Air Bearings are Critical in CMM and Metrology Applications

Air bearings have played a crucial role in the development and construction of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and other metrology tools for decades. Since they are inherently frictionless and highly stable, air bearings play a key role in delivering the precision required in metrology equipment. Performance criteria, such as repeatability and minimized error motions, geometric […]

Sinusoidal Scanning Motion Performance: Air Bearings vs. Mechanical Bearings

Application Description Most of the motion solutions we work on typically require either point-to-point positioning or constant velocity scanning motion. In these applications, customers are usually concerned with accuracy, repeatability, or velocity regulation. One special type of motion that is occasionally required is sinusoidal scanning motion. In these applications, the motion stage is expected to […]

Using Spherical Air Bearings in Satellite Testing

As new satellite programs become more popular, such as NASA’s CubeSat program, the need for satellite test systems is becoming more urgent. NASA has launched more than 30 CubeSats over the last several years, and as of 2015, it has a backlog of more than 50 awaiting launch. The various commercial and academic institutions building […]

Performance of a Large Motorized Rotary Air Bearing Stage for Synchrotron Crystallography

PI recently built a large 300mm diameter rotary air bearing stage for use in a synchrotron beamline test facility. The beamline, when finished, will be used for Macromolecular Crystallography. This stage was designed with the goal of achieving best-possible performance for the following specifications: Stiffness Load capacity Radial runout error motion Velocity smoothness The application […]

Scanning Performance of Air Bearings

1.  Introduction A common application in which an air bearing is specified is scanning. Scanning involves moving either a work-piece or an optic at a constant velocity, while a reading or writing operation takes place. Such operations include printing and image-setting (i.e., writing) and imaging (i.e., reading). While the physical act of writing an image […]

Straightness and Flatness of Air Bearings

1. Introduction When working with air bearings, we often describe the quality of motion as one of the key factors in selecting an air bearing; specifically, the straightness and flatness of travel of linear bearings and stages. Just how straight and flat? What levels of precision are achievable? In this technical note, we will discuss […]

Top 7 Air Bearing Myths

1. Air bearings are expensive. PIglide air bearings with no motors start at under $2k for a simple linear air bearing slide bearings and under $3k for a small rotary bearing. 2. Air bearings are only used for high speed motion. It’s true that air bearings are used in many high speed applications and can […]

Why To Use Air Bearing Stages Over Mechanical Bearings

Most motion applications are perfectly well-served by mechanical bearing guidance; but there are many cases where precision, angular repeatability, and geometric performance must be optimal or where vibration and sub-micron bearing rumble is problematic. An air-bearing stage can help in these situations. An air-bearing stage is a rotary or linear positioner that floats on a […]

“Micropositioning” – Classical Precision Positioning Technologies still Going Strong

Striking the right balance between affordability, accuracy, and reliability Traditional linear and rotary “micropositioning” stages are based on servo and stepper motor-driven leadcrews and ballscrews and mechanical bearings. They are classical components for precision motion control applications, spanning from lab-automation to industrial assembly and inspection. “Micropositioning” got its name from precision levels in the micrometer […]

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About PI

PI (Physik Instrumente) is a leading manufacturer of precision motion control equipment, piezo motors, air bearing stages and hexapod parallel-kinematics for semiconductor applications, photonics, bio-nano-technology and medical engineering. PI has been developing and manufacturing standard & custom precision products with piezoceramic and electromagnetic drives for 4 decades. The company has been ISO 9001 certified since 1994 and provides innovative, high-quality solutions for OEM and research. PI is present worldwide with fifteen subsidiaries, R&D / engineering on 3 continents and total staff of more than 1,000.

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