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MOTION DESIGN GUIDE

SPECIFYING LINEAR BEARINGS

ACCURACY • LIFE • PRELOAD

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SPECIFYING LINEAR BEARINGS

Linear bearings include mechanical components that allows relative motion between two surfaces — with one surface supporting the other and minimum friction between the two. The two basic types of linear guides include: 

  • Plain linear bearings — in more casual contexts, sometimes called guide rods 
  • Rolling-element linear bearings — in more casual contexts, sometimes called ball slides

These two linear-motion options have similar functions but vastly different design and performance characteristics. 


In this Design Guide, the editors of Design World build on the information presented in previous Design Guides and explain the parameters employed to properly specify linear bearings — especially those relating to accuracy, life, and preload. Such values communicate the performance and capabilities of linear bearings for optimized sizing, selection, and installation. Look for deep dives on crossed-roller slides, linear bushings, and ball splines in other Design Guide installments.

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