Tech Tips - Selecting Pneumatic Linear Slides for Automation Projects

sponsored by: 6 Options Options allow the designer to custom tailor the linear slide to suit the application exactly. These include ways to mount tooling, methods for controlling stroke length, shock limiting options, and position sensing options. Sensors are the interface between the linear slide and the electronic controller. Sensing options are numerous, and include reed or Hall Effect switches actuated by a magnetic piston band on the slide’s air cylinder. Many slide models offer a proximity switch option operated by a moving “target” on the slide’s motion. Mechanical snap action switches and air pilot switches, as well as LVDT linear transducers may also be available. Saves time and money Packaged pneumatic linear slides will save costs at every step. Free CAD files are readily available, and can be inserted directly into the design, saving numerous engineering hours. Build time and related costs are reduced when using an off-the- shelf linear slide component. Maintenance and machine repair costs are lowered by the use of standard, rather than custom components. Even items like machine manuals and parts lists are simplified when component assemblies such as linear slides are incorporated into the equipment. Brief linear slide history Powered linear slides can trace their origins to the dawn of the Industrial Age when a lead screw was added to the primitive lathes of the time to power the tool post carriage. Later, mechanical cams were developed to power slides and provide a programmed motion. Wooden gun stocks were mass-produced from a master pattern with special machinery utilizing cam-operated linear slides. Air cylinder and hydraulic slides evolved in the early Twentieth Century. Although these powered slides were reliable and cost- effective, the relay logic control systems available at the time were complicated, trouble-prone, and lacked flexibility. Any change in sequencing required re-design and re-wiring. Today, programmable controllers are used to control the sequencing of air powered linear slides. This leap in technology slide selection - continued