PIglide Precision Air Bearing Stages, Components, Systems

Air bearings provide advantages over mechanical bearings when vibration-free motion is required, highly constant velocity control is crucial, and when angular repeatability and geometric performance must be optimal. Air bearing stages (linear, rotary, and spherical) replace mechanical contact by a thin air film, avoiding wear, friction, vibration, and hysteresis effects.

Choose from a Product Group below, or scroll to see all Product Groups

Motorized Linear & Rotary Stages

Non-motorized Linear & Rotary Bearings

Accessories

PI Experience Matters for OEMs

PI offers the broadest and deepest portfolio of precision motion technologies. PI’s US operation has extensive experience with the design and manufacture of Air Bearing precision positioning products. PI is building on over 200 man-years of in-house air bearing experience to offer linear, planar XY, and rotary air bearing stages to serve the OEM, industrial, and research markets. PI US also has its own precision grinding facility located in Nashua, NH. The global PI group offers comprehensive precision air bearing motion control and positioning products and systems, which are inherently frictionless, for smooth accurate motion.


By combining extremely responsive engineering support and lean manufacturing techniques, PI is able to provide the highest quality service to its customers. Maximum performance of precision systems is achieved through extensive design and analysis expertise, using in-house built equipment and proprietary techniques.

Custom Systems / ACS Motion Controllers

In addition to a variety of standard air bearings and motorized positioning stages, fully integrated custom-designed multi-axis positioning systems for metrology and machining applications are available from PI’s US design and engineering team. ACS (part of the PI group) motion controllers are our primary controllers; we have experience with many other controllers, if the customer prefers a different brand.

For more information on PIglide air bearing technology, download our air bearing catalog.

Read detailed air bearing application examples >

Motorized Linear Air Bearing Stages: PIglide Series

These stages use ironless cog-free 3-phase linear motors or voice coil motors, integral optical linear encoders and non-contact fully preloaded air bearings. Some models come with a choice of sine/cosine, A/B and absolute BISS encoders.

The PIglide MB air bearing stage is linear servo motor driven with fully preloaded air bearings and an integral optical linear encoder. This stage offers ultra-precision in a miniature package. The combination of non-contact components results in a frictionless motion platform that offers the highest performance, quality, and life. This stage is ideally suited for many high precision applications, such as metrology, photonics alignment, optics positioning, and scanning. The non-contact design also makes these stages ideal for cleanroom applications. There are no moving electrical cables to manage. The air bearing offers a locking design for the ultimate in position stability.
Show more

A-141 Miniature Air Bearing Stage

Ultra-Compact Air Bearing Stage

  • 40mm travel
  • 3.5kg load
  • 20nm resolution
  • 57x83mm table; 38mm height
  • 0.25m/sec max. velocity
  • 0.35g max. acceleration
	PIglide LC air bearing positioning stages are linear servo motor driven with fully preloaded air bearings and optical linear encoders. The combination of these non-contact components results in a frictionless motion platform that offers the highest performance, quality and life. These stages are ideally suited for many high precision applications, such as metrology, photonics alignment, semiconductor, flat panel display and precision scanning applications. The non-contact design also makes these stages ideal for cleanroom applications.
Show more

A-110 PIglide Air Bearing Stage

Affordable Design, Travel to 16”

  • 2/4/8/12/16” travel
  • 10kg load
  • 1nm resolution, abs/enc option
  • 160x200mm table; 60mm height
  • 1m/sec max. velocity
  • 3g max. acceleration
The PIglide AT1 series of compact stages are linear servo motor driven with fully preloaded air bearings and an integral optical linear encoder. The combination of these non-contact components results in a frictionless motion platform that offers the highest performance, quality and life. These stages are ideally suited for many high precision applications, such as metrology, photonics alignment, semiconductor inspection, flat panel display, laser machining, and precision scanning applications. The non-contact design also makes these stages ideal for cleanroom applications. A high-force linear motor can drive the stage to top speed within a few milliseconds. The dovetail preloaded air bearing design in this model will support normal, vertical, and side-mounted orientation.
Show more

A-121 Piglide Air Bearing Stage

Travel to 14”

