If you work with linear bearings, factory environments that have a lot of dust, metal chips or other particulates can be a nightmare. If these contaminants get inside the raceways, the bearing can fail prematurely—causing time-consuming and costly downtime for your application.

The good news is IKO linear bearings have built-in features that guard against contamination. Consider the following options:

C-Wiper. As the bearing moves, a dust-protective C-Wiper creates a barrier between the outside environment and rolling elements, adding an extra layer of sealing protection. Mounted to the outside of the end seal, the C-Wiper ensures operation in environments where metal chips are spattering. After 1,000 km of operation during durability tests, the C-Wiper prevented foreign substances from entering the slide unit with no damage to the end seal. C-Wipers are available on roller-type bearings only.

Rail caps. Most rails contain mounting holes, which can easily become filled with foreign particulates. Inserting plastic, aluminum or brass caps prevents substances from entering into the slide unit. Another solution is to eliminate mounting holes altogether. Some sizes and series have a bottom-mount option.

Sheets, plates and scrapers. Rail cover sheets, which consist of adhesive tape and steel plates, can be fastened to the groove on the surface of the rail to prevent materials from getting inside. To that end, you can use cover plates to guard the entire surface. Mounted to the outside of the end seal, scrapers remove larger chips and particulates that stick to the rail.

Depending on how extreme your environment is, you may require more than one design feature to effectively guard your linear bearings against contaminants.

Learn more about the MX range.

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Crossed roller bearings can handle complex loads in any axis, making them a great fit for robot, machine tool and other industrial applications. Watch our video to learn more.

 

 

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In many machine building applications, engineers face limitations in how they can integrate cam followers into their design–an issue that often boils down to ease of mounting the cam follower.

When mounting is an issue, it’s important to consider the following when selecting your cam follower:

  • Double hex hole design. Cam followers, like our CFKR model, feature hexagon holes on both stud ends, letting you easily mount them with a hexagon wrench from either side. You can therefore install them in tight, hard-to-reach spots on your machine and then tighten them from the opposite end. With this design, the mounting options are limitless.
  • Design flexibility. Having a wide range of design and size options matters if you want to maximize the performance of your linear bearings. CFKR cam followers are available in sizes as high as 90 mm roller diameter, depending on your application. Also, be sure to look for variations in roller guide method (cage or full complement), shape of the outer ring outside the surface (crowned or cylindrical) and seal structure (shielded or sealed type). We also have an Easy Mounting Type cam follower that is somewhat unique to IKO and allows for additional design flexibility.
  • High load ratings. Too many linear bearings on the market today are limited in terms of the loads they can bear. CFKR bearings, however, demonstrate superior rotational performance and high load capacity. Consider the CFKR 90 V model, which features dynamic and static load ratings in excess of 67,000 and 144,000 N, respectively, compared to 40,500 and 83,000 N for similar cam followers on the market.

You can learn more about our CFKR line of cam followers here.

 

 

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A company that supplies furniture for a high-end retail store uses our linear guides in its drawer units. Normally, for this kind of application, a standard aluminum drawer slide with minimal accuracy would suffice. But because the units are used in such a high-end environment, the customer wanted a higher quality system. Should someone put weight on the drawer or slam it shut, for example, the unit wouldn’t break.

In this recent application, not only were our linear guides used in an innovative way, but our engineers provided our customer with the technical knowledge they needed to overcome two design challenges.

Overcoming Mounting Issues. Instead of using standard drawer slides, the customer chose IKO linear guides for their high accuracy and smoothness. The components were mounted onto a metal bracket, resulting in unwanted friction as soon as they were tightened. As a result, it became difficult to open the drawer.

The customer consulted us, and we worked with the furniture engineers on-site. We discovered that the brackets were non-machined, which made for a wavy mounting surface. As a result, deflection was occurring on the linear track rail. We solved this problem by working with our customer to machine-grind the brackets, creating a flat mounting surface and enabling the guides to travel smoothly along the rails.

