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Choosing the best linear guide rail for your application

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Photo Credit: lilcrazyfuzzy/iStock Photo

Most industrial applications’ performance depends on the linear guide as one of the most fundamental frameworks of several industrial applications. Engineers know the importance of superior and perfectly fitted machines and often go for reliable and straightforward linear guides.

One standard procedure used in choosing a linear guide is the load capacity. Typically, the size of the guide majorly determines its weight capacity. The higher the load sustainable by the system, the bigger the size of the guide and the costlier the system.

The quick solution is the profiled linear guide designed to increase the load capacity of the system considerably. The framework is made with flat top and bottom profiled rails, and concave-shaped sides plus races that give rooms for the bearings to roll. The increase in the contact area between the balls and the contoured races leads to higher load capacity.

In addition to the shape, the bearing design of this setup allows the balls to move freely, independent of each other, but within a confined housing. The bearings’ self-aligning ability distributes the weight of the load, and any slight misalignment is compensated by the system adjusting itself. With this development, the load travels in a smooth, gliding motion across the rail.

Application of linear guide system

Due to its features and benefits, the linear guide is the system of choice used in many machines. Here are a few of the applications where a single linear guide is applied.

Linear Actuator

The actuator is a ‘mover’ component responsible for the movement of several systems. In the process, it converts the electrical energy or pressure, usually low, into mechanical motion in the mechanism.

A linear actuator is simply the mechanism that creates motion in a straight line, unlike being circular motion in an electric motor. The linear actuator is very cheap and efficient and commonly used in machine tools, computer hard drives and other components, printers, vans and campers, hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders etc.

Gantry robots

Gantry robots at the upgraded version of Cartesian robots. They are not commonly seen in popular culture but are part of a highly functional industrialized environment.

The Cartesian robots move in three directions, which are X, Y and Z-axis. But the modified and weight holding Gantry robots often have two X-axes or two X and two Y axes in some cases, resulting in increased load picking and handling capacity.

The basic principle at work independently in each axis is the same as in a linear actuator. Gantry robots are usually mounted overhead in the working area of the factory.

Robot transport unit

The robot can have up to six axes, for the flexibility to cover all possible directions easily. There is often the need to move a heavy load from one point of the working area to another. This task is handled efficiently by a robot transport unit. An additional axis, the 7th axis, is introduced into the system. This dual-rail is for transporting the whole of the robot from one point to another as well as connecting multiple rails.

Choosing the right linear guide product

A lot of factors go into picking the perfect linear guide, and there are a vast range of products in the market to choose from. The features, benefits, capacity and limitations should be factored in. Let’s check a few to look out when selecting the best linear guide product that fits your needs.

Load requirements

Linear guide systems are known to have higher weight capacity than circular rails. It is essential to check the load requirements and the size that can withstand the load.

Check the design

Having a clear picture of the application’s design, installation requirements and other parameters before buying a linear guide will make the process of constructing smooth and the application itself efficient.


The material used in making the linear guide is the most important here. Choosing a product with rugged construction and a long lifespan will save a lot of expenses or losses trying to replace a broken linear guide, which can be challenging to access on some machines.


Some new linear guides and design with the self-lubricating feature. Some have polymer plate or grease fittings that supply constant lubrication at the end of a carriage or few carriages. This feature not only improves efficiency but also greatly increases the lifespan of the system.


A linear guide is a standard choice for engineers designing a machine due to the several benefits it has over other types of guides or rails. The most apparent benefits are the load capacity, rigidity, travel accuracy and longer distance than crossed roller guides and different types.

augusta free press
augusta free press