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e-spools ease PA speaker array manoeuvring in Liverpool University venue

 

Over the last two years the University of Liverpool has run an ambitious £14m [€18m] project to improve functionality and the utilisation of space, and to enhance the overall student experience at the Guild and Reilly Building, which is central to the Liverpool University campus. The project included technical upgrades and refurbishment for three venues - Mountford Hall, the Stanley Theatre and The Courtyard.

 

The largest of these is Mountford Hall, Liverpool’s second-largest concert space with a capacity of 2,300 people which is ideal for live events and conferences. It also has its own bar, which has been moved to a more central and accessible location as part of the refurbishment. The Hall is in heavy, regular use by both day and night. It runs a full programme embracing Students’ Union activities and all genres of music and performance, including the BBC’s ‘Question Time’. This has been presented here as recently as March 2016; the university will host the show here again in June.

 

A significant part of the upgrade budget for the Hall has been invested in a permanent PA and lighting installation. Performers can just ‘plug and play’ while audiences enjoy a high-quality audio-visual experience. Any potential delays and increased costs often arising when performers bring in their own, temporary PA and lighting systems have been managed and minimised.

 

Challenge

 

The new L-Acoustics sound system comprises amplifiers, cabling and suspended (or flying) speakers chosen and set up using acoustic modelling to give optimal clear sound and sonically uniform coverage around the venue. However, some flexibility is required within the fixed installation, to allow for the different audio projection needs of visiting performers. This can be provided by raising and lowering four independent main PA Loudspeaker speaker arrays to achieve the best sound balance for differing performances.

 

Traditionally this speaker manoeuvring was carried out manually – a more labour-intensive procedure that was not only costly and time-consuming but also potentially dangerous as it involved staff working at height and also within the roof void to access cable routes and rigging. On occasions this could also lead to untidiness with the venue, in the form of unsightly trailing speaker cables overhead.

 

 nother solution that has been adopted in many situations is to interconnect the fixed and moveable audio elements through slip rings. These allow flexibility in extending and retracting both electrical signal and power cables, however their operation depends on a break in the conductive paths. This is undesirable in high power, high quality systems such as the Mountford Hall installation because of its adverse effect on both reliability and potentially signal quality.

 

A similar situation existed for the overhead lighting trusses, which also needed to be raised and lowered to rig equipment to suit different event requirements.

 

Solution

Adlib Audio, the sound and lighting designers, suppliers and installers for the entire upgrade project, turned to igus®for a superior alternative. For the speakers, this was delivered in the form of four custom e-chain®and e-spool cable management systems, one for each of the four main speaker arrays. These provided no-break connections between the amplifiers and the speakers, eliminating reliability and signal quality issues. It also meant that speaker raising and lowering became a simple, automated procedure that could be conducted at will prior to rehearsals and sound checks. The delays, costs and health and safety issues associated with calling on extra crew and working at height for manoeuvring were eliminated.

 

The e-spool system is also very compact while being able to carry many cables in a confined space. Its interconnection of the amplifiers and speakers is unique. An e-chain®carrying the cables from the amplifiers is guided by one roller, and always maintained at exactly the correct length and tension by an integrated retaining spring. In the start position, the e-chain®is completely rolled up to save space. The twisterband connects the roll to the shaft block, which acts as the interface to the speaker cables. There is never any tensile load on the cables, while cable droop is eliminated to save space and keep working areas clear.

 

A similarly flexible and robust solution for the lighting trusses was used. Known as ‘zig-zag’ e-chain®, it uses a space-saving and unconventional approach facilitated by the modular design of the e-chain®. When the trusses are at maximum trim height, the collapsed e-chain®is stored in a ‘basket’ above each lighting truss. If the truss is lowered, the e-chain®automatically unfolds. When the truss is raised then the e-chain®is stored automatically into its default position into a basket over the truss.

 

Results

 

Adlib Audio had not used e-chain®or e-spool products previously, but after reviewing the alternatives was convinced they would prove beneficial to the project’s success. The e-spool’s ability to carry a large number of cables, including different types – for power, signal and data - was a significant factor in the decision.

 

“We were able to work closely with the igus®engineers at all times,” commented Roger Kirby, installations director at Adlib Audio. “They attended regular meetings and visits to site, and were always available for advice and support. They also helped us select the best of multiple designs, and spent time in testing the lift and drop actions, chain pitch and chain basket position. This turned out to be time well spent, as everything continues to run excellently. The system looks neat, and can cope with pressure and frequent movement.

 

“Overall we felt that igus®offered us a large catalogue range of high specification items coupled with the knowledge and skills to develop specific solutions for our needs. After this first project, we will definitely consider using the e-spool technology again. From a cabling and reliability point of view it works brilliantly.”

 

 

 

 

Video of the Week – easier industrial 3D printing with iglidur® l150 tribo-filament

 

 

This week’s video of the week introduces the latest tribo-filament material for 3D printing from industrial tribo-polymer specialist, igus®.

Previously, igus® introduced the world’s first structural plastic filament for use in 3D printing. 50 times more wear-resistant than conventional 3D printing materials, it was developed for engineers that need to create structurally robust prototypes or even small batch samples for real-world tests. A number of variants are available to suit different application requirements.