  • 2/4/6/10/14” travel
  • 10kg load
  • 1nm resolution, abs/enc option
  • 115x115mm table; 60mm height
  • 1m/sec max. velocity
  • 2g max. acceleration
The PIglide AT3 series of stages are linear servo motor driven with fully preloaded air bearings and an integral optical linear encoder. The combination of these non-contact components results in a frictionless motion platform that offers the highest performance, quality, and life. These stages are ideally suited for many high precision applications, such as metrology, photonics alignment, semiconductor inspection, flat panel display, laser machining, and precision scanning applications. The non-contact design also makes these stages ideal for cleanroom applications. A high-force linear motor can drive the stage to top speed within a few milliseconds, and the large capacity bearings can support payloads up to 35 kg. The laterally opposed, actively preloaded air bearing design in this model will support normal, vertical, and side-mounted orientations.
Show more

A-123 PIglide Air Bearing Stage

Large, Travel to 30”

  • 2/4/6/10/14/20/30” travel
  • 10kg load
  • 1nm resolution, abs/enc option
  • 210x210mm table; 85mm height
  • 1m/sec max. velocity
  • 3g max. acceleration
PIglide VC air bearing positioning stages are voice coil driven with fully preloaded air bearings and optical linear encoders. These stages are ideally suited for many high precision applications where long travels are not required, such as autofocus and scanning applications. The non-contact design also makes these stages ideal for cleanroom applications. Optional bellows protect the bearing from contamination. Low moving mass means high accelerations and fast turnaround times.
Show more

A-131 Voice Coil Positioner

For Fast Scanning/Autofocus

  • 1” travel
  • Optional bellows
  • 1nm resolution
  • 8g max. acceleration

Motorized XY Air Bearing Stages

Planar multi-axis air bearing stages provide additional advantages compared to mechanical bearing stages. Due to one common base for the X and Y axes torque and bending moments do not exist and will not influence the geometric performance (straightness, flatness) of the XY motion.  The A322 three motor stage incorporates active yaw control using three motors and a flexural coupling element. In addition to linear motions in the X and Y axis, a small amount of rotational motion in theta Z is possible.

The PIglide HS planar air-bearing stage has been designed to maximize throughput while providing the ultimate level of precision. This stage is ideal for wafer inspection and scribing applications, as well as other ultra-precision motion applications such as flat panel inspection.  The cross-beam mounts to the Y axis via a highly engineered flexural coupling that provides yaw-compliance without sacrificing system stiffness. The gantry axis is a dual air-bearing design that incorporates dual linear motors and dual linear encoders. Ironless linear motors provide smooth motion and no cogging or attractive forces. Both incremental and absolute encoder options are available. The PIglide HS incorporates three high-accuracy linear encoders, one for the bridge axis and two for the gantry axis.   The PIglide HS is coupled with industry-leading digital controls that offer superior servo update rates (up to 5 kHz), advanced control algorithms to improve dynamic performance and error compensation, and a wide suite of software development tools.
Show more

A-322 Planar Air Bearing Stage

3-Motor Design, Granite Base

  • 500x1000mm max. travel
  • 15kg load
  • 1nm resolution
  • Active yaw control flex coupling
  • Dynamic error mapping
  • 1m/sec / 1g max. acceleration
The PIglide IS planar XY air-bearing stage is a low profile, high precision alternative to stacked XY stages. The fully preloaded air bearing puck floats in both X and Y directions on a common base, providing smooth, frictionless motion. Ideal for inspection, laser marking, microscopy, scanning, and other precision motion applications. The efficient, compact design saves space in tight machine designs. Ironless linear motors provide smooth motion with no cogging or attractive forces. Optical linear encoders provide position feedback information down to 1nm, depending on interpolation.   The PIglide IS can be coupled with a variety of industry-leading digital controls and drives that offer advanced algorithms to improve dynamic performance and error compensation and a wide suite of software development tools.
Show more

A-311 Planar Air Bearing Stage

Compact, Affordable, Al Base

  • 2x2” to 8x8” travel
  • 15kg load
  • 1nm resolution
  • Light weight, AL base
  • Dynamic error mapping
  • 2m/sec / 2.7g max. acceleration
  • Various travel ranges
  • 10kg load
  • 1nm resolution
  • Dynamic error mapping

Motorized Rotary Air Bearing Stages

A-621, A-623, A-624, A-627 PIglide RM motorized rotary air bearing stages can be used in any orientation, while the low profile series of A-635/A-637 stages are designed for horizontal use. Piglide rotary stages feature high performance, low-cogging frameless slotless torque motors, and optical encoders. Various options can be combined to create a solution ideal for point-to-point indexing or constant velocity scanning. Applications include optical alignment, metrology, inspection, calibration, and scanning. These stages offer superior runout, flatness, and wobble performance. Since they are completely frictionless, they exhibit no breakaway “stiction” or drag friction during operation. They are ideal for use in cleanrooms, require no maintenance or lubrication, and have unlimited life.

