA – Specifying the guide itself is the easy-part learn how to avoid pitfalls in mounting, installation, and even choosing a plating.


Linear guides are precision mechanical assemblies that operate as part of a system. As such, they can only perform to the degree that they are properly integrated into the overall machine. Merely specifying the appropriate guide is not enough. Building a system that operates as intended requires a clear understanding of how to specify, design, install, and test the linear guide. Here, we discuss several of the most common errors made by designers building linear guides into their systems, and ways to avoid them.

1. Not fabricating mounting surfaces to tolerance

Linear guides are precision ground at the factory to operate with minimal friction. In an ideal world, the friction of each individual linear guide block would be the same whether it is mounted or not mounted. In reality, any misalignment or out of flatness of the mounting surfaces directly adds preload into the linear guide system.

Mounting tolerances encompass both the flatness of the mounting surface to which the rails get mounted and the parallelism of the linear guides to one another. If the friction in a guide increases when the assembly is installed, or is more extreme at one end of travel than the other, the mounting tolerances or rail alignment are very likely out of spec. . .

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