While still offering very good wear-resistance, this new iglidur® l150 variant is even easier to process and print compared with other igus® tribo-filaments. It can be used in any 3D printer for which a nozzle temperature of approximately 250°C can be set with or without a heated printing plate, if an adhesive foil is used

Video of the Week - take a tour through the igus® test lab

 

In this week’s video of the week, we take a tour through the igus® chainflex® test lab in Cologne, the world’s largest facility for testing moving cables.

As part of its commitment to customer success, igus® has operated an extensive test lab for more than 20 years. This state-of-the-art 2750m² facility carries out more than 2 billion test cycles per year. Conducting more than 700 tests simultaneously, four test robots put igus® chainflex® cables and energy chain® carriers through their paces in a series of demanding material tests, including torsion testing and -40ºC cold chamber test stations.

More than 5000 measurement locations are monitored continuously, taking 1.4 million electrical measurements per year.  As well as rigorous and comprehensive testing to igus® standards, customer-specific application testing is also undertaken.  All tests are systematically documented; this exacting process is part of how igus® is able to offer customers a 36-month guarantee on its cables and carriers, giving them the reassurance that their system will deliver a reliable long life.

igus® showcases bearings and cable management systems at Automechanika Birmingham

Automechanika, one of the world's leading exhibitions for the automotive supply chain and aftermarket, is coming to the UK for the very first time. During the show, which runs from 7th – 9th June at Birmingham’s NEC, igus® will be showcasing its innovative, tribopolymer bearing products and cable management systems on its stand (11E22).

“Dedicated to meeting the growing needs of manufacturers and engineers, we offer a huge range of cost-effective, lightweight and maintenance-free solutions for a variety of automotive applications,” says Matthew Aldridge, managing director, igus®.

With 40 standard iglidur® materials, ranging from iglidur® X for corrosive environments to iglidur® J260 for plastic shafts, igus® offers the world’s broadest range of friction-optimised polymer plain bearings. In addition to low weight, benefits include wear resistance, low noise, corrosion resistance and cost. Areas of application include windscreen wipers, convertible roof frames, door hinges, seats, chassis, the steering system, gearbox, and pedal box, or even within the engine compartment. Today, over 200 million iglidur® plastic bearings are installed in cars worldwide.

With increasing pressure on car manufacturers to save as much weight as possible in every component, every gram counts. iglidur® polymer bearings are up to seven times lighter than their metal counterparts, thus reducing the overall weight of the car and helping save fuel. Car seat applications are a good example where there has been a migration from metal on metal to metal on plastic to fully plastic. In addition to their low weight, the noise damping and quiet running properties of iglidur® bearings, which take a high static load, are beneficial to the driver’s comfort.

The requirements on cable management systems in vehicles are becoming ever more complex. Onboard, there is a growing number of moveable, electrically-controlled functions and settings on hinged and sliding doors, seats, speakers and windows, as well as security and locking systems. Conventional power systems, such as gliding contacts, are susceptible to intermittent contact with loss of signal and no permanent current feed. In addition, simple plastic tubes and rubber grommets offer no defined guidance or radial stability, and cable ties are only suited to static applications.

igus® E2 micro cable management solutions are suitable for universal applications with different types of motion and travel, and protect and guide power, data, and fibre optic cabling, as well as gas, air and liquid hose lines. These energy chains are already onboard in a range of car systems for applications with very high dynamic loads, tight working spaces and long service life requirements. Available as one and two-piece systems, from 5mm inner height and bending radii from 100mm, these lightweight energy chains feature a cable-friendly interior and offer high torsion resistance.

For simple motion applications or infrequently moving cables, the E1 system is a cost-effective solution for large volumes, yet offers the same protect and guide functionality as the E2 micro.  The new “e-rib” simply clips onto existing corrugated hose for stabilisation, preventing unintentional sideways movements thus enable several hoses to be guided next to each other.

Throughout the show, members of the igus® team will be available on Stand 11E22 to take visitors through the benefits and potential applications of their bearing products and cable management systems, as well as provide insight into the full range of igus® products suitable for automotive applications. For more information, please visit: www.igus.co.uk/automotive-onboard

 

Video of the Week – igus® celebrates 25 years in the UK

igus® has enjoyed an eventful quarter of a century in the UK, starting from small beginnings as a supplier of a limited number of components, and growing rapidly to become one of the most respected manufacturers in the country. These days, igus® offers an unrivalled range of plastic plain bearings, spherical bearings, linear guides, cable carriers and continuous-flex cables, while also producing fully integrated systems.

Managing director, Matthew Aldridge, has been with the company since its early days: “Over the last 25 years, igus® has grown considerably and been involved with many high-profile projects. We’re looking forward to the next 25 years.”

During this year’s MACH exhibition at the NEC, igus® formally celebrated its 25th anniversary within the machine tooling industry. Viewers of this week’s video of the week will see some of the highlights of the busy show and may spot themselves on the stand – if you do, please tweet us at @igusUK using the hashtag #spotigus and we’ll send you a gift.

igus® can be found at an exhibition on average every four weeks – upcoming shows include Automechanika Birmingham, Hillhead, and Manufacturing & Engineering North East. If you are registered to attend any of these events, please do drop by our stand.