At Hannover Messe 2017, igus presented 166 new products for motion – from printed plastic gear wheels with an outstanding service life to a bionically inspired strain relief system for cables. In a live presentation, the motion plastics specialist showed how users of its plastics can increase service life, lower costs, reduce procurement and assembly times and enhance the productivity of equipment with intelligent igus products. In 2016, igus increased sales by 7.4 per cent and is now planning the start of construction of a new factory building this year.
Never before have so many motion plastics been used in moving applications. In 2016, igus produced 1.2 billion plastic parts in Cologne and exported them all over the world, while also providing cables, drive technology, accessories and offering services such as harnessing. Last year, the company’s sales grew by 7.4 per cent to 592 million euros. Out of the total sales, 54 per cent was achieved in Europe, 28 per cent in Asia and 18 per cent in America. In the same period, the number of employees worldwide increased to 3,180. “In 2017, we also have a growth strategy and are planning the start of construction of a new factory building this year. In an area of 22,000 square metres, new space for production, storage and offices will be created in Cologne Porz-Lind”, says Frank Blase, Chief Executive Officer of igus GmbH.
Costs down, service life up!
The aim of all motion plastics is to lower costs and increase service life. This is because Tribo polymers continue to have enormous potential in industry. How big this potential is was demonstrated by igus at Hannover Messe with its 166 new products and offers. “We exhibited at Hannover Messe for the first time in 1987”, explains Frank Blase. “30 years later, we are showing that it is easier than ever before to change from metal solutions to plastic, especially in the area of bearing technology.” Compared to its predecessor, the new iglidur G1 bearing all-rounder doubles the service life at a comparable price. As in the case of all bearing products, the service life of a plastic ball bearing can be calculated online, whereby the service life of the lubrication-free bearings is now up to ten times longer than five years ago. Companies can also save money in the area of low-cost automation: assembly robots suitable for use in industry are available now from just 5,000 euros, including control system, and are already in use in igus’ manufacturing facilities. They pay for themselves in a mere four months.
Reducing procurement and assembly times
With the ‘robolink Designer’, users can quickly and easily configure a customised robot arm online, from the first axis to the tool, and can visually simulate its movements as well. “The digitisation of online configuration and simulation processes, as well as of manufacturing and shipping, is in full swing for all products”, says Blase. One example of this is the drylin SHT configurator, which considerably shortens the time needed to select, configure and order a lead screw module. Users are directly shown documentation for the selection, a downloadable 3D view as well as the price and delivery time. How quickly customers can profit from the benefits of motion plastics, however, was shown by igus not only on the Internet but also on site in Hannover. For the first wearing metal part that visitors brought to the booth on any morning of the trade fair, igus printed a tool on the very same day and, in the evening, injection-moulded this part using modern tribomaterial.
On the booth at the same time, igus showed a new SLS material that makes it possible to print gear wheels that are at least six times more resistant to wear than standard materials. Also on the booth, igus demonstrated how assembly times can be considerably reduced as well. A new separator system and a honeycomb-shaped strain relief system in the case of the E4.1L energy chain make this possible. Assembly times can be reduced by up to 80 per cent, an achievement that has been proven in igus’ own harnessing section.
Intelligent products for exceptional reliability
In order to increase machine operating times, igus develops intelligent solutions that prevent unscheduled downtimes. These include the new isense EC.RC (e-chain Run Control), which monitors the operating state of e-chains. At the same time, the icom communications module has been improved; it collects and transfers all the values of the systems in most cases completely wireless. The operating states of all moving e-chains and cables are now monitored by a single icom module. Visitors could experience this live at the Hannover Messe at the igus booth, a booth full of motion.