I am in the process of selecting a linear rail system for a 5ft x 10ft cnc laser cutter. Delrin polymer rollers on 2 inch square extruded aluminum tube is an economically attractive solution. I have had success with them on a 3d printer, but I am not sure how well they will handle higher speeds (2m/s) and 12hr per day operation.

The environment is reasonably dust free, but not a clean room. I suspect the erosion of the Delrin over time may cause tolerance issues.

What are some successful implementations of delrin or other plastic rollers in an commercial/industrial setting? Will the plastic rollers typically outlive the bearings?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Teflon, delrin, and uhmwpe are the go-to selections for wear resistant polymers. Any particular reason you need polymers? Generally high precision linear motion is done with hardened steel components. They are wear resistant and have elastic modulus about 50 times as high as polymers (200 gpa vs 4 gpa), meaning better dimensional tolerance under changing loading conditions. $\endgroup$
    – wwarriner
    Dec 24, 2015 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ @starrise Perhaps that is the reason I do not see them in use in industry. I think this particular design compensates for that by using more rollers with a lower intended load. Steel on steel would be ideal. I was worried steel rollers on aluminum rail would damage the rail over time. I read this really good paper on that topic that corrects that perception. Still exploring options though. rssb.co.uk/Library/groups-and-committees/… $\endgroup$
    – ericnutsch
    Dec 25, 2015 at 0:00

2 Answers 2


Plastic roller are good for lower load, speed, and accuracy applications, and also FDA requirements.

Steel v roller and rails may work better for your application. These are available at: http://www.mcmaster.com/#v-groove-rails/=10hsfa7 and http://www.mcmaster.com/#6318k61/=10hsgx6 and also from the Dual V company.


Given that you're using extruded aluminium rails polymer rollers are likely to be the best solution as anything harder will likely make the wear rate of the aluminium more of an issue.

To be honest using extruded aluminium for a machine tool is always going to be a cheapest rather than best solution compared to ground steel or cast iron.


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