Overcoming Installation Issues. A second obstacle arose during installation of the linear guides. Rail bearings are typically mounted onto a plastic “dummy” rail during assembly and packaging, which helps retain the balls in the housing and also mount the bearing onto the rail. Because they weren’t using the dummy rail, however, the furniture engineers had difficulty transferring the linear guides to the rails without dislodging the balls.

Again, we provided our customer with the hands-on expertise they needed to properly install our product. The end result is that we were able to help our customer construct high-quality, robust drawer units for the retail store. No matter what phase of the design process our customer is in, whether prototyping or final assembly, our engineers are always available to solve simple and complex engineering problems.

You can learn more about our linear guides here.

 

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Designing complex motion systems for medical and lab automation equipment has gotten harder. To keep pace, it’s important to choose the right motion control components. This includes linear guides that are miniature, smooth and maintenance-free. Watch our video to learn more about what to look for when designing the next generation of medical machines.

 

 

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In the semiconductor, medical, surgical, robotics and precision machinery industries, components must sometimes be sized to the smallest dimensions possible to meet demanding performance criteria. When bearing sizes range from 1 to 42 mm, load capacity and maintenance can become more of an issue than in larger units.

In a new white paper, IKO addresses some of the most important considerations you should keep in mind when specifying miniature bearings. They include:

  • Zero maintenance lubrication. In moving systems, proper lubrication is key. This is especially true in smaller components that have harder to reach areas. IKO solves this problem in its line of miniature guides by using C-Lube, a built-in lubricating element that provides you with long lasting, maintenance free operation through capillary action.
  • Multiples sizes and load capacities. Sizes and load ratings in miniature linear bearings are often limited. In IKO’s standard miniature line, however, track widths range from 1 to 42 mm. At the same time, they feature dynamic load ratings of more than 16,700 N and moment load ratings higher than 320 N●m in the roll axis.
  • High performance materials and coatings. When material choices for miniature bearings are limited, engineers tend to either over-specify or under-specify the components that make up the larger system. IKO’s miniature guides are available in various materials and coatings, allowing them to be used in demanding environments facing humidity, moisture or thermal extremes.
  • Interchangeable, flexible components. Instead of having to purchase a completely new setup after just one part fails, look for linear guides that feature interchangeable parts. IKO offers slide units and track rails as separate pieces, which means you can simply swap out the failed unit for a new one.

To learn more, download the white paper, Miniature Linear Bearings Offer Maximum Performance.

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Miniature bearings are often supplied “as is” with very few options available when it comes to material choices. This lack of choice probably won't pose any problems in lightly-loaded, intermittent-use applications. But having a wide range of material choices starts to matter if you want to maximize the performance of your miniature linear bearings.

The right rail steel. For example, we offer miniature guides with either stainless steel or carbon steel rails. Stainless steel enables use in clean rooms and other demanding environments, while high carbon steel models are designed for all-purpose use. Stainless steel end plates are also available for applications experiencing thermal extremes. In addition, a special grade of nonmagnetic hard alloy is available for use in areas that are sensitive to magnetic fields such as certain medical and surgical equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.

Upgrade the balls. The balls that reside inside the carriages are available in three materials as well—stainless steel, carbon steel and ceramic. In extremely humid conditions, even stainless steel can develop rust over time, which makes ceramic balls a better choice in this scenario. Other benefits of ceramic over stainless steel include exceptional performance with higher rigidity, less deformation, improved speed and reduced noise. In applications involving high humidity, extreme speeds or strict noise requirements, ceramic balls are a better choice than stainless versions.

Consider coatings. Specialized coatings are another option to consider. In extreme environments facing high humidity or moisture, corrosion-resistant coatings add an extra degree of protection for guide rails and housings. Coatings are easily specified and applied at the factory prior to delivery. 

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Not long ago, the motion systems used in medical and lab automation equipment had technical requirements that were easy to satisfy. These lightly loaded applications generally required simple point-to-point moves with low to moderate positioning accuracy requirements.

With the exception of surgical robots and some diagnostic systems, many medical machines still have modest positioning accuracy requirements compared to applications such as semiconductor and electronics assembly. Yet the motion axes in medical machines have to run smoothly, quietly and sometimes at high speeds.

