The first 500Km

We started to head out of Tokyo straight after the press conference, towards our first destination; Isesaki, which is around one hour east of the capital city. Once in Isesaki, we visited the first of our beloved customers. As iglidur® approached upon the business property, it was fantastic to be greeted by the whole R&D department, with around 20 members gathering to not only take a look at the car, yet be informed about the numerous igus® products involved.

The customer has a current need for the use of bearings within his exhaust system, and is thus testing those of igus’. One application area could be in the throttle body. iglidur® bearings, guiding the throttle valve, could be said to be a classic worldwide application, where a wide range of customers have been relying on self-lubricating iglidur® bearings for their throttle valve for many years.

iglidur® bearings endure high temperatures without any problems and are a cost-effective and light alternative to heavy metal bearings. Suspicious? The following video clip, made in Taiwan, is showing very lively how resistant igus® plain bearings are against heat:

Although Isesaki was only about one hour drive from Tokyo, it altogether took us 2-3 hours to get there. Initially, we had to pass the suburbs of the greatest city on earth, yet some of these “suburbs” are as large as major European cities. Sooner or later when you eventually leave Tokyo, all the scenery turns to green landscapes.

The route in which we embarked upon lead us right to the city centre. In winter, the mountains turn into a famous skiing-area whereas in summer, there is a real contrast in season where you can experience the real countryside of Japan.

As in most developed countries, the rural part gets more and more abandoned. Despite a shrinking population, the big cities are growing. The majority of people growing up in the countryside leave their villages behind. With their villages, they also leave behind traditional dishes, all of them incredibly delicious. Although the picture below at a first glance looks likes potatoes, it is actually grind fish. Somehow, it gets the potato look and even has a similar consistency.

One evening we went to a restaurant/bar where an old lady, cooking and serving at the same time, made traditional “grandma” food… which simply was the best in the world.

Karaoke, invented in Japan, is a must in traditional bars. It was evident that the people gathering there had been doing Karaoke their entire life. Everyone, including the very old cook of the house, had a pleasant and unique voice. It was surely not contributing to my self-confidence when it was my turn to get up to sing something.

From the old Grandmothers bar, we continued our journey on heading towards the sea. On the way, we had the chance to visit an UNESCO world heritage site.

The village is preserved in a very traditional way with wooden houses that have a roof made out of straw.

From the world heritage site we ended up at Hakui, which is located at the sea. As iglidur® is water resistant, we took the opportunity to take the car to the shore of the Japanese sea.

igus® bearings are all water resistant as well as corrosion free. Based on this, we offer special bearings that are exclusively manufactured for meeting the demand of under-water applications.  iglidur® H, our water specialist, is the perfect choice not only for water but also fluids and chemicals respectively.

Anyway, I will keep you up to date,

Yours, Sascha.

Welcome to the land of the rising sun- Tokyo

We arrived in the most popular metropolis on earth, Tokyo. About thirty six million people are living and working here. Just to get a feeling for the dimensions, imagine more than half of the British population living in a city that is 4,5 times larger than London.

Although we were able to get iglidur® through customs easily, obtaining the driving permission proved to be more complex.

The anticipated start date for the tour was set to the 28th. However, before we were allowed to travel through the land of the rising sun, it was required for us to obtain countless numbers of documents. For instance, we needed a “parking certificate” for Tokyo (everyone who wants to register a car must bring prove of an existing parking space. This is one measure of Tokyo´s government to reduce traffic in this mega city). Not only dozens of documents are required but also a modification process of the car (For example, the headlight must be changed to left side driving). Another essential element was to pass the inspection and exhaust gas test. After this we were then able to receive driving permission. In the time between modification and inspection, the car featured as part of our booth in an automotive exhibition.
Thus, the fist thing I had seen of Tokyo, were well organized state offices, including the German embassy whom had to verify my identity for the Japanese driving license.

