World's smallest linear ball bearing suits micro-photonic positioning

Sept. 19, 2017
MPS Micro Precision Systems has produced the smallest linear ball bearing in the world.

For micro-photonic positioning applications in the medical, research, and defense markets, MPS Micro Precision Systems (Biel/Bienne, Switzerland) has extended its product range of ball screws, linear ball bearings, and electromechanical microsystems with the smallest linear ball bearing in the world.

RESOURCE: Search LFW for more ball-bearing positioners

Starting from an extruded steel wire, several days of machining result in sub-millimeter-sized, mirror-finished, nearly perfect stainless steel spheres with a minimum hardness of 58 HRC and sub-micron finish tolerances. These “Grade 3” ballsthe highest quality defined by the ISO 3290/DIN 5401 standardand high-precision execution of the cage and housing reduce friction and eliminate the stick-slip effect.

With an inner diameter of 1.5 mm and outer diameter of 3.0 mm, the linear ball bearing is fitted with four rows of 20 balls each (0.3 mm in diameter) for a total length of 3.9 mm. With a load capacity in the range of 5-8 N, the miniature ball bearing is ideal for linear applications where light loads must be positioned in a highly accurate and repeatable manner.

The company also produces high-precision miniature lens actuators with a 6 mm micromotor, pre-loaded screw-nut system, and linear guideway for eye tomography and cataract operations that require precise focus of a laser beam; for example, finding the zero point with a precision of 1 micron between each measurement.

SOURCE: MPS Micro Precision Systems;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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