Medical motion systems have therefore had to become more sophisticated to keep pace with two unfolding trends in the medical machine marketplace:

  • Miniaturization. Diagnostic equipment, DNA sequencers and other types of automation systems occupy less space than in years past, and these machines increasingly require streamlined mechanical designs.
  • Increasing demand for reliability and low cost of ownership. Linear guides can make a big difference in how well the machine runs and how much it will cost to keep running.

The next generation of medical machines will need linear guides that are compact relative to the loads they carry. They will also need to run smoothly with adequate precision and integrate design features that ensure the machine has a long, trouble-free life.

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Metal-on-metal wear is one of the main causes of maintenance and downtime in cam-driven machines. Unless you want to deal with the expense of pitted cam surfaces or seized cam followers, you’ll have to adhere to a strict lubrication regimen.

To keep cam-driven systems running their best, you’ll need to apply lubricant to the exterior cam surfaces as well as to the interior of any rolling cam followers. It’s a lot of maintenance to keep straight, and in practice, many cam-driven machines don’t get the lubrication they really need.

However, there is an alternative to the oil-can approach. You can simply specify permanently-lubricated cam followers for your machines. We offer two different types to address the need for external and internal lubrication. Both types are based on C-Lube, an oil-impregnated polymer pad that slowly releases lubricant onto any metal surfaces it contacts.

  • Externally lubricated. To handle the lubrication between the cam follower and the cam’s running surface, we’ve incorporated C-Lube into an external unit that mounts like a hood over the cam follower. It not only provides permanent lubrication to protect expensive cam surfaces from wear but also lubricates without the contamination that occurs when you apply an external lubricant.
  • Internally lubricated. Some of our cam follower models also have a C-Lube component integrated into the space beneath the cam follower’s outer ring. This C-Lube integration handles the lubrication of the cam follower needle bearings and internal components, eliminating the need to apply lubricant through the cam follower’s grease nipple.

Both C-Lube technologies can last for years without significant degradation of their lubricating capabilities. In testing, for example, we’ve had C-Lube running in cam follower applications for more than 16,000 km while still retaining 95% of its lubricating oil.

You can learn more about C-Lube cam follower bearings here.

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When motion control components get smaller, the engineering challenges get bigger. Consider miniature linear bearings for instance. In bearing sizes under 25-mm, challenges related to long-term maintenance, bearing load capacity and design flexibility become more pronounced than on bigger units. Here’s a look at how we’ve addressed those challenges as miniature bearings become more popular in medical, surgical, life science and robotics applications:

No More Maintenance. One of the surest ways to keep miniature bearings running smoothly for the long haul is to make sure they are lubricated regularly or have an integrated lubrication mechanism. Most of our miniature bearings, for instance, can make use of our C-Lube long-term lubrication system, which offers a controlled release of lubricant over 20,000 km of operation. We can integrate C-Lube technology into bearings as small as 3-mm wide.

Small Bearings, Big Loads. Another issue with most miniature linear bearing lines is the limited range of sizes and bearing capacities. However, our standard miniature line spans a wide range from 1-mm to 25-mm wide, with wide-carriage options as high as 42-mm. We’re also unique in offering our miniature carriages in up to four different lengths—compact, standard, long and extra-long in many sizes. With all the different widths and slider lengths, you can easily tailor a miniature bearing system to your payload requirements. And keep in mind, our largest linear bearings with the larger carriage lengths can handle much higher dynamic and moment loads than you would think possible with a miniature unit. Our largest “miniature” models for example, have dynamic load ratings in excess of 16,600 N (LWLG25) and moment load ratings over 320 N•m (MLFG42) in the roll axis.

Many Options. Usually with miniature bearings, you give up some design flexibility. Not so with our line. In addition to the wide range of track width and carriage sizes, we have other options that increase your design flexibility. Among them:

  • Interchangeable components, even with light preload.
  • Corrosion resistant coatings.
  • Ceramic balls.
  • Stainless steel or carbon steel rails.
  • Stainless steel end plates for applications with thermal extremes.
  • Bottom-mounted, threaded mounting hole rails
  • C-Lube options (long-term maintenance-free operation)

Watch our latest video for a quick overview of miniature linear bearings.