Tokyo gave off the first impression of being a very clean and organised city, with a dirt free pristine clean city centre. In the metro stations, that to add are also extremely clean, each train stops perfectly on time at the same place (you wait at the point saying door 5 and you can be absolutely sure of door 5 opening at exactly the point you are standing). The extreme organisation is most likely due to the complexity and volume of people in the city, it is essential that areas such as transport run smoothly. A famous example that highlights the extreme population of Tokyo is the street in front of Shibuya station. Thousands of people cross the main road and streets on a daily basis.

Tokyo could be said to be quite diverse: on the one hand Tokyo is very modern, yet on the other hand it has a very old and traditional sight too. An example for the modern site is Akihabara district, the “electronic city” of Tokyo. Here you find dozens of anime and electronic shops.

Only a few districts further, is the old and traditional part of Tokyo where the streets are very narrow and full of traditional houses.

The core of this district features a big temple.

Here you can experience the two sights of Tokyo, as in the background of the old temple you can see modern houses and the futuristic Skytree.

With a height of 634 meters, the Skytree overlooks everything, which comes with the territory of being the tallest tower in the world following Shanghai tower as the second largest building worldwide.

A colleague invited me to participate in the annual Sanja Matsuri, a traditional religious festival (Buddhism).

The Sanja Matsuri features about one hundred mikoshi (portable shrines) in which gods are symbolically placed into and paraded about the streets to bring good fortune to the local businesses and residents.

I had the honour to carry one of these shrines, although they were incredibly heavy.

As the day went on, I started to understand that the ceremony I was participating in was an extremely important ritual for the locals. A Japanese visitor told me that it is a great honour for every Japanese to participate in this event and that he unfortunately has never had the chance.

I will keep you up to date,

Yours Sascha.

Video of the Week – Press fitting iglidur plain bearings made easy

Expanding on the range to press smaller bearings into place

For more information on igus bearings:

Polymer specialist igus has developed a simple to use press fitting tool for plain bearings. This updated and improved version of the original press fit tool PT-1350, which is designed to be used for bearings with an internal diameter of 13 to 50mm, is to now include the smaller PT-0620 which is suitable for fitting bearings with an internal diameter of 6 to 20 mm.

Both fitting tools ensure that bearings are pressed into the housing within the H7 tolerance. They are easily adjustable ensuring that the bearing is held in position during fitting.

The self-centring positioning fingers ensure that the bearings are accurately aligned before being pushed into place. Being made from high-impact strength polymer means the push-in aid will not break, even when fitting the bearing with an impact tool while reducing noise, thus meeting the needs of those customers who require quiet operation.

The journey so far in pictures

We started in Taichung….

…then took a way east to the sun moon lake…

…then passed the famous Mt. Hehuan…

…from there to the East coast…

…along the coast north to Taipei…

…then back south to Taichung for the press conference…

From Taichung we went east again, passing the famous canyon in Taroko National Park….

…then we went south…

…then to Kaohsiung….

…and finally back to Taichung.

Last days in Taiwan

The leg of the trip within Taiwan has unfortunately come to an end an it’s time for us to move onto the next part of our adventure. For two weeks we have been exploring the whole island, driving more than 2700km. One aspect, other than the beautiful scenery, that stands out is the outstanding volume of scooters on the road. They literally rule the street. igus® helps increase the lifetime of the most popular transport vehicle in Taiwan. AEON, a well-known scooter manufacturer, relies on igus® for both the suspension at the front and the back and for the throttle valve.

The smooth motion of the throttle valve is ensured by two iglidur® bearings. They not only withstand extreme weather conditions such as in this case the hot environment without any problems, but are also light in weight and cost effective. This results in them being a perfect alternative to conventional, heavy metal bearings. iglidur® bearings in throttle valves are becoming increasingly common for use within scooters as well as the automotive industry in general. Similarly, the ‘iglidur® on tour’ car has been relying on two iglidur® bearings in the throttle valve for more than 150000 km so far, driving through heavy tropical rain in Taiwan, incredible heat in the desert and cold in the mountains. A definite cert for an all round material.

iglidur® plain bearings within the suspension help dampen the force that occurs whilst hitting a bump. If the force is too high, the suspension changes its angle to suit this. On the picture below our bearings are not visible as they are located internally. The bearings, that are guiding the suspension, are facing high edge loads and fast strokes. They have been doing this for many years without any problems.

