XY Stages

For linear positioning applications, XY stages are used to position a sample (slides, flow cells, well plates, etc.) being imaged or analyzed under a microscope allowing motion in two degrees of freedom in order to image the entire sample.

We offer many different travels and approaches to XY motion depending on your specific application.

Compact High Performance XY Stages

Compact, high performance XY stages utilize stacked individual axes to create XY motion. Crossed roller bearing stages such as the SmartStage XY and MMX offer better stiffness and repeatability but have limited travel. Alternatively, the MMS series linear guide rail and carriage bearing assembly offers longer travels with slightly less repeatability.

The SmartStage XY linear positioning stage offers high precision and includes an embedded controller inside the stage.

wdt_ID Travel 50 - 200 mm
1 Accuracy ≤ 10 μm
2 Repeatability 0.5 μm
3 Payload up to 6 kg

The MMX™ series miniature linear stage delivers excellent mechanical and servo stiffness with a low profile design.

wdt_ID Travel 25 - 150 mm
1 Accuracy < ± 3 μm
2 Repeatability < ± 0.4 μm
3 Payload 10 kg

The MMS miniature linear XY stage has a low profile, stackable, shuttle style design ideal when longer travel is required.

wdt_ID Travel 200 - 400 mm
1 Accuracy < 15 μm
2 Repeatability 2 μm
3 Payload 12 kg

Open Frame XY Stages

Open frame XY stages have an open aperture that allows for illuminating a sample from one side with the camera, optics, and objective on the other side of the sample. This arrangement is referred to as non-epifluorescence imaging. A typical microscope would have the illumination source below the sample and the camera/detector above the sample, while an inverted microscope has the opposite arrangement with the camera and objective below the stage. Having a clear aperture is helpful as it takes up less space than cantilevering the sample.

The XYMR open frame microscope stage offers exceptional flatness, straightness, and accuracy. Ideal for cell counting and analysis.

wdt_ID Travel 150 mm
1 Accuracy 30 μm TIR
2 Repeatability < ± 1.5 μm
3 Payload 10 kg

The OFL™ series motorized XY microscope stage provides increased travel and load bearing capacity in an open frame XY configuration.

wdt_ID Travel 200 - 635 mm
1 Accuracy 80 μm TIR
2 Repeatability < ± 3 μm
3 Payload 80 kg

The DDM™ series direct drive motorized microscope stage provides quiet motion with the best accuracy and repeatability of the open frame series.

wdt_ID Travel 120 x 80 mm
1 Accuracy 2 μm TIR
2 Repeatability < ± 0.25 μm
3 Payload 1 kg

Monolithic High Load XY Stages

Monolithic style XY stages are used for larger loads and when there is a need to reduce height. The middle plate is both the table of the lower axis as well as the base of the upper axis. By using a monolithic integrated approach, a stiffer overall motion stage design is achieved which allows for a lower overall stack height, which helps minimize Abbe errors getting introduced into the accuracy of the motion.

The XYR™ positioning stage is our most popular linear stage and uses a lead screw for motion. The monolithic integrated XY center makes the table stiff and compact.

wdt_ID Travel 50 - 300 mm
1 Accuracy 15 μm
2 Repeatability < ± 3 μm
3 Payload 175 kg

The XYRB™ series incorporates a ball screw for more precise and repeatable positioning. The encoder option provides high precision.

wdt_ID Travel 50 - 300 mm
1 Accuracy 8 μm TIR
2 Repeatability < ± 1 μm
3 Payload 175 kg

The XY Monolithic positioning stage, is a linear motor stage in a low-profile XY form factor, with physically integrated controller, designed for precision positioning.

wdt_ID Travel 50 - 75 mm
1 Accuracy 12 μm
2 Repeatability .08 μm
3 Payload (kg) 10 kg

Custom Design Capabilities

Dover Motion has more than 25 years of experience working with OEMs to optimize motion for objective focusing, and moving samples on slides, well plates, or flow cells.

Our engineers have developed unique motion control architectures for precision motion specifically tailored to the needs of OEMs developing microscope-based systems and instruments relying on optical imaging as the analytical detection technique. Dover Motion’s novel, patented, SmartStage embedded controls provides key packaging advantages, reduced cabling and cable management requirements, and incredible system value for our clients.

Whether your project requires a customization to a standard product or a completely custom design, we’ll collaborate with your team to ensure to hit even the most challenging design, cost, and schedule targets.

  • Fast Linear Motors
  • Built in controller
  • High Resolution encoder feedback
  • Long travel high speed load / unload stage
  • Precision stepping axis
  • Tip / Tilt to compensate for slide variation
  • Optimized for price/performance
  • Linear Motor high speed stepping axis
  • Screw based indexing and Z lift axes
  • Standard well plate carrier

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Additional Resources


While a number of positioning actuator applications can be addressed with single-axis stages, the majority of customer payloads require motion in two axes, for which we use an XY stage, also called an XY table. In its simplest configuration, an XY stage can be assembled by simply bolting two single-axis stages together. In that case, care must be taken to ensure that the axes are truly orthogonal.

The preferred implementation is to make a true XY stage in which the orthogonality is precision-machined into its component parts. In this type of XY translation stage design, the top of the lower axis serves as the base for the upper axis, in a simple and compact three-piece design. This approach typically reduces the overall height of the XY stage resulting in less Abbe error. In addition, most of our actuators can be mounted in an XYZ configuration for vertical applications.

XY linear stages can be designed with a wide range of guideways including:

  • Ball and pressure plate provide lower cost, but less stiffness
  • Crossed roller guideways offer high stiffness and precision straightness across travel
  • Recirculating profile rails are best for longer travels
  • Air bearings provide the highest precision flatness and straightness

Dover Motion offers various actuation options including:

  • Rotary stepper motor or rotary servo motor driving a lead screw and friction nut for low cost applications
  • Rotary stepper motor or rotary servo motor driving a ball screws for better repeatability
  • Rotary motor driven belts and pulleys where speed and cost is more important than precision
  • Linear motors for the best reliability (non-contact with no wearing elements) and for high precision repeatability

XY linear stages with air bearings and linear motors provide some of the highest levels of performance available. The only assembly more precise is called a planar gantry design.

In a planar gantry system, the front to back axis consists of two individual axes, one on the left and one on the right, just as in the vertical lines of the letter “H.” A third axis runs left to right, as in the horizontal line of the letter “H,” and is driven at each end by the front to back axes. The payload carrier runs left to right along the third axis, but rests on a planar air bearing floating a few microns above a large area planar substrate (typically extremely flat granite). In a planar air bearing gantry stage, Z axis errors, as well as pitch and roll, are completely determined by the flatness of the granite substrate. Yaw can be controlled by fine flexural movements of the two ends of the third axis.

In many applications, an additional Z axis is required. This can either be added atop the XY stage, forming an XYZ stage, or the Z stage can be mounted separately, and control a payload relative to a separate customer part on the XY stage.

We have experience working with a variety of XY stage configurations and pride ourselves on being able to work within our clients’ parameters to help them reach their goals.

Contact us today to learn how Dover Motion can configure the right motion solution for your application.