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Wildcat Technologies makes laboratory and well site pyrolysis instrumentation for the oil and gas industry. For a crucial role in its flagship HAWK (Hydrocarbon Analysis With Kinetics) instrument, the company uses precision positioning tables from IKO International, Inc.

Wildcat Technologies’ HAWK instrument uses about 100 milligrams of 60 mesh size ground rock to measure all the normal pyrolysis parameters like total organic carbon (TOC), free oil (S1), kerogen yield (S2), organic carbon dioxide yield (S3) and maturity (Tmax). It also measures inorganic carbon which provides the carbonate carbon content of rock samples.

Reliable positioning tables. For the HAWK, Wildcat Technologies sought out a precise, robust slide that allowed them to do multiple pyrolysis samples at the same time. After mulling over several options, the company found that IKO’s TU positioning table was a great fit. IKO designs and manufactures a wide variety of specialized positioning tables that serve as reliable positioning mechanisms within industrial equipment and machinery.

Hawk 3

Download the case study for a closer look at this pyrolysis instrument and the role that IKO’s positioning tables play in Wildcat Technologies’ design.

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Walk through any plant that uses linear motion systems, and you can often see maintenance workers, grease gun in hand, applying lubrication to linear guides. And why shouldn’t they? Under-lubricated guides can wear excessively, which leads to performance problems and premature failure.

These labor-intensive lubrication practices, however, do not come cheap. Manual lubrication can cost upwards of $500 per grease fitting when you consider:

  • The cost of the lubricant itself.
  • The wages of the guy with the grease gun.
  • The fact that many grease fittings are difficult to access and service without triggering some downtime.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of linear guides that offer at least some freedom from lubrication routines. These typically have mechanical designs with provisions for storing and delivering lubricant over long periods of time.

While various takes on maintenance free guides and ways have been around for years, not all of them are created equal. Some focus on achieving the longest possible maintenance-free intervals. Others focus on a compact design that adds as little as possible to the size of the bearing’s mechanical package.

C-Lube linear components have unique designs that balance long service life with compact size. Depending on the functional requirements, these long-term maintenance free linear motion products come in different forms—including roller guides, ball guides and a ball-spline-based shaft guiding system.

To learn more about our different C-Lube variants, download the white paper.

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At IKO, we design and manufacture a wide range of crossed roller bearings that can handle radial, thrust and moment loads at the same time. Apart from our separable standard and slim types—which are separable—our crossed roller bearings have rollers alternately crossed at right angles between inseparable inner and outer rings.

Because the rollers in these bearings make line contact with the raceway surfaces, there’s minimal elastic deformation under load. Most of our crossed roller bearings also have a retainer or separators between cylindrical rollers, allowing for ultra-smooth and high-speed rotation.

Some applications include:

  • Machine tools
  • Industrial robots
  • Medical equipment
  • Semiconductor equipment
  • Turntables
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Theater productions
Crossed Roller Bearings

Sealing. We offer two options for these bearings: open and sealed. The open structure is well-suited to low-energy applications due to the absence of any sealing friction. Sealed types, on the other hand, feature synthetic rubber seals that prevent grease from escaping and protect against dust and contaminants.

Design options. Design options for our crossed roller bearings include a cage, separator and full complement design. Both the cage and separator types provide a small coefficient of friction for high-speed rotation. Full complement bearings handle heavy loads at low speeds.