The PIglide RM series of motorized rotary air bearing stages are a complete positioning solution designed for accuracy, precision, high stiffness, and ease of use. They can be used in any orientation. These stages feature high performance, low-cogging frameless slotless torque motors, and optical encoders. Various options can be combined to create a solution ideal for point-to-point indexing or constant velocity scanning. Applications include optical alignment, metrology, inspection, calibration, and scanning. The RM stages offer superior runout, flatness, and wobble performance. Since they are completely frictionless, they exhibit no breakaway “stiction” or drag friction during operation. They are ideal for use in cleanrooms, require no maintenance or lubrication, and have unlimited life.
Show more

A-621 - A-627 PIglide Rotary Stages

Direct Drive, High Load

  • 2/4/6/12” table diameter
  • 13 to 420kg load
  • 0.008µrad max. resolution
  • 40 to 100nm flatness
  • 500 to 2500 RPM max.
A-635/37 PIglide Rotary Stages
Show more

A-635/37 PIglide Rotary Stages

Low Profile, Large Diameter

  • 8/12” table diameter
  • 20/50kg load
  • 0.03µrad max. resolution
  • <100nm eccentricity & flatness
  • 500  RPM max.
  • Self-locking option at rest

Controllers for Motorized Air Bearing Stages

These high performance controllers feature state of the art ACS SPiiPlusEC motion control modules and EtherCAT® master, and includes ServoBoost™ for up to eight axes of motion. ServoBoost™ provides better, more consistent servo performance that is insensitive to noise or (load) changes in the system.

This series of motion controllers from PI offers a completely integrated electronics solution, with controller, drives, and power supplies packaged together. The A-81x is in a compact 19-inch rack-mount enclosure for 1, 2, or 4 axes of motion, while the slightly larger A-82x is capable of controlling 4, 6, or 8 axes. These controllers are designed and optimized to work with the PIglide line of air bearing stages which feature direct drive linear and rotary servo motors and high resolution encoders.
Show more

A-824/6/8 PIglide Motion Controller

High Power: 4, 6 & 8 Motion Axes

  • Fully integrated closed-loop servo, amplifier module & power supplies
  • 2000 W continuous, 3900 W peak
  • 3-Phase BLDC / voice coil / DC
  • Quiet PWM drives
  • Sine/cosine and BiSS-C encoders
  • 20A peak output current/axis
This series of motion controllers from PI offers a completely integrated electronics solution, with controller, drives, and power supplies packaged together. The A-81x is in a compact 19-inch rack-mount enclosure for 1, 2, or 4 axes of motion, while the slightly larger A-82x is capable of controlling 4, 6, or 8 axes. These controllers are designed and optimized to work with the PIglide line of air bearing stages which feature direct drive linear and rotary servo motors and high resolution encoders.
Show more

A-811/2/4 PIglide Motion Controller

Compact: 1, 2 & 4 Motion Axes

  • Fully integrated closed-loop servo, amplifier module & power supplies
  • 600W power supply
  • 3-phase BLDC / voice coil / DC
  • Quiet PWM drives
  • Sine/cosine and BiSS-C encoders
  • 10A Peak output current/axis

Linear / Rotary / Spherical Air Bearings (non-motorized)

For applications that require smooth, precise, linear motion, the PIglide RB series linear air bearings are right for you. These bearings can easily replace ball bearing and crossed roller bearing slides, and are simple to integrate and use.   They offer better straightness, angular deviation, and repeatability than ball bearing slides, especially for travel lengths over 4". In addition, because air bearings are inherently frictionless, they do not exhibit breakaway or running friction, even under their maximum loading. The totally noncontact, clean nature of air bearings means that they are virtually maintenance free and their accuracy won't degrade over time due to wear.
Show more

