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With either round rail or profile rail selection, it's important to choose a type of rail to use before starting the machine component layout. The performance of a linear guide is based upon contact type, rolling element type, inner race geometry and other characteristics such as self-aligning capabilities. It is important to recognize that the options available for each characteristic have performance attributes. Below is a list of considerations to start the conversation. Variables such as dynamic load ratings, preloading and linear guide deflection, resistance and actuation force should be part of your calculations. This analysis is how we go from a functional to an optimal linear motion design.

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What is your load (lbs):  

What is the travel distance (inches) :  

What is the maximum travel speed (in/sec.) :  

Does this guide require end support or continuous support :  

How is the guide oriented :  

How accurate a motion is required :  

What is the nature of the mounting surface (Flatness, rigidity) :  

Describe the operating environment of your application. Contaminants, temperature? Other factors:  

Is smoothness critical to your application? Why :  

Do you have a cost target for your linear guide solution :  

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Many applications can use either round or square rails depending on the machine design. But often, one works better than the other. Such was the case in a hospital bed where the designer started with a square rail for axial movement. But the assembly would bind because it couldn't move freely unless the mounting bolts were loosened to allow some twisting motion. The bed frame simply wasn't rigid enough. The square rail had to be replaced with the self-aligning round rail.

     
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