One of the most primitive examples of roller bearings is a simple set of logs laid along a path for rolling heavy objects. As the object is pulled along the logs, relatively little friction is produced compared with pulling it along a flat surface.
Modern roller bearings operate on the same principles and roller bearings work similarly to ball bearing slides except that the bearings in the carriage are cylinder shaped rather than spherical. In these precision linear bearings, the rollers themselves are kept in place by sitting between v-shaped grooves of the top carriage and base. The stationary base provides the surface for the load to move across and the mobile carriage is able to bear the load to its desired position.
Linear rolling bearings are able to carry heavy loads and still provide low-friction motion. Roller slides tend to be a longer lasting option than ball slides as they distribute the weight of a load along the length of the cylinder, rather than on the point of a sphere, therefore resulting in less surface contact under pressure and less deterioration.
They are a relatively cheap motion device and are easy to manufacture and put into place. Linear motion bearings are used in a wide variety of applications. Industries such as manufacturing, consumer, medical and telecommunications all use roller bearings to aid in processing and operations. Aluminum and stainless steel are the materials commonly used to manufacture roller slide systems as they are durable metals which are able to withstand both the weight of loads and the wear and tear of motion.
Roller systems can be adjusted according to specific application requirements, and the addition of components such as support rails or guide wheels can further ensure the smooth linear motion. Some systems may include covers or bellows to protect against dirt and dust entering the shaft assembly, as well as rail wipers to clean the rails before the rollers are moved over them. Motion locks can also be used to slow or stop linear motion, or to hold a carriage position for a period of time.
The systems will require periodical maintenance however, especially in applications where airborne debris or corrosion may be a factor and with miniature linear bearings. To ensure the smoothest motion possible within the system, the assemblies may have to be opened and cleaned from time to time, as well used with a lubricating substance of sorts.