I'm wondering what the technical name is for this kind of stepper-motorized arrangement (a positioning system? an XY table?)?

enter image description here

What is it typically used for?

It appears to have two steppers as opposed to generic DC motors, so it's presumably for precision work, and I'm trying to see if it would be appropriate for my (experimental biology-related) application.

The unstable kind of two-axis arrangement I suppose would make it too wobbly for something like CNC-machining, but perhaps might work well for scientific experiments.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If it were in a context of an optical device, it would probably be called a stage. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2015 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ That xy positioning system or stage you have shown has multiple uses...even light duty CNC.l What are the requirements for your device? $\endgroup$
    – GisMofx
    Oct 12, 2015 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ So, during a manufacturing process there are two possibilities: - The workpiece is moving and the machine is fixed in place. EG (CNC) - The workpiece is fixed and the machine is moving. EG (SMT) $\endgroup$
    – Jorgos
    Oct 12, 2015 at 3:49
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The real questions are if it is stiff enough for your application, if it will vibrate when moved at certain speeds, and if the screws suffer from backlash whereby the slides don't move for a short distance when the motors reverse direction and the contact switches from one side of the thread grove to the other. Depending on your needs any of these may or may not be an issue. Often you can overcome them with programming, for example always approaching locations with movement in the same direction, and backing up more than the backlash distance any time you must change direction. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Stratton
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:29

3 Answers 3


This would definitely fit under any of the following names:

  1. XY Table
  2. 2D Positioner
  3. XY Stage
  4. XY Positioner

Well that part's manufacturer calls it a "Precision XY Motorized Linear Stage".

The terminology is not hard and fast, though. I've also heard those called "XY tables".

I personally recommend that we only call them "tables" if they either:

  • Have a relatively large platform, EG:
    "large" table

  • Or the piggyback actuator is adequately supported. EG:
    supported table

  • $\begingroup$ Why are you "proposing" terminology on some a) small website, b) website that does not involve itself in the production or marketing of said thing, c) and as an individual who has little to no role in said things. $\endgroup$
    – Nick T
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @NickT, Seriously?! Softened the verbiage, kindly remove your downvote. BTW, that was the standard at a company I used to work for. $\endgroup$
    – Brock Adams
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ @NickT - the referenced website does seem to picture the exact item being asked about. The right thing to do here is to close the question itself since it is that, more than the answer, which is off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Stratton
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:50

cartesian 2 axis robot

2 axis robot

cartesian coordinate robot

xz axis robot

xz gantry

For your purposes, compare the required precision, the load weight, and the control board and display, pc link, if it uses GCode or some other control.

Note that this kind of cartesian robot system has been popularized by 3d printers and there are masses of fan info's for steppers and gantry's and 3d printer related control displays.


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