Micropositioning Fundamentals
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Micropositioning or Nanopositioning

Although the terms refer to different classes of positioning systems, “nanopositioning” is often used mistakenly to describe micropositioning systems. Micropositioning systems are motor-driven stages with travel ranges of a few millimeters up to a few hundred millimeters. Because the guiding systems in such stages—usually crossed roller bearings—generate frictional forces, their resolution and repeatability are typically limited to 0.1 µm. The guiding system working principle also adds errors that are typically in the micrometer range.

Nanopositioning systems are based on frictionless drive and guiding systems such as piezo actuators and flexures. These systems can achieve resolutions and guiding accuracies down to the sub-nanometer level. For more information, see the “Nanopositioning & Scanning Systems” section.

Series production of micro- and nanopositioning systems places very high demands on the mechanical design, choice of materials and the production and testing methods.

Rules for motion systems with millimeter or submillimeter resolution can usually not be extrapolated to the sub-micron range. Here, new rules apply and accuracy cannot be improved by simply optimizing the individual components (e.g. increasing motor resolution) but requires matching all elements to each other.

PI has more than 30 years experience in development and manufacture of micro- and nanopositioning equipment. The following pages show a variety of micropositioning systems, from servo-motor-driven linear actuators, voice-coil-driven scanners, high-speed ultrasonic piezo linear motors to complex parallel kinematics hexapod systems with 6 degrees of freedom. Nanopositioning systems are presented in the “Nanopositioning & Scanning Systems,” “Active Optics” and “Piezo Actuators” sections.

Testing Equipment

PI’s capabilities include a specially developed, acoustic- and vibration-isolated, 0.1-degree temperature-controlled, sub-nanometer metrology lab. Interferometers, autocollimators, laser vibrometers and coordinate measurement machines (CMMs) are employed in the development, manufacture and quality control of PI products.

Drawings & Images:
F-206 Hexapod under test with an autocollimator
F-206 Hexapod under test with an autocollimator

Coordinate measurement machine  (CMM)
Coordinate measurement machine (CMM)

Zygo laser interferometer
Zygo laser interferometer

Fully isolated nanometrology lab
Fully isolated nanometrology lab

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