PIglide Air Bearing Technology

Nanometer Precision, Single- & Multi-Axis Motion

  • Frictionless high-precision positioning
  • Excellent velocity stability 
  • Excellent guiding accuracy up to 5 µrad/100 mm
  • Active yaw control for gantries
  • Direct drive linear & torque motors for smooth, high speed scanning
  • State of the art controls powered by ACS Motion Control

Experience with Air Bearing Technology Matters for OEMs

PI is building on over 200 man-years of in-house air bearing experience and offers comprehensive precision air bearing motion control and positioning products and systems. With 4 decades of experience in piezo nanopositioning systems design and motorized precision positioning equipment, the new air bearing systems capabilities are a natural and logical extension of PI’s precision motion offerings.


Stiction is virtually eliminated, improving resolution capabilities, position repeatability can be obtained within a few fundamental encoder counts. Similar precision can be obtained by piezo flexure guided stages, however over much smaller travel ranges.

Active Yaw Control

Error Correction

On request, PI has implemented an active yaw control algorithm on the dual motor axis of the PIglide HS Planar XY stage. Y axis and Yaw axis have separate control loops for linear and rotational motion control.

  • Better dynamic performance
  • Facilitates simplified error mapping 
  • Decoupled motions – No matrix operations
  • Flexible stage design allows up to 1 degree of theta rotation
  • Used for small alignment motions and error mapping

Error mapping can be performed on:

  • X (cross) axis straightness and yaw
  • Y (dual-motor) axis straightness and yaw
  • XY orthogonality



By combining extremely responsive engineering consultative support and lean manufacturing techniques, PI is able to provide the highest quality customer service. Maximum performance of precision systems is achieved through extensive design and analysis expertise, using equipment built inhouse with proprietary techniques.

Operating Principle

A direct-drive motor and high-resolution encoder can position a moving carriage supported by an air bearing to within nanometers in a linear application or within tenths of arcseconds in rotational applications. The lack of friction and mechanical contact means there is minimal hysteresis or reversal error, making it highly repeatable and ideal for many inspection and manufacturing operations.

Custom Systems

In addition to standard products, PI's air bearing division provides world-class, multi-axis turnkey systems, for metrology and manufacturing applications.

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PIglide Air Bearing Technology

Nanometer Precision, Multi-Axis Motion, Stadard and Custom Design

Version / Date
pdf - 2 MB
White Paper

Air Bearings: When to Use and When to Avoid in Your Motion Application

All Positioning Stages are not Created Equal. Author: Matt Reck, PI

Version / Date
WP4003 2015-09
pdf - 3 MB