Motorized linear slides with linear motion capabilities, XY tables are used for material handling, automation equipment such as water-jet cutting machines, machinery building, measurement and more.
XY tables or stages, similar to roller tables, are flat surfaces or platforms mounted onto a linear slide system. The stationary base is attached to the surface through linear rails or guides and bearings.
Ball bearing slides or roller slides are the most common type of slide used for XY tables. The bases can be stacked on top of one another to provide multiple axis movement range and to further add to the variance of the XY table uses.
Intended load capacity, desired or necessary precision and tolerance and durability of the machine should be considered when determining the best type of XY table as one of these factors may be more important than another. The drive mechanism used to drive the linear slide can be chosen based upon the desired smoothness of the operation and the speed at which the process is required to happen.
As with all linear slides, wear and tear is a factor and the bearings may have to be replaced from time to time depending on the nature of the operation. Ball bearings tend to be the most susceptible to wear and so are replaced the most often.
Stainless steel and cast iron are the most commonly used fabrication materials for XY tables and the mechanical components are often formed from bronze or aluminum.
Corrosion is also a factor to be considered, and stainless steel components should be chosen if prolonged exposure to moisture and the potential for rust development exists. Furthermore, in many industrial or manufacturing operations, dust and debris is a factor and this can get into the linear guide system and cause problems within the bearings and rails.
From time to time, the mechanism may need to be disassembled and cleaned out. If a linear system is left with debris and dust in its bearing systems, it may increase the rate of deterioration of the machine as a whole and it is important to protect the bearings.
Apart from occasional linear slide cleaning and bearing replacements, XY tables tend to be a low maintenance machinery option and are a cost-effective operating system component.