It doesn’t matter what the environmental conditions are, it could be pouring down with rain, scooters are still on the road in their great quantities. Although, without any question, it is best to ride the scooters when it is sunny. As you become closer to Kentig in the South, the more you can see the sun. While driving along the coast and chasing the sun, more and more rice fields appear.

The south of Taiwan is a number one choice for holiday destination for the Taiwanese and also Chinese.

Beautiful beaches can be found at ease, however the main issues is the popularity of those mean getting a space to sit and relax could end up being slightly slim.

Kaohsiung is the major port city in the South. As iglidur® is universally applicable, you can also find us in boats (such as our drylin® linear guides in boat interior (tables etc.)). Thus, we also had a booth at the famous boat show that was held for three days in the brand new exhibition hall.

Coincidentally, the last day of the boat show was mothers day and to get iglidur involved within this theme, you could write an iglidur® on tour postcard to your mum, an offer which even the mayor of the city was making use of.

Not only did we visit customers on our trip, but also two kindergartens. The teacher read and heard about an orange car that is travelling around the world. Drumming up excitement within the school, the children asked if iglidur could pay them a visit. More than 130 children between the ages 3-6 welcomed us with a special dance performance when we entered their playground.

Fully loaded with self-made balloons, our car arrived at the office in Taichung.

We had an incredible two weeks. Yet now the time has come to say goodbye and move onto the next leg of our journey: Japan.

As usual, I will keep you up to date with the latest on our tour,


yours Sascha


With igus® to a greater height

Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, is well-known worldwide for its magnificent skyscraper: The Taipeh 101, which has been the tallest building in the world for six years that is until the opening of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010.

The 101 floors of the building, that comprise to give the building its name, reach a height of about 500 meters. No one would dare to trade the fastest elevator in the world for the stairs that total to over 2000. (The lift takes 40 seconds from ground level to the 89th floor). No one except Görge Heimann. Görge Heimann belongs to a sports elite who avoid elevators not due to claustrophobic reasons, yet due to the passion of running stairs. The teacher from cologne, has been participating in so called Tower-running for many years.
A jury measures the time for each runner that is running up a building. Görge is one of the fastest and therefore belongs to the top ten worldwide. This time he runs under the flag of igus®, while challenging his colleagues in the elite run of the Tower-running World Cup Grand Prix in Tapei. Two that belong to the world elite, each seeking for perfection, found together.

It took him only 12:46 minutes to run up the 2046 stairs (in comparison, the Cologne Cathedral has only 533 steps). The following picture was taken in the Tower-running Grand Prix in Las Vegas:

He followed the Australian Mark Bourne (10:54), who won Gold, on rank six.

While Görge needs a break once he arrives at the top of the buildings, igus® products can work day and night continuously without a break. No professional tower runner takes the same way down. To get down safely they rely on the elevator. igus® bearings not only ensure the smooth motion of elevator doors, but igus® e-chains also protect the cables that ensure the power supply.

For instance: The elevator cables hanging under this elevator car (Bonn, Germany) were exposed to constant air draughts caused by a forced-air system for the smoke alarm installation and this resulted in undesirable lateral motion. The combination of an igus® E2/000 E-Chain® and a sheet-metal duct now provides the necessary stability for the energy supply system.

Although Görges time was really limited due to his flight back the same evening, he didn’t want to leave Taipei without sitting in our iglidur® on tour car. While Görge tests his limits by climbing stairs, the car is doing the same by driving 100000 kilometres around the world instead.

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