Here’s a closer look at the different types of crossed roller bearings we offer:

  • Mounting Hole (CRBF). These crossed roller bearings feature mounting holes on both the inner and outer rings for easy installation. Shaft diameters range from 10 to 115 mm.
  • High Rigidity (CRBH). High rigidity crossed roller bearings feature solid, one-piece construction for high accuracy. Smooth rotation comes from separators incorporated between cylindrical rollers, making it suitable for high rotational speeds. Shaft diameters range from 20 to 300 mm.
  • Standard (CRB[C]). Standard crossed roller bearings feature a two-piece outer ring that’s bolted together to prevent separation during transport and installation. Available in caged and full complement types, shaft diameters range from 30 to 800 mm.
  • Slim (CRBS). Slim crossed roller bearings feature a small outside diameter and a narrow width. Available in caged, separator and full complement types, the bearing’s shaft diameters range from 50 to 200 mm.
  • Super Slim (CRBT). Super slim crossed roller bearings feature a compact design that’s 5.5 mm high and 5 mm wide, and separators are incorporated between cylindrical rollers for smooth rotation. Shaft diameters range from 20 to 50 mm.

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If you need an accurate, repeatable positioning table, look no further than our Nano Linear Tables (NT).

Faster and more precise than other options, NT features linear motors and high-resolution encoders for responsive motion, as well as high-carbon steel tables and beds for extra stability. These tables come with high-performance neodymium magnets that enable a maximum thrust of 70 N in a tiny package. They also have built-in C-Lube lubrication units for guaranteed long life and maintenance-free operation for five years or 20,000 km.

These models are used in a wide range of applications including semiconductor equipment, liquid crystal manufacturing, inspection instruments, liquid handling, pick and place and assembly equipment that require clean environments. We offer four models of NT tables, each with varying technical features and advantages to meet your application needs:

Standard models (NT…V): Compatible with vertical mounting, NT...V is available in three sectional widths with thrusts up to 36 N and stroke lengths between 10 and 120 mm. This model uses our Linear Way L, a miniature linear motion rolling guide for the table guidance.

High accuracy models (NT…H): NT...H offers a maximum thrust of 25 N and stroke lengths from 25 to 65 mm. Its running accuracy is less than 1 µm, thanks to Anti-Creep Cage Crossed Roller Ways used in the table’s guiding parts.

Pick and place models (NT…XZ): This table offers maximum thrust of 50 N on the x axis and 25 N on the z axis, and stroke lengths of 45 mm on x axis and 10 mm on the z axis. This series, which features a thin profile of 18 mm, uses C-Lube Linear Way ML miniature linear motion rolling guide in the table guiding parts.

High thrust pick and place models (NT…XZH): NT...XZH offers a maximum thrust of 70 N in both the x and z axes, with stroke lengths of 25 mm in the x axis and 10 mm in the z axis. Closed loop control with linear encoders in both axes enables both high resolution and extreme responsiveness. This series uses our C-Lube Linear Way ML miniature linear motion rolling guide in the table guiding parts.

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At IKO, we’ve developed a series of needle bearings that incorporate our C-Lube technology to reduce the oiling management workload for our customers. Built into needle bearings and linear motion rolling guides, the C-Lube series keeps products maintenance-free with just the right amount of lubricant for an extended period of time.

Lubricating oil and fine particles of ultra-high molecular weight polyolefin resin are solidified by heat treatment to fill the inner space of the bearing. As the bearing rotates, the lubricating oil keeps the raceways and rolling elements lubricated for a long period of time.

Many of our cam and roller follower needle roller bearings are available in maintenance-free C-Lube versions. The same applies to our machined-type metric needle roller bearings.

Cam Followers. C-Lube cam followers feature a thermoset solid lubricant that’s pre-packed into the bearing space for long lasting, maintenance-free operation. With a stud diameter range from 5mm to 20mm, they’re continuously lubricated for smooth, uninterrupted motion as the bearings rotate.

For even more maintenance time and cost reduction, we offer a separate C-Lube unit that automatically distributes solid lubricant onto the cam follower’s outer ring and mating track surface. The CL unit attaches to the head of the cam follower, eliminating additional work to the bearing system.

C-Lube Cam Followers

In a durability test, our C-Lube cam follower with the C-Lube unit attached ran for 16,000 km, and the cam follower still had 95% of its residual lubricating oil. C-Lube cam followers are ideal for applications such as printing, material handling and semiconductor manufacturing equipment.



