Typically mounted either underneath of the drawer or on its sides, drawer slides can also be used to ensure that the drawer cannot be accidentally removed from its housing.
While the furniture industry is strongest user of this type of linear slide, additional industries utilize drawer slides as well including: industrial manufacturing, for storage and racking applications; fire and rescue industries, for equipment and tool mounting and storage applications; and commercial and residential, for domestic appliance storage and shelving applications.
Due to the wide range of their applications, drawer slides can be made out of diverse materials. The type of material used to manufacturer drawer slides depends on its subsequent applications. For instance, a drawer slide intended for use in industrial manufacturing applications would be constructed from metals such as steel or aluminum to provide heavy-duty load bearing capabilities.
On the other hand, a drawer slide intended for use in the furniture industry could be constructed from wood or plastic depending on the material of the housing or enclosure.
Drawer slides are fairly simple constructions, consisting of two main components: a stationary linear base, also referred to as a linear guide or rail, and a moving carriage. Used to support and guide the rolling elements, referred to as linear bearings, the linear base is a flat, smooth surface that allows the linear bearings to travel in a controlled, precision motion rather than being free and unrestrained.
The moving carriage attains mobility through the linear bearings; which can be either ball bearings or roller bearings. Used to reduce the amount of friction between an object, linear bearings allow for heavy objects to be easily moved and are typically made out of either steel or ceramic.
The main difference between ball bearings and roller bearings is that roller bearings are cylindrically shaped while ball bearings are spherically shaped. Inside the moving carriage is screw assembly, consisting of either a ball screw or a lead screw and nut.
To provide linear motion, the nut is threaded onto the non-rotating part of the screw and driven along the threads of the screw in the corresponding direction to the screw’s rotation.
Ball screws are more commonly used because they are better able to provide reduced friction. The typical load capacity for drawer slides ranges from 50 to 100 lbs or more in heavier-duty types.