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Air Bearing Linear Translation Stage Provides Travel to 750mm

Auburn, MA – PI USA, a premium supplier of in-house designed and manufactured air bearings for precision motion, metrology and automation offers the PIglide A-123 family of wide-body, high accuracy linear stages. The low-profile precision positioning stages are equipped with preloaded air bearings, integrated linear encoders, and utilize cogging-free, direct-drive linear motors. The combination of these noncontact components produces a motion platform that operates without friction, delivering exceptional performance, quality, and longevity.

​​​​​​Image Credit: PI (Physik Instrumente) LP

Thanks to the high-force linear motor, the linear translation stage can reach peak velocity in mere milliseconds, while the high-capacity air bearings can support payloads of up to 60kg (130lbs). The A-123 series features a laterally opposed bearing design, with actively preloaded air bearings that allow for mounting in any orientation. The A-123 wide-body linear translation stage family is available with travel ranges from 50mm to 750mm, can achieve 30m/s² acceleration, and reach a maximum velocity of 1000mm/s. Stages are available with optional absolute encoders with 1nm sensor resolution and can achieve bidirectional repeatability of 0.1µm and calibrated position accuracy of 0.3µm.

Motion Controllers

ACS-based motion controller with EtherCat connectivity and a comprehensive suite of easy-to-use software packages help customers to quickly integrate the stages into their application environment.

On-Board Ultra-Fast Scan and Align Algorithms

The ACS-based motion and alignment controller that powers the stage features embedded ultra-fast scan and alignment routines, including serpentine and circular scans, as well as a fast hill-climb gradient search. Embedded alignment routines provide higher performance, since communication with an external host computer is not required. The advanced photonics alignment system can handle quasi-gaussian profiles, top-hat profiles, and other typical optical power distributions.

Where are Air Bearing Stages Used?

Air bearing stages are used in precision engineering, test and manufacturing applications in fields such as metrology, photonics, and precision scanning in semiconductor or flat panel display manufacturing, where extremely precise and accurate movement is required.

How Do Air Bearing Stages Work? 

Air bearing stages utilize a cushion of air instead of traditional, contacting roller or ball bearings, eliminating friction, and allowing for smooth, controlled movement with exceptional guiding accuracy.

Advantages of Air Bearing Stages over Mechanical Bearings Stages

There are several advantages to using air bearing stages:

  • Zero wear and maintenance: Air bearings require no maintenance, as there are no mechanical components to wear out or lubricate. This makes them cleanroom compatible and a very reliable and cost-effective solution for high-throughput 24/7 applications.
  • High precision and accuracy: Air bearings have no physical contact with the surface they are floating on, which means there is no friction, stiction, or wear. This allows for extremely precise and accurate movement, with positioning resolutions down to the nanometer realm.
  • Smooth and vibration free motion: Because there is no physical contact, air bearing stages are not subject to the same vibrations and disturbances that affect traditional mechanical stages. This results in smoother motion with better velocity regulation.
  • High speed and acceleration: Air bearings can support very high speeds and accelerations over virtually unlimited operating times, making them ideal for applications that require fast and precise movement, such as semiconductor wafer processing and surface profiling.

Overall, air bearing stages offer a range of benefits that make them ideal for applications that require extremely precise and accurate movement.

Working with You

PI’s in-house engineered solutions have enabled customers around the world to increase their productivity and technological advantage for 5 decades. With a large basis of proven motion technologies and methodologies, PI is in the position to quickly modify existing designs or provide a fully customized OEM solution to fit the exact requirements of your application, including fast photonics alignment engines, multi-axis automation sub-systems, nanopositioning stages for semiconductor manufacturing, microscope scanning stages, and piezo transducers / sensors.

About PI

PI is a privately held, global leading company that designs and manufactures world-class precision motion and automation sub-systems including air bearings, hexapod micro-positioning robots, and piezo drives at locations in North America, Europe, and Asia. The company was founded 5 decades ago and today employs more than 1,500 people worldwide. PI’s customers are leaders in high-tech industries and research labs, in market segments such as photonics, life-sciences, semiconductors, industrial automation and aerospace.


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