Roller followers. IKO roller followers are designed for outer ring rotation where needle rollers are incorporated in a thick-walled outer ring. They’re used in cam mechanism guides for linear motions of conveying equipment and other similar applications. By incorporating C-Lube into the roller follower’s internal space, it becomes maintenance-free. Other benefits include:

  • Less consumption of lubrication oil. Constant lubrication is unnecessary and the C-Lube technology reduces the consumption of lubrication oil.
  • Use in oil-sensitive applications. Lubrication oil is contained inside the bearing, reducing oil leakage and contamination.
  • Lower costs. C-Lube eliminates the costs of designing oiling devices and/or man-hours needed to re-lubricate the bearings.
Roller Followers

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In the productivity-driven packaging industry, there are many possible sources of downtime. You can eliminate many of them by selecting failure-resistant linear motion components such as robust linear guides and positioning tables. These parts integrate design features that can prevent premature failure due to poor lubrication practices or contamination.

At the same time, however, these guides and tables still have to meet the necessary accuracy, precision and load requirements—all of which are on the upswing in packaging applications. To maximize the lifecycle of these linear motion components, there are three features you should look for:

  • Self-lubrication. Inadequate lubrication is one of the main causes of premature linear guide failure, which can bring packaging lines to a dead stop.
  • Contamination reduction. Packaging applications are highly sensitive to contamination, which has vast implications for productivity. Entire packaging lines can be brought to a halt if contaminants make their way into linear guides.
  • Clearance. With some clearance between the rail and rolling elements, linear guides need less linear forces to move the slider at a given speed, benefitting fast-moving packaging machines.

Selecting linear bearings that self-lubricate, fight contamination and offer some clearance will solve many downtime problems by keeping your linear motion axes running smoothly for the long haul.

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Designed for maintenance-free operation in applications like medical equipment and semiconductor manufacturing, our C-Lube Linear Ball Spline MAG is a rolling guide that enables linear motion along a spline shaft with an external cylinder or slide unit.

The MAG’s splined shaft allows this linear guide to handle radial loads and transmit torque. Its optional stainless steel shaft material is corrosion-resistant, making it ideal for applications in cleanroom environments. In addition, a four-point contact, double-row raceway design gives the ball spline high accuracy and rigidity, even under fluctuating or complex loads.

Flexible design options. For this linear guide, we offer two different cylinder lengths: a standard cylindrical length and a long type. The MAG comes in six different models with spline shaft diameters ranging from 4 to 12 millimeters. Also, this model’s interchangeable specifications allow you to swap out external cylinders or spline shafts if your application requires any design changes or replacement parts.

Premium lubrication. This guide comes with our built-in C-Lube system for long-lasting operation through capillary action, which guarantees zero maintenance for 20,000 kilometers or five years. Due to its minimal lubrication requirements, the C-Lube system also makes the Linear Ball Spline MAG environmentally-friendly.

 

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For positioning applications that need to strike a balance between cost, size and precision, check out our new TE Precision Positioning Table.

The positioning table's main components are made from high-strength aluminum alloy with steel raceways and feature a slide table inside a U-shaped bed.

Cost Out. By reducing the parts count and optimizing the geometry of the components, we created a cost-effective positioning stage that still delivers in the accuracy department.

Compact Size & Light Weight. The TE Precision Positioning table has a low cross-sectional height of 26mm for TE50B, 33mm for TE60B and 46mm for TE86B. Sensors can be directly installed on an integrated sensor rail, which minimizes table size. The mass of the entire body is less than 5 lbs. for a 20 inch stroke length. These attributes contribute to minimizing equipment size and energy consumption.

Excellent Precision. The repeatability is ± 0.002 millimeters, and the positioning accuracy is as good as 0.035 mm.

The TE table specification can be easily chosen to meet different application requirements. Key features and options include:

  • Precise IKO linear guide technology
  • High-strength aluminum alloy construction integrating steel raceways
  • Precision ball screw with two types of lead
  • Standard or flanged slide table configurations
  • Options for dual slide tables
  • Dust protection cover
  • Lubricated for life with C-Lube technology
  • Space-saving motor mount options by using a motor folding back unit
  • NEMA motor attachment bracket is available
  • Available For Quick Ship

Many TE Precision Positioning Tables are stocked in the United States and ship immediately. All other standard configurations and orders of up to five units ship within one month.