A-101 - A-109 Linear Air Bearings

Non Motorized Linear Slides

  • 50 to 1000mm range
  • 9 table sizes: 50x50 to 300x300mm
  • 13 to 760kg vertical load
  • 7.5 to 21kg lateral load
  • Excellent straightness/flatness
he PIglide RT series of non-motorized passive rotary air bearings are designed for accuracy, precision, high stiffness, and ease of use. They can be used in any orientation and are easy to integrate with motors and encoders for complete positioning solutions. Applications include optical alignment, metrology, inspection, calibration, and scanning. The RT series bearings offer superior runout, flatness, and wobble performance. Since they are completely frictionless, they exhibit no breakaway “stiction” o r drag friction during operation. They are ideal for use in cleanrooms, require no maintenance or lubrication, and have unlimited life.   An optional high resolution optical encoder can be added to allow precision table angle recording during manual operation. Applications include parts inspection, optical alignment and drag torque measurement.
Show more

A-601 – A-607 Rotary Air Bearings

Non Motorized, Encoder Options

  • Ideal for optics testing
  • 2/3/4/6/8/12” table diameter
  • 13 to 420kg axial load
  • 5 to 270kg radial load
  • 75 to 300nm eccentricity
  • Optional high resolution encoder
The PIglide HB series spherical air bearing enables unique positioning and simulation applications in both research and industrial fields. These bearings provide excellent load capacity and stiffness while allowing three axes of inherently frictionless rotational motion. Commonly used for zero-g satellite research, spherical bearings are also used in systems for precision chip bonding and optical alignment. Extremely rigid spindles can be made using a spherical bearing at each end of the spindle shaft. This arrangement also allows precision alignment of the spindle shaft on the fly by moving one spherical bearing relative to the other.
Show more

A-651 - A-657 Spherical Air Bearings

3 Degrees of Freedom

  • Ideal for zero gravity simulation
  • 2/3/4/6/8/10/12” sphere diameter
  • 15 to 635kg load
  • ±45 degrees rotation range
The PIglide MTT series of manual alignment tabletops can manually adjust a payload mounted to a rotary air bearing in four degrees of freedom, allowing alignment of the payload to the bearing’s axis of rotation. Adjustments can be made in two linear orthogonal directions (X and Y) and in two angular directions (tip and tilt).   The tabletop surface is made from durable, wear- resistant stainless-steel. This accessory is ideal for metrology, roundness measurement, and part gauging applications.
Show more

A-60x.MTT Manual X-Y-Tilt Platform

Add-On For Rotary Stage

  • Ideal for optics testing
  • 4 degrees of freedom: X, Y, θX, θY
  • Manual operation
  • Travel to ±3mm,  ±1.25°
  • 3/4/6/8/10” table diameter
  • Direct mount on A-60x / A-62x
PI’s line of flat pad circular air bearings is designed for use in any application where frictionless, accurate linear or planar motion is required. The modular nature of these bearings allows the user to build their own motion system. Multiple bearings can be combined to increase load capacity or to create multi-axis motion platforms. Air bearings are wear-free and ideal for clean environments. Air bearings do not exhibit any breakaway or running friction, regardless of payload.
Show more

A-411 Flat Pad Air Bearings

Frictionless Linear / Planar Motion

  • 25 to 300mm diameter
  • 8 to 1500kg load
  • 17 to 860N/µm stiffness

Accessories for PIglide Air Bearing Products

A-65x.PED Pedestal
Show more

A-65x.PED Pedestal

For Spherical Air Bearings

  • Works with A-651 to A-657
  • Ideal for satellite control and simulation of weightlessness
Air supplied for air bearing stages must be clean, dry, and oil-free for long-term reliability and proper component operation. Contaminants in the air can cause a reduction in stiffness and load capacity, an increase in friction, and potential bearing damage. Available in 2 models, PI’s cost effective air preparation kits are a simple way to clean any air supply, with multi-stage filtration, pressure regulation, semi-automatic drains, and an optional pressure switch.
Show more

A-80x PIglide Preparation Kits

Pressure Control & Air Filtration

  • Cleans & filters compressed air
  • Controls the supply pressure
  • Optional pressure switch
  • Recommended for all PIglide products
  • Customized adaptations
A-10x Mounting Feet
Show more

A-10x Mounting Feet

For PIglide Linear Air Bearings

  • For A-101 - A-109 linear air bearings
  • Hardcoat aluminum
The PIglide MTT series of manual alignment tabletops can manually adjust a payload mounted to a rotary air bearing in four degrees of freedom, allowing alignment of the payload to the bearing’s axis of rotation. Adjustments can be made in two linear orthogonal directions (X and Y) and in two angular directions (tip and tilt).   The tabletop surface is made from durable, wear- resistant stainless-steel. This accessory is ideal for metrology, roundness measurement, and part gauging applications.
Show more

A-60x.MTT Manual X-Y-Tilt Platform

Add-On For Rotary Stage

  • Ideal for optics testing
  • 4 degrees of freedom: X, Y, θX, θY
  • Manual operation
  • Travel to ±3mm,  ±1.25°
  • 3/4/6/8/10” table diameter
  • Direct mount on A-60x / A-62x

Application Examples of Air Bearings, Stages and Systems

PI's air bearing products serve the needs of a wide variety of applications and industries. Below are examples of diverse problems that were solved with PI products.


