Material:Linear Rails

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Linear Rails (Linear Guideways, Bearing Carriages) are machine parts that allow for linear motion among a fixed path. They are commonly used in milling machines, lathes, 3D printers and other industrial machinery. (Deutsch: Profilschienenführung)

Linear Rails offer many advantages to other linear guides such as Aluminium V-Slot rollers or smooth rods, namely their precision, rigidity and longevity. Advantages like these come at a cost since manufacturing linear rails requires extensive work with hard steels to absolute percision. This means that if you want to use liear rails in your next project make sure you have the budget required.

Sourcing Linear Rails

HIWIN

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HIWIN Rails

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HIWIN are a huge industry supplier of various linear motion parts. Their products are of high quality and reliability, though also quite pricy.

Buying used parts on eBay is a easy way of aquiring them, the rails are overbuilt but many companies swap them after a fixed amount of use. This means you can find a steady supply of well-preserved second hand brand rails at more reasonable prices. This advice also goes for other high-quality rail brands.

You will need to create a account on their site to view their prices.


IGUS

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IGUS Rails

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IGUS linar rails use a self-lubricating plastic to "slide" along their path instead of rolling with little bearing balls like other manufacturers. This makes them silent, almost maintenance-free and affordable but also far less sturdy. A impercise installation will furthermore result in abrasive removal of the lubricating plastic, which degrades the rails percision.

IGUS rails are excellent candidates for 3D Printers, CNC lasers and other low-load applications if you have precise mounting points. The plastic will deform far more easily than the steel roller balls in traditional rails, which is why they aren't well suited for heavy duty machines.

Cheap chinese HIWIN clones

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Clone Rails

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Various online stores on sites such as eBay and Aliexpress offer surprisingly cheap rails, often sold as "MGN12H" that are attempts at cloning HIWIN rails. Buying these rails is quite risky, they may arrive completely locked up with no sign of smooth motion. There is little to no quality control or guarantees involved with these rails, so know what you're getting yourself into.

These can be dissassembled, cleaned, re-lubed and reassembled (but make sure you don't loose any of the tiny rollers!) to improve performance - sometimes by a lot - but the likelyhood of recieving a unsalvagable rail is still relatively high but if you are ready to clean tiny 2mm rollers without loosing any of them or willing to file for a refund you can save quite a bit of money by going with these.