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For applications requiring high rigidity, increased load capacity, superior accuracy and maintenance-free operation, our C-Lube Linear Roller Way MXL is the way to go. This model is part of our C-Lube Linear Roller Way Super MX family, which features a range of load capacities and mounting configurations.

Technical features. MXL linear guides feature basic static load ratings that are 181% greater than MX standard units and 129% greater than MXG high rigidity long units. In addition, the MXL units are 150% more rigid than MX units and 117% more rigid than MXG units. Running accuracy is also improved by increasing the slide unit length: MXL units contain more rollers than the shorter units, thereby minimizing runout.

Ideal applications. MXL units are suited for many different applications from improving machine tool cutting accuracy to liquid crystal display manufacturing. They’re also good for other applications requiring:

  • Extra high rigidity.
  • Increased load capacity.
  • Superior accuracy.
  • Maintenance-free operation.
  • Maximum rigidity.
IKO MX

Premium lubrication. The C-Lube lubricating element of MXL features a unique capillary system consisting of a porous resin sleeve and steel backing, formed by sintering fine resin powder and impregnating a large oil supply into its open pores. As rollers circulate within the linear guide, lubricant is continuously distributed to the loading area along the track rail.

The result is maintenance-free operation guaranteed for five years or 20,000 kilometers, and reduced environmental impact due to the small amount of oil required. C-Lube is incorporated inside the slide unit, keeping size and weight to a minimum. Because C-Lube has no contact with the track, smooth motion is achieved without an increase in rolling resistance. Compared to ball bearings, rollers achieve minimal elastic deformation under load.

 

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With the exception of surgical robots and some diagnostic systems, many medical machines have modest positioning accuracy requirements, at least compared to applications such as semiconductor and electronics assembly. Yet the motion axes in medical machines do have to run smoothly and quietly, sometimes at high speeds.

The next generation of medical machines will need linear guides that are compact relative to the loads they carry. They’ll also need to run smoothly with adequate precision. And finally, they’ll also need design features that ensure that the machine has a long, trouble-free life.

Let’s take a look at how our linear products make medical machines compact, smooth, maintenance-free and long-lasting.

IKO Medical

Compact. We offer an extensive line of miniature linear motion products to meet the requirements of size-constrained medical applications. Among them are the world’s smallest recirculating ball linear guide, which has a track rail width of just 1-mm and a cross sectional height of 2.5-mm. We also offer a tiny ball-spline guide which has a shaft diameter of 2-mm and a cylinder diameter of 6-mm.

Smooth. In medical applications, one of the functional requirements is smoothness. Many guides can move from point to point quickly, but not all can do so smoothly. Medical robots and lab automation systems in particular can be especially sensitive to jerky motion. For medical applications, smoothness counts for more than maximum speed. Smoothness also translates to less noise, and quiet motion components are strongly preferred in any medical machine or diagnostic system used in proximity to patients.

Maintenance-free. The cost of maintenance, particularly lubrication needs, drives up the cost of ownership for many types of moving machines. Medical and lab automation machines are no exception. Our solution to this maintenance problem is a proprietary technology called “C-Lube,” which consists of a porous polymer reservoir that we impregnate with lubricant during our manufacturing process.

Long life. There are many reasons that a linear guide can fail to live up to its projected life cycle. Unabated contamination, for example, can shorten the life of a linear guide. So can excess temperatures. So can mechanical design or installation errors that cause misalignment between the sliders and rails. All these failure modes are possible in medical applications, but the most common and easily avoidable premature failures result from under- or over-lubrication of linear motion components, which can be prevented, once again, with our C-Lube technology.

 

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The launch, landing and overall mission of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) is one of the most daring and successful space exploration endeavors ever undertaken. MSL’s Curiosity rover has already surpassed its 23-month mission target, and it continues to transmit informative images of the Martian surface on a daily basis.