Gauging

PI air bearing products can be used to build metrology systems for roundness, flatness, surface profile, or thickness measurements. When precision manufactured parts need to be measured to the tightest tolerances in aerospace, aircraft, automotive, ball bearings, infrared and precision optics, semiconductors, or turbines, contact a PI engineer to help design your system.

View Products


Research

Contact a PI engineer to discuss research and development applications. PI's broad range of positioning and control products can be integrated into almost any configuration imaginable to help reach the next breakthrough.

View Products


Flat Panel Display Test & Inspection

As flat panel displays (FPDs) continue to grow in size and improve image resolution, the demands on test and inspection equipment continue to become more challenging. PI's planar air bearing stages and gantries can be customized to meet incredibly tight precision specifications over very long travels.

View Products


Beamline Positioning

PI offers sophisticated equipment for high-end scientific research in large-scale synchrotron and accelerator research facilities. Linear and rotary air bearing stages are used to position sensors and instrumentation in various beamline applications, including tomography and holography, micro-CT positioning, sample adjustment, microscopy, and X-Ray scanning.

View Products


Large Format Digital Printing

Digital printing demands fast, accurate motion with precise velocity control and very low angular motion errors. PI's long travel linear air bearings are the key to leading manufacturer's digital print to film high resolution printer setters. Lightweight bearings deliver over one meter of travel with a straightness accuracies as low as 3 µm. The system achieves excellent velocity stability, resulting in exceptional print quality.

View Products


Optical Grinding

Optical grinding requires extremely precise and smooth motion in order to achieve demanding tolerances for surface finish. When leading optical manufacturers need a rotary bearing with run-out and flatness errors less than 0.1 µm for integration into their custom grinding machine, PI provides the solution. In addition to excellent accuracy, the outstanding stiffness of air bearings allows the bearing to withstand forces without a degradation of positioning accuracy and repeatability.

View Products


Tensile Testing

Tensile testing machines apply precise forces, under high loads at zero velocity. Rolling element bearings exhibit significant breakaway friction which causes irregularities in the applied force. PI supplies major test equipment manufacturers with entirely non-contact, linear motor-actuated stage solutions for tensile testing machines. Due to PI's extensive experience with assembling to extremely tight tolerances, complex assemblies are delivered with higher quality and lower cost than manufacturers can achieve in-house.

View Products


Optical Spectrometry

Leading manufacturers of high resolution laboratory spectrometers require custom linear air bearings that provide extremely precise, tilt-free, smooth motion for their scanning mirrors. PI's totally non-contact assemblies deliver the reliability and minimal maintenance today's laboratory users demand.

View Products


Satellite Research

Satellite systems attitude control research often requires simulation of a zero-g environment. PI's spherical air bearings have solved this problem for government and commercial research agencies. PI delivers complete systems, including mounting pedestals and air handling equipment, that support significant loads with a large range of motion.

View Products


Semiconductor Wafer Inspection and Handling

Semiconductor processing equipment must operate with high reliability and minimal particle generation. Unlike traditional bearings, non-contact air bearings deliver exceptional reliability and lifetime with zero maintenance. Operating on a clean air or nitrogen supply, no particles are generated. This is why leading manufacturers of semiconductor processing equipment use PI air bearings for a variety of wafer inspection, handling, and transport applications.

View Products


Automotive Suspension Testing

PI developed custom linear air bearings in response to the need of major auto manufacturers for high load capacity air bearings for vehicle testing. Air bearings support heavy loads without the binding and high friction, typical of traditional bearings. As a result, multiple uses of automotive applications have been found, such as suspension testing and racecar suspension tuning.

View Products


Micro-Machining

Micro-machining and nano-manufacturing require ultra-precision, smooth motion, high stiffness, and dynamic motion. An air bearing motion system combines all these aspects. Combine linear motion with a voice-coil stage for a fast-tool servo system, or add a spindle for machining applications. Optional bellows covers can be added to protect the stages from dust and debris.

View Products