A Cheap Compact Linear Slide

<$10. <10μm repeatable. >10kg capacity. Laser-cut 1/8" hardboard. For 100mm x 6mm rod, but semi-parametric. Handwheel or stepper drive. CAD.

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This very low cost linear slide design does most of the work of my “Minamil” project - a “minimal CNC mill”. I hope this rendition of a single isolated unit will serve two purposes:

• Share this idea as a concrete, ready-to-use example

• Isolate and simplify the hard part of describing how to make a Minamil-like machine

(25 May update: side options)

This very low cost linear slide design does most of the work of my #Minamil project - a “minimal CNC mill”. I hope this rendition of a single isolated unit will serve two purposes:

  • Share this idea as a concrete, ready-to-use example
  • Isolate and simplify the hard part of describing how to make a Minamil-like machine

Maybe you can use this to reduce the entry cost of some other project!

Video showing load carrying capacity and repeatability (>10 kg, <10 μm):

If you want to try one of these (or three) for yourself, check out detailed build instructions over at Instructables.

The CAD model is configurable for:

  • material thickness
  • handwheel or stepper drive
  • driving/driven side
  • application option, selectable for each side:

A couple of example configurations:

handwheel drive • heavy load configuration

stepper motor drive • fixed point-of-action configuration

The moving load/fixed PoI distinction illustrated:

Where this comes from, and i̶s̶ slowly g̶e̶t̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ got back to:

#Minamil: a minimal CNC mill. And friends. 

But projects can include instructions...

Why send traffic elsewhere instead of writing instructions here in sunny HaD? Because the longish 'ible was a mess until it was done and I didn't find how to save unpublished instructions-in-progress here.

  • Would you like tabs with that?

    Paul McClay05/25/2021 at 09:05 0 comments

    This shift in concept of application accidentally slid in while working on the motivating application for this project.

    The concept in my head from the start had been to model an internally configurable, externally featureless slide as a generic reusable component. For use by carving up the side plates, either literally with tools or in CAD or vector drawing to adapt the part for an application before before making it in the first place.

    While working the application side of this idea -- the proverbial eating my own dogfood -- I eventually got the clue that a useless default defaults to useless when the universe of applications grows beyond contemplating how it might be applied. Derp.  ("Plain" is close to useless because there's nearly no clearance on the inside of the plate for anything like a screwhead -- and I disparage hot glue/epoxy/etc enough to not want to eat that crow)

    So it makes sense to provide at least one way to do something.

    The "Stacking (simple)" side-cuts were half a nod at that after I stopped trying to keep the slide narrower than the length between the rows of screws at each end. The side cuts allow units to fit together across each other but left attaching them as a problem for later. They also take material away from where bendiness is already a compromise.

    So that's the set-up for the Slow Dawn of the Obvious:

    • attach slide side to something else
    • attach slide side to side of another slide
    • attach something else to slide side

    are a small option space that cover a big fat most of what there is to do. (where "spoil board" is the degenerate case of attaching something to the slide)

    And picking from a short list once for each side evades thinking about how many combinations are actually plausible.

    The clamp for a specific rotary tool breaks from the idea of general utility, but a uniform clamp/slide interface teases the possibility of a more general/adaptable clamp or general way to roll your own specific clamp.

    CAD & 'ible updated (the 'ible still needs some finishing up re rigging and using the clamp - as of writing this)

  • Build instructions that I don't already plan to re-do. !.

    Paul McClay04/23/2021 at 07:34 0 comments

    Ok, I've managed to finish re-writing an Instructable without already having the next necessary re-write in mind. Yay!

    Build yer own! Lemme know how it goes!

    The last couple of logs included:

     [Update: but the 'ible is the Better Way. (...and I've thought of a futher simplification, I think...)]


    Coming soon: another rev for easier ease of assembly, and [...]

    I rilly wanted to get this done. But writing isn't my thing and this slowed me down for a good long time. Now maybe back to actually doing stuff...

  • Stackable

    Paul McClay04/12/2021 at 20:42 0 comments

    Slides stack easily for 2d.

    Manual slide on top at full extension holds mass cantilevered far off the side of a powered slide. Bottom slide doesn't care.

    Coming soon: ̶a̶n̶o̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶r̶e̶v̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶e̶a̶s̶i̶e̶r̶ ̶e̶a̶s̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶s̶s̶e̶m̶b̶l̶y̶(done), and a refresh of #Minamil: a minimal CNC mill.

  • Stepping out: power slide

    Paul McClay03/19/2021 at 03:30 0 comments

    (update:   ̶̶G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶c̶ ̶ -> less ponderous 'ible)

    The ur-example:

    Handwheel drive was a recent-ish simplification of a generalization of the slide mechanism used in #Minamil: a minimal CNC mill. After talking about but not posting sufficient info to make that reproducible for [some number of] months, I started this project when I had enough [i.e. too much] written about building a slide with handwheel drive, leaving stepper drive as a to-do.

    The point: now the ̶d̶i̶y̶ ̶d̶o̶c̶ ̶ includes stepper drive. [Update: but the 'ible is the Better Way. (...and I've thought of a futher simplification, I think...)]  

    motor needs tweaks

    paperclip needs tweaks

    backlash adjuster (#Minamil demonstrates usefully small backlash)

    You could probably figure out much of that yourself, but expecting anyone to pull the spring out of thin air seemed unreasonable.

    Yay (for me -- I struggle with the writing-up part of any project -- on the rare occasion that I  actually undertake to do so) for a milestone.

  • Impending simplification

    Paul McClay03/19/2021 at 02:04 0 comments

    While writing up "details" for this project and its "silly long" instructions doc, I added:

    ...I've just thought of an easier-to-describe assembly sequence that might work. It might cost some flexibility for post-assembly tinkering, but maybe that's a good trade for nearly everyone.

    And then I went and tried that. Fail. But failing lead to another idea that worked. So hopefully the "Assembly" doc will get thinner "soon".

    (removed that bit from the "details")

View all 5 project logs

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dearuserhron wrote 05/25/2021 at 10:22 point

Nice thing. I like the three-point fixture. But it will be less robust when full extended.

I have a small coordinate table from china, and it has a backlash of 0.5 mm for each axis. I was thinking to implement weak force that will slide working surface to the side to compensate the backlash.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Paul McClay wrote 05/25/2021 at 16:52 point


Yes, strength definitely varies with position and that requires some thinking about how to orient and load a slide. Here's an illustration:

It was a happy surprise that built examples turned out much more rigid at full extension than I expected! They get weaker of course but not nearly as bad as expected.

If your coordinate table is a common item, maybe people have already written some ideas for improving it?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ahron Wayne wrote 04/17/2021 at 08:09 point

the world can always use more linear motion! nice and smooth and strong!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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