Among the robust components used in the rover is a set of precision linear bearings from IKO, the LWL Miniature Linear Motion Guides, which integrate special features that allow them to operate for years without human intervention.

While most linear motion systems won’t need to withstand the temperature extremes and mechanical stresses that Curiosity endures, the rover’s design can teach engineers how to improve the precision and reliability of earthbound applications. For example, when you know linear bearings will be used in harsh environments, it is important to:

  • Know your design constraints.
  • Consider test and lifecycle data.
  • Remember that even small loads can cause big problems.
  • Remember that small parts can easily malfunction due to debris.
  • Don’t be afraid to rely on outside expertise.

To learn more about what this space mission can teach us about linear motion and harsh environments, download the white paper.

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There are many ways to make linear guides maintenance-free, but these lubed-for-life solutions tend to be bulky. Our C-Lube technology is different.

Not only does C-Lube lubricate for five years or 20,000 kilometers, guaranteed, it also doesn’t take up any extra room in the guide housing. In this post, we’ll look at C-Lube linear guides in more detail, and learn how to determine the ideal model for your application.

Reliable lubrication. Depending on the type of linear guide, C-Lube’s elements are formed into either a plate or sleeve shape and are integrated into the bearing’s slider. They then release the impregnated oil slowly through direct, continual contact with the linear guide’s internal rolling elements.

Thanks to this on-going lubrication, C-Lube linear guides provide maintenance-free operation for 20,000 km or five years. In practice, that maintenance-free term often equates to the entire application life.

While the geometry of the lubricating element differs depending on the type of guide, the C-Lube never increases the overall dimensions of the guide. In other words, self-lubrication capabilities, at least for IKO products, do not increase the package size of the guide.

C-Lube


Pick the right model. Because all the C-Lube guides offer the same maintenance-free interval, deciding between them comes down to functional requirements such as the type of load and duty cycle. Here’s an overview of the different C-Lube variants:

  • Roller guides. Designed for applications requiring maximum stiffness and resistance to moment loads, the Linear Roller Way Super MX guides feature a slider that operates on a balanced set of four cylindrical rollers. In roller guides, the C-Lube element has been fashioned into a plate-shaped element housed just behind the slider’s end plates.
  • Ball guides. Familiar ball guides, which run on recirculating steel balls, take on a new twist when combined with C-Lube technology. In C-Lube Linear Ways, the steel balls roll through a porous resin sleeve which is soaked in the base-oil of the internal bearing grease. As the balls travel through the sleeve, they pick up oil themselves and also transfer it to the rail as they come in contact with it. At all times, the balls and rail remain free from any metal-on-metal contact due to the film of lubricant provided by the C-Lube feature.
  • Ball-spline guides. C-Lube Ball Spline MAG guides incorporate an internal oil-impregnated plate-shaped element. As the balls traverse over the C-Lube plate, they pick up oil which lubricates both the balls and the spline shaft—again protecting against metal-on-metal contact.

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For packaging applications that need a compact, cost effective motion stage, IKO has introduced the new TE Precision Positioning Table.  While not as accurate and precise as our premium stages for the semiconductor industry, it brings extra precision to packaging applications without breaking the bank.

The positioning table’s main components are made from high strength aluminum alloy and feature a slide table inside a U-shaped bed.

Cost Out. By reducing the parts count and optimizing the geometry of the components, we created a cost-effective positioning stage that still delivers in the accuracy department.

Compact Size. The TE Precision Positioning table has a low cross sectional height of 26mm for TE50B, 33mm for TE60B and 46mm for TE86B. Sensors can be directly installed on an integrated sensor rail, which contributes to the table’s small size.

Excellent Precision. The best repeatability is ± 0.002 millimeters and the positioning accuracy is as good as 0.035 mm. The TE table can be easily customized to meet different application requirements. Key features and options include:

TE

  • Standard slide table or slide table with flange.
  • Number of slide tables.
  • Dust protection cover.
  • C-Lube built-in lubrication.
  • Precision ball screw.
  • High-strength aluminum alloy.
  • Space-saving motor mount.

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