Introduction: DIY Linear Translation Stage

About: Account to share rapid-prototyped scientific devices used in the Harris Lab at Brown Engineering. Our hope is that our posts will serve as accessible launching points for your future applications and designs.…

We built a simple lead screw linear translation stage using 3D printed parts and some purchased components.

Step 1: Materials

Step 2: 3D Printed Parts

The 3D printed parts consist of 3 unique components:

1) Carriage (x1): The carriage translates unidirectionally when the threaded rod is rotated. This carriage contains a housing for a square nut. Alternatively, the carriage could also be directly threaded.

2) Shaft Housing (x2): These are stands that attach to both linear shafts. They also contain ball bearings to allow the central threaded rod to rotate easily.

3) Knob: To allow the central threaded rod to be easily rotated.

The STL files we used to print these components are attached. However, feel free to edit the size tolerance of the holes each hole according to the precision of your 3D printer. I dimensioned the parts such that all components could be easily press fitted (we used a Form 2 resin-based 3D printer).

Step 3:

Press fit a 1/4-20'' nut into the Knob. I found it easier to use a nylon nut.

Step 4:

Place a square nut into its housing on the underside of the carriage. Alternatively, the central hole of the carriage could be directly tapped (1/4-20'').

*I didn't include the square nut in the materials list as a result but one option can be found here: link

Step 5:

Press fit two sleeve bearings into the corresponding holes as depicted in the image above.

Step 6:

Press fit a ball being into the central hole of the shaft housing. Repeat this process twice.

Step 7:

Take the threaded 1/4-20'' rod and thread it through each of the assembled components as depicted in the image above. Note that I also placed a hex nut behind the knob and two hex nuts at each side of the shaft housings.

Step 8:

Finally, slide the two linear shafts through each shaft housing and carriage. The shaft should be tightly fit on each shaft housing.