Air Cushion Linear Translation Stage Provides up to 750mm of Travel

Auburn, MA- PI USA, a premium supplier of in-house designed and manufactured air cushions for precision motion, metrology and automation offers the PIglide A-123 line of high-accuracy, wide-body linear stages. That low profile precision positioning stage equipped with a preloaded air cushion, integrated linear encoder, and employs a cogging-free direct drive linear motor. The combination of these non-contact components results in a motion platform that operates without friction, resulting in outstanding performance, quality and longevity.

​​​​​Image Credit: PI USA

Thanks to the high-power linear motors, the linear translational stages can reach top speeds in just milliseconds, while the high-capacity air cushions can support payloads of up to 60kg (130lbs). The A-123 series features a laterally opposing, cushioned design with actively loaded air cushions that allow installation in any orientation. The A-123 family of wide-body linear translational stages are available with a travel range of 50mm to 750mm, can achieve acceleration of 30m/s², and reach a maximum speed of 1000mm/s. The steps are available with an optional absolute encoder with a sensor resolution of 1nm and can achieve a bidirectional repeatability of 0.1µm and a calibrated position accuracy of 0.3µm.

Motion Controller

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

On-Board Ultra-Fast Scan and Align Algorithms

The ACS-based motion and alignment controllers driving the stage feature embedded ultra-fast scan and alignment routines, including twist and loop scans, and fast uphill gradient search. The embedded sync routine provides higher performance, since communication with the external host computer is not required. Advanced photonic alignment systems can handle quasi-Gaussian profiles, top-hat profiles and other typical optical power distributions.

Air cushion stages are used in precision engineering, testing, and manufacturing applications in fields such as metrology, photonics, and precision scanning in the manufacture of semiconductors or flat panel displays, where extremely precise and accurate movements are required.

How Do Air Cushion Stages Work?

Air bearing stages use air cushions instead of traditional, roller or contact ball bearings, eliminating friction, and allowing smooth, controlled motion with exceptional guiding accuracy.

Advantages of Air Bearing Stages over Mechanical Bearing Stages

There are several advantages to using air cushion stages:

  • Zero wear and maintenance: Air cushions require no maintenance, as there are no mechanical parts to wear or lubricate. This makes them cleanroom compatible and a highly reliable, cost-effective solution for high throughput 24/7 applications.
  • High precision and accuracy: Air cushions have no physical contact with the surface they float on, which means no friction, friction or wear. This enables extremely precise and accurate movement, with positioning resolution down to the nanometer realm.
  • Smooth, vibration-free movement: Since there is no physical contact, air cushion stages are not subjected to the same vibrations and disturbances that affect traditional mechanical stages. This results in a smoother motion with better speed regulation.
  • High speed and acceleration: Air cushions can support very high speeds and accelerations over a virtually unlimited operating time, making them ideal for applications where fast and precise movements are required, such as semiconductor wafer processing and surface profiling.

Overall, air cushion stages offer a variety of benefits that make them ideal for applications requiring extremely precise and accurate movements.

work with you

PI’s in-house engineering solutions have been enabling customers around the world to increase their productivity and technological advantages for 5 decades. With a large foundation of proven motion technologies and methodologies, PI is in a position to quickly modify existing designs or provide a fully customized OEM solution to suit the exact requirements of your application, including fast photonic alignment machines, multi-automation sub-systems. -axis, nanopositioning stages for semiconductor manufacturing, scanning microscopy stages, and piezo transducers/sensors.

About PI

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

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