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What is the difference between iglidur® and metal rolled bearings?

Customers contact igus® daily and ask if we sell metal rolled bushes. The simple answer is no we don’t. We sell something better. We sell igus® bearings! Controversial I know but with over 50 years of expertise under our belt, we have complete faith in the igus® products.  So, let me explain some of the key differences that make the igus® bearings far superior to the metallic PTFE steel rolled version.

How are these bearings are constructed?:

  • Steel rolled bearings are described as “metal polymer bearings.” This is as a result of a layering effect. These layers have a steel backing, a bronze layer and a very thin (~0.1mm) polymer layer of some description. This can be either a thermo plastic or PTFE-based polymer. Once the polymer layer becomes worn, the bearing is then running with metal on metal. This could result in shaft damages or catastrophic “seizing up” of the bearing.
  • With igus® polymer bearings you have one homogenous component. iglidur® plain bearings have solid lubricants evenly distributed in the material. This ensures low friction and a long service-life at all times. This is achieved through the composition of the plastic compounds, such as; the entire wall thickness of the plain bearing serves as a potential wear surface. Reinforcing fibres enable an additional improvement of the mechanical properties and ensure that the bearings withstand even high loads.

No minimum order or value

Many companies have a minimum order quantity or value. Neither does igus® . As an inclusive company, it is important that every individual and large business gets what they need from igus®.

Material availability

igus® has an extensive range of different materials. A variety of applications can therefore be explored for the most suited material. The steel rolled type bearings come in different sizes but overall appear to have limited material choices.

Can the bearings predict the lifetime?

  