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

1.  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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Improving Accuracy of Long Travel Linear Positioning Stages with Error Mapping

Linear encoders significantly improve the accuracy and repeatability in stepper or servo-motor positioning stages based on lead or ballscrew drives – they remove drivetrain based play, backlash, and screw pitch errors. But even the best linear encoders are not perfectly linear. As long as these linearity errors are repeatable, there is a way to reduce […]

Patterned Force Generation — A Precise Touch in the Time Domain

Computing’s inflection points occur when new user-interface concepts enter the mainstream. The advent of the graphical user interface is one example; the touch interface, now universal on smartphones and tablets, is another. Computing is in the midst of yet another inflection with the advent of voice control, but meanwhile the haptic revolution is still unfolding. […]

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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 eleven subsidiaries, R&D / engineering on 3 continents and total staff of 950+.

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