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PI is a leading manufacturer of precision motion control and automation systems, hexapod 6-axis parallel robotic stages, air bearing motion systems, Gantry Systems, 3D printing, laser machining, and piezoelectric nano-positioning solutions. Applications include photonics, semiconductor technology, medical engineering, assembly, inspection, materials handling, and bio-nanotechnology. PI has been developing and manufacturing standard & custom precision products with piezoceramic and electromagneti

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Linear Air Bearing Stage for Long Travel and Nanometer Precision

POSTED 03/30/2023

PI, a premium manufacturer of air bearings for precision motion, metrology, and automation, offers the PIglide A-123 family of wide-body, high performance air bearing linear stages. The low-profile precision air bearing positioning stages are equipped with preloaded air bearings, integrated linear encoders, and cogging-free, direct-drive linear motors. The combination of these noncontact components produces a motion platform that operates without friction, delivering exceptional performance, quality, and longevity.

The PIglide A-123, linear-motor, air bearing stage

The PIglide A-123, linear-motor, air bearing stage

Thanks to the high-force linear motor, the precision translation stage can reach peak velocity in mere milliseconds, while the high-capacity air bearings can support payloads of up to 60 kg (130lbs). The A-123 series features a laterally opposed bearing design, with actively preloaded air bearings that allow for mounting in any orientation. The A-123 wide-body linear stage family is available with travel ranges from 50mm to 750mm, can achieve 30m/s² acceleration and reach a maximum velocity of 1000mm/s. Stages are available with optional absolute encoders with 1nm sensor resolution and can achieve bidirectional repeatability of 0.1µm and calibrated position accuracy of 0.3µm.

Motion Controllers
ACS-based motion controller with EtherCat connectivity and a comprehensive suite of easy-to-use software packages help customers to quickly integrate the linear stages into their application environment.

Where are Linear Air Bearing Stages Used?
Air bearing stages are used in precision engineering, test and manufacturing applications in fields such as metrology, photonics, and precision scanning in semiconductor or flat panel display manufacturing, where extremely precise and accurate movement is required.

How Do Air Bearing Stages Work?
Air bearing stages utilize a cushion of air instead of traditional, contacting roller or ball bearings, eliminating friction, and allowing for smooth, controlled movement with exceptional guiding accuracy.

Video: How air bearing linear stages work

Advantages of Air Bearings over Mechanical Bearings
There are several advantages to using air bearing stages:

  • Zero wear and maintenance: Air bearings require no maintenance, as there are no mechanical components to wear out or lubricate. This makes them cleanroom compatible and a very reliable and cost-effective solution for high-throughput 24/7 applications.
  • High precision and accuracy: Air bearings have no physical contact with the surface they are floating on, which means there is no friction, stiction, or wear. This allows for extremely precise and accurate movement, with positioning resolutions down to the nanometer realm.
  • Smooth and vibration free motion: Because there is no physical contact, air bearing stages are not subject to the same vibrations and disturbances that affect traditional mechanical stages. This results in smoother motion with better velocity regulation.
  • High speed and acceleration: Air bearings can support very high speeds and accelerations over virtually unlimited operating times, making them ideal for applications that require fast and precise movement, such as semiconductor wafer processing and surface profiling.

Overall, air bearing stages offer a range of benefits that make them ideal for applications that require extremely precise and accurate movement.

Visit PI USA or more information on air bearings and air bearing stages