Archive: Sep 2022

Linear Stages

HIWIN Corporation is a global pioneer in the precision manufacturing industry, having obtained over 2,250 patents in more than 34 countries. With start-to-finish control of our manufacturing protocols and a complete in-house machining process, our components meet the strictest international quality standards with ISO, JIS, REACH, RoHS, Ce, and UL compliance. We stock hundreds of items that are ready to ship on demand, and our expert technicians are capable of designing custom components as well as entire motion systems per your exact specifications.

Our products range from precision components such as guideways and ball screws to compact single axis stages to full systems including multiple axis configurations with motors, drives, and controllers. One thing we specialize in is our linear stages. Driven by a ballscrew, belt, or linear motor, these compact and customizable units both propel and guide the payload along a single axis. Standalone or combined into a multi-axis system, HIWIN linear stages are suitable for a wide range of industrial applications, from woodworking to additive manufacturing to precision semiconductor processing and metrology. Using time-tested, low friction bearings and components, HIWIN stages can in some cases drastically increase a system’s productivity and efficiency.

What Are Linear Stages?

Also known as translation or linear motion stages, linear stages are essentially positioning devices. At their most basic, they consist of a drive mechanism that propels the load, a bearing or guideway which handles any non-axial loading and ensures the load travels along a straight path, and some sort of base which connects these two elements. Stages typically require a motor to drive them; this may be integrated into the stage or easily coupled to it. Position feedback may be direct (as in a linear encoder on the stage) or indirect (as in a rotary encoder on the motor which drives the belt or ballscrew). Finally, it is common for additional functions such as dust protection or cable management to be considered in the design of the stage.

The essential function of a linear stage is achieving the precise, replicable motion of the carriage or payload in relation to the base. Having the elements pre-assembled into a stage ensures that the precision alignment required between the drive and guidance components is taken care of by the manufacturer, simplifying the process for the customer. This modular approach also allows end-users, integrators, or the manufacturers themselves to stack and align them into multi-axis systems. Common structures include cantilevered x-y, gantry, and x-y-z systems. Their versatility and quality make them excellent candidates for industrial and scientific tasks requiring superior accuracy, uniformity, and efficiency.

How Do Linear Stages Work?

Both ball screw and belt technologies convert the torque and rotational speed of a rotary motor to force and linear velocity along the axis of travel. In linear motor stages, the magnet track is applied along the full length of the axis, allowing the motor to directly drive the linear motion. Because the drive mechanism (belt, ball screw, or linear motor) is only intended to provide force in one direction (axial force), a guideway or other mechanism is required to guide the load and handle any non-axial forces, such as weight or offset loading. The guide component of the linear stage restricts movement on five of the six degrees of freedom to ensure the moving platform travels linearly and repeatably.

Precision linear stages are typically driven by a servo motor and drive, often in connection with a programmable controller. This configuration requires closed-loop feedback in the form of an encoder. For linear motor stages, a linear encoder is used. The encoder scale is normally mounted along the length of the axis while the encoder is mounted on the carriage and travels with the payload. Ballscrew and belt-driven stages usually make use of the rotary encoder built into the servomotor, but they can also be designed to accept direct encoder feedback in the form of a linear encoder. Some drives, like the HIWIN E1 drive, even allow for dual-loop feedback which takes into account both the motor feedback and that of a linear encoder to provide outstanding control and precision.

Innovative Linear Stages From HIWIN Corporation

Advances in linear stage technology have increased precision, performance, control, and cost-effectiveness over the past decades. Demand has surged with advances in computerized control, along with a renewed focus on automation and industry 4.0 within the manufacturing ecosystem. It is the simplicity of the principles behind their design, however, that has led to varieties of linear stage equipment that are both increasingly reliable and highly innovative. HIWIN in particular provides many customized, dust-proof, and cost-efficient motion control technologies with easy installation for many different industries. With proper set-up and use, a linear stage provides high efficiency and extremely accurate product fabrication, assembly, testing, and many other robotically controlled large-scale processing of equipment or materials.

HIWIN Corporation aims to create a better way of life and a better working environment the world over with motion control and system technology. Our linear stage devices are ultra-quiet and require little energy to run, as compared to alternative technologies. To learn more or obtain a quote for your linear stage motion control needs, contact us today.