CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering

2014 Edition
| Editors: The International Academy for Production Engineering, Luc Laperrière, Gunther Reinhart


Reference work entry



(Engineering) The act of putting a part in a certain place with the right orientation; placing or aligning in the appropriate location one component relatively to another.

Positioning can be done manually or automatically by a manipulation system, e.g., linear or rotation axis, robot, and pick-and-place system.

The term is also commonly used in other contexts, such as marketing and telecommunication, with different meanings.

Theory and Application

Positioning Systems

Positioning is one of the steps of the assembly process, which consists mainly in feeding, manipulating (including grasping, handling, and release), positioning, and joining. It is also a preliminary step for other fabrication processes, such as the positioning of the raw part in a manufacturing machine.

Positioning systems are fundamental in a wide range of fields, such as
  • Optical instrumentation
    • Continuous or raster scanning mirrors

    • Fiber nutation, detector...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ambler AP, Popplestone RJ (1975) Inferring the positions of bodies from specified spatial relationships. Artif Intell 6(2):157–174MathSciNetCrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  2. ASME (2004) Mathematical definition of dimensioning and tolerancing principles (ASME Y14.5.1M-1994). American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, 1994 reaffirmedGoogle Scholar
  3. ASME (2009) Dimensioning and tolerancing (ASME Y14.5-2009). American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. Awang C (2008) Current issues on 3D volumetric positioning accuracy: measurement, compensation and definition. SPIE Proc 7128, Beijing 2008Google Scholar
  5. Bing L, Utpal R (2001) Relative positioning of toleranced polyhedral parts in an assembly. IIE Trans 33:323–336Google Scholar
  6. Chan KW, Liao WH, Shen IY (2008) Precision positioning of hard disk drives using piezoelectric actuators with passive damping. IEEE Trans Mechatron 13(1):147–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fahlbusch S, Mazerolle S, Breguet JM, Steinecker A, Agnus J, Pérez R, Michler J (2005) Nanomanipulation in a scanning electron microscope. J Mater Process Technol 167(2–3):371–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gao W (2005) Precision nanometrology and its applications to precision nanosystems. Int J Precis Eng Manuf. 6(4):14–19Google Scholar
  9. Halevi G, Weill RD (1995) Principles of process planning, a logical approach. Chapman and Hall, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hicks TR, Atherton PD (1998) The nanopositioning book. Moving and measuring to better than a nanometre. Kogan Page Science, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Hollis J, Ralph L (1990) Ultrafast electro-dynamic X, Y and theta positioning stage. U.S. Patent 5153494Google Scholar
  12. Hu J, Zhang Y, Gao H, Li M, Hartmann U (2002) Artificial DNA patterns by mechanical nanomanipulation. Nano Lett 2:55–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Inui M, Miura M, Kimura F (1996) Positioning conditions of parts with tolerances in an assembly. In: Proceedings of the IEEE international conference on robotics and automation, Minneapolis, 1996Google Scholar
  14. ISO 1101 (2004) Geometrical product specifications (GPS) – geometrical tolerancing – tolerances of form, orientation, location and run-out. UNI, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  15. ISO 5458 (1998) Geometrical product specifications (GPS) – geometrical tolerancing – positional tolerancing. UNI, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  16. ISO 5725 (1994) Accuracy of measurement methods and results package. UNI, MilanoGoogle Scholar
  17. Latombe JC, Wilson R, Cazals F (1997) Assembly sequencing with toleranced parts. Comput Aided Design 29(2):159–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lee K, Andrews G (1985) Inference of the position of components in an assembly: part 2. Comput Aided Des 17(1):20–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee CW, Kim SW (1997) An ultraprecision stage for alignment of wafers in advanced microlithography. Precis Eng 21:113–122CrossRefMATHGoogle Scholar
  20. Meadows JD (1995) Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, applications and techniques for use in design, manufacturing, and inspection. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Mick U, Eichhorn V, Wortmann T, Diederichs C, Fatikow S (2010) Combined nanorobotic AFM/SEM system as novel toolbox for automated hybrid analysis and manipulation of nanoscale objects. In Proceedings of the IEEE international conference on robotics and automation, May, Anchorage 2010Google Scholar
  22. Okazaki Y, Asano S, Goto T (1993) Dual-servo mechanical stage for continuous positioning. Int J Jpn Soc Precis Eng 27(2):172–173Google Scholar
  23. Pahk HJ, Lee DS, Park JH (2001) Ultra precision positioning system for servo motor-piezo actuator using the dual servo loop and digital filter implementation. Int J Mach Tools Manuf 41:51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rocheleau DN, Lee K (1987) System for interactive assembly modelling. Comput Aided Des 19(2):65–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Saitou M (2006) Precision positioning device and processing machine using the same. U.S. Patent #7,076,314 B2Google Scholar
  26. Sakuta S, Okawa K, Ueda K (1993) Experimental studies on ultra-precision positioning – an inchworm movement method using fine and coarse positioning. Int J Jpn Soc Precis Eng 27(3):235–240Google Scholar
  27. Sato K (2006) Trend of precision positioning technology. In: symposium series in mechatronics, vol. 2, ABCM, Rio de JaneiroGoogle Scholar
  28. Sato M, Asada K, Wakui S (1996) Precision positioning apparatus. U.S. Patent #5,511,930Google Scholar
  29. Sodhi R, Turner JU (1994a) Towards modelling of assemblies for product design. Comput Aided Des 26(2):85–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sodhi R, Turner JU (1994b) Relative positioning of variational part models for design analysis. Comput Aided Des 26(5):366–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sung WJ, Lee SC, You KH (2010) Ultra-precision positioning using adaptive fuzzy-Kalman filter observer. Precis Eng 34(1):195–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Svoboda O, Bach P, Liotto G, Wang C (2005) Machine tool 3D volumetric positioning error measurement under various thermal conditions. Proc SPIE 6280(2), Urumqi 2005Google Scholar
  33. Tan KK, Dou HF, Tang KZ (2001) Precision motion control system for ultra-precision semiconductor and electronic components manufacturing. In: Proceedings of the 51st electronic components and technology conference, Orlando 2001Google Scholar
  34. Trumper DL (1993) Magnetic positioning device. U.S. Patent 5,196,745Google Scholar
  35. VIM3 (2012) International vocabulary of metrology – basic and general concepts and associated terms, 3rd ed. JCGM 200. Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. Sèvres CedexGoogle Scholar
  36. Whitney DE (2004) Mechanical assemblies: their design, manufacture, and role in product development. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  37. Williams P, Papadakis S, Falvo M, Patel A, Sinclair M, Seeger A, Helser A, Taylor R, Washburn S, Superfine R (2002) Controlled placement of an individual carbon nanotube onto a microelectromechanical structure. Appl Phys Lett 80(14):2574–2576CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© CIRP 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Industrial Technologies and AutomationCNRMilanItaly