Linear Slide Bearings

Thomson invented the Linear Ball Bushing® Bearing more than seven decades ago, and we’ve been recognized as the global leader in linear slide bearing technology ever since. We offer the world’s largest selection of state-of-the-art linear bearings and accessories, which have been manufactured to the highest quality standards to meet specific design requirements. Discover which linear components are ideal for your next designs. 

Why choose Thomson linear slide bearings? 


No matter your application requirements, Thomson offers a linear slide bearing to deliver the solution. All families of our linear bearings have been engineered for low friction and smooth, accurate motion. Plus, when used with our popular 60 Case® LinearRace® shafting, Thomson Ball Bushing Bearings last up to 50% longer than the competition. 


Which Thomson linear slide bearing is right for your application? 


Super Smart
Using patented self-aligning, double-track linear bearing technology, which increases the load carrying capacity by six times and increases travel life by 216 times compared to conventional bearings, Thomson Super Smart linear slide bearings can maintain their diametrical fit when installed in housings that are slightly out of round. To minimize installation time and cost, Super Smart bearings can be ordered factory installed in an industry standard single or twin pillow block configuration.

Offering three times the load capacity or 27 times the life of conventional linear bearings, the Super bearings are self-aligning, lightweight and adjustable with a low coefficient of friction. A quick and easy replacement for high-friction plain bearings, Super linear slide bearings feature wear-resistant, engineered-polymer retainers and outer sleeves to reduce inertia and noise in critical, high-speed applications.

Precision Steel
Available in open, closed, extra precision and adjustable versions as well as factory installed in a malleable iron pillow block, durable Precision Steel linear bearings eliminate binding and chatter, making them ideal for replacing plain bearings in harsh and high-temperature applications  

Extremely rigid, MultiTrac linear slide bearings reduce deflection and provide twice the load capacity or eight times the travel life of conventional metric linear bearings. Their patented ball control technology eliminates binding and chatter, which are common with high-friction, plain bearings. 

Boasting more than 20 times the load capacity of a conventional linear bearing, RoundWay linear roller bearings allow designers to optimize system compactness and minimize hardware costs. These bearings combine the high load capacity of hardened and ground steel recirculating rollers with a rigid malleable iron mounting block. The chain-connected rollers allow the RoundWay to travel at extremely high speeds in unforgiving, contaminated environments.

Ideal for washdown or submerged environments, FluoroNyliner linear bearings are self-lubricated with a large contact surface for high performance in high vibration or impact applications. Their simplified, corrosion-resistant design allows them to run in highly contaminated conditions. 

Miniature Instrument
High accuracy and compactness make Miniature Instrument linear slide bearings ideal for small mechanisms or devices that require high repeatability and responsiveness. When replacing high-friction plain bearings, Instrument bearings’ consistently low coefficient of friction eliminates chatter and provides smooth linear performance.  


Square vs. Round: Which Linear Guide is Best for Your Application? 


When specifying linear guides for your applications, there are two types from which to choose: square (profile) guide rail and round guides (shafting). Your application will dictate which type of linear guide should be used. 

Square guide rail is well suited to high-load applications that require good rigidity and high accuracy. These linear guides achieve their performance through the precise grinding of the ball tracks in the rail, which have close conformity to the balls. The classic application for profile rail bearings is in the machine tool industry, where load capacity, rigidity and accuracy are paramount. Round guides offer several advantages of their own, including the ability to run smoothly when mounted to less-than-perfect surfaces or used for vertical movements with heavy loads. 

For a more detailed analysis of choosing square or round linear guides, click here

Choosing Between Closed and Open Linear Ball Bushing Bearings

Preventative Linear Bearing Maintenance

How to Use Adjustable Pillow Blocks to Optimize Precision

Choosing a Thomson Pillow Block

How the Orientation of a Thomson Linear Ball Bushing Bearing Affects its Load Capacity

A Closer Look at Thomson Adjustable Linear Bearings

Mounting Thomson Linear Ball Bushing Bearings

Linear Slide Bearings Training


In 1945 the Ball Bushing bearing was invented by John Thomson Sr. The bushing was the solution to the stick slip problem in the linkage used to change pitch of propeller blades in aircraft. Ball bearings eliminated the stick-slip, binding, and chatter of the plain bearing. Ball re-circulation virtually eliminates wear and provides a constant coefficient of friction as low as 0.001. 

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In a RoundRail linear guide, the outer race is the linear bearing while the inner race is the shaft. In this training section we will be focusing on the linear bearing (outer race). 

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Linear slide bearings offer low friction and good load capacity. They are usually the first option to consider when needing a linear guide. Our Ball Bushing bearing line consists of the following families: 


  • Super Smart Ball Bushing Bearings 

  • Super Ball Bushing Bearings 

  • Precision Steel Ball Bushing Bearings 

  • “A” bearing 

  • MultiTrac (MAM) 

  • Die set 

  • Miniature instrument 

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Pillow blocks are designed to make it easy to mount a ball bushing bearing. They have bolt holes so the block with the bushing inside can be bolted to the mounting surface. When a pillow block is not used the bushing needs to be retained into a bore. The following video discusses several retention possibilities. 

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A few general guidelines to help select from the available lubrication options: 

  • Light loads and high speeds do well with machine oil or low viscosity grease 

  • Medium loads and speeds do well with NLGI 1 or 2 grease 

  • High loads may require a grease with an EP2 additive. The EP is Extreme Pressure and uses special additives to prevent the grease from breaking down under high pressures. This type of grease will give the steel shafts a dull appearance 

  • Thomson LinearLube® is suitable for most industrial applications and is FDA listed 

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