Mounting a Translation Stage by Its Edge Slots

Mounting a Translation Stage by Its Edge Slots

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Is fast access to all mounting slots on a linear translation stage possible?

When a linear translation stage includes mounting slots at all four corners of the base plate, the position of the top plate usually blocks access to at least two of the mounting slots. A fast way to access all four slots, in pairs, is to retract the micrometer or actuator to expose two of the mounting slots, and then manually push the top plate into an extended position to expose the other two mounting slots. The top plate should then be held in the extended position by tightening the locking screw on the locking plate. This is demonstrated using an XR25P linear translation stage.

Cap screws secure two of four mounting slots of a linear translation stage to a table.
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Figure 2: This perspective provides a view of the rectangular and slotted locking plate attached to the side of the stage opposite the micrometer. The image also shows that the top plate overhangs the two mounting slots at the back of the stage, blocking those slots when the slots at the front of the stage are exposed.  

Using a mounting slot to secure a linear translation stage to an optical table or breadboard.
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Figure 1: When the micrometer is completely retracted, the two mounting slots on one side of the stage are accessible. Each mounting slot accepts a 1/4"-20 (M6) cap screw and washer. The two mounting slots on the other side of the stage are blocked by the top plate. 

Video Clip 1: The procedure for securing an XR25P linear translation stage to an optical table is demonstrated in this video clip.

The locking plate can be used to hold a linear translation stage in the desired position.
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Figure 3: The top plate can be quickly pushed from a retracted position into an extended position, providing access to the other two mounting slots. Tightening the locking plate's screw with a 5/64" (2 mm) hex key will hold the top plate in position. 

Retract the Micrometer to Access Two Slots
The four counterbored mounting slots used to secure these stages to an optical table or breadboard are integrated into the bottom (base) plate of these stages. Centering the top plate (moving world) over the base plate (fixed world) blocks access to all four mounting slots. Different pairs of mounting slots can be accessed when the top plate is retracted or extended.

To quickly access to all four slots, first retract the top plate using the micrometer or other adjuster. This exposes two of the mounting slots and makes it possible to secure or loosen a 1/4"-20 (M6) cap screw and its washer in each slot (Figure 1). As shown in Figure 2, the top plate overhangs and blocks the mounting slots on the other end of the stage in this position.

Push and Lock the Top Plate to Access Other Slots
If the top plate is in a retracted position and the base is held stationary, the top plate can be manually pushed into an extended position against the internal spring force. Do not let go of the top plate. If it is released, the spring force will propel the top plate backwards until it collides with the mechanical stop, which can damage the stage.

Push the top plate just far enough to expose the mounting slots on the back of the base plate, and then tighten the screw in the locking plate (Figure 3) to hold the top plate into position. With the top plate immobilized, 1/4"-20 (M6) screw and washer pairs can be installed in or removed from the newly accessible mounting slots.

Protect the Stage from Damage
When finished, hold the top plate to resist the spring force while loosening the screw in the locking plate. Slowly ease the top plate into its rest position to avoid causing a collision, whose mechanical shock can misalign the stage's components, affect the ball bearings, and introduce angular deviations to the stage's travel.

Watch the Procedure Demonstrated
The procedure is demonstrated in the video clip (Clip 1), and the full video includes additional Insights on translation stages, including the procedure for replacing its adjuster screw with a motorized actuator.

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Date of Last Edit: Sept. 8, 2020

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