Home » New Way Solves Straightness & Flatness Constraints for Axis

New Way Solves Straightness & Flatness Constraints for Axis


New Way partnered with Axis New England, a firm specializing in robotic and machine automation for the lithography, semiconductor, and precision optics industry. We provided them with a solution built on flat round air bearings to meet the needs of a customer who produces ultra-high format printers, allowing for high speeds and precise positioning.

Axis Strengthens Automation Solutions Using New Way Air Bearings

Automation technology concept for the future.Axis New England (Axis) specializes in machine and robotic automation, an industry pushing the bounds of productivity and precision. Axis is sought out by customers in the precision industry including:

  • Lithography
  • Semiconductor
  • Precision Fiber Optics

Even as far back as 20 years ago, Axis experienced limitations with traditional square rail and cross roller bearings, driving them to find alternative solutions.

Enter New Way®.

Accuracy and repeatability requirements are the name of the game for Axis customers. However, Axis engineers also began receiving increasingly stringent requirements in the areas of:

  • Straightness
  • Flatness
  • Low-Velocity Ripple.

Initially, they explored mechanical bearing solutions like square rail technology, but soon realized they needed to find another solution to remove the friction inherent to these. Axis engineers heard of New Way’s porous technology from another customer and began exploring it as a solution.

The result?

They were an “order of magnitude better in performance and not very difficult to incorporate,” remarks Greg Ellrodt, Senior Systems Engineer at Axis New England.

Solving Straightness and Flatness in a New Way

Automated linear system for soldering iron tips and assembling PCB boards.

Ellrodt recalls the use of New Way products for a customer in the digital printing industry, Electronics for Imaging, Inc. (EFI), a producer of super-wide format printers. Even the slightest variations in print heads and printer mechanics can result in print artifacts distinguishable by the human eye. EFI needed a way to compare various print heads and knew they needed a motion control specialist. EFI hired Axis to develop a high-precision reference system to perform in-house testing.

Given the five micron straightness and planar flatness requirements, Axis knew they “would be limited with a rolling-element bearing,” said Ellrodt. “New Way’s porous media air bearing technology provides consistent, precision performance characteristics that contact bearings just can’t touch.”

Axis engineers recognized the porous media difference. Non-contact motion is accomplished by evenly distributing air across the face of the bearing. The natural permeability of porous carbon ensures uniform pressure across the bearing surface delivering several benefits, including:

  • Precision positioning
  • High speed/accelerations
  • Improved operational efficiency
  • Low-velocity ripple

This Porous Media Technology™ is the critical design feature allowing New Way products to deliver straightness and flatness of motion, ideal for applications like EFI’s test-suite. New Way products are often used in testing and inspection applications, as they require an order of magnitude improvement in performance to ensure quality operation of the end product.

Axis paired a flat round air bearing with a precision TruStone granite guideway in their solution for EFI. New Way’s gimbal-mount design enabled Axis and EFI to make slight adjustments to dial-in the performance to the specifications. By integrating this solution with high-performing controllers and encoders, Axis created a reference system for EFI, delivering better than the five-micron accuracy over a 30” travel length.

Ellrodt notes client feedback like EFI, is “always positive.” Axis uses New Way products on their “highest-end applications” because “they are great to work with and build a great product with exceptional performance.”

In addition to flat round air bearings, Axis has used several other New Way products, including:

Ellrodt knows there can be some hesitation to embark on using unfamiliar technology, but offers the following advice:

“It’s a great product. Use it. You won’t be disappointed.”

Are You Prepared for the Future of Automation?

With history as a guide, the team at Axis knows the demands for precision and productivity will continue for the automation industry. As one of more than 20 worldwide distributors for New Way, Axis offers viable, cost-effective air bearing solutions to customers in need of precision industries.

“New Way is proud of our long-standing relationship with Axis New England. Their expertise in the automation industry, coupled with their knowledge of air bearings, enables them to assist clients with out of the box solutions, exceeding performance expectations and improving operations efficiencies,” remarks Rich Hesse, New Way Technical Sales Manager.

New Way and Axis stand ready with frictionless solutions for the exciting future of automation. For more information on utilizing New Way products in your applications, feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation!

Greg Ellrodt

Senior Systems Engineer, Axis New England

Rich Hesse

New Way Technical Sales Manager

Learn More About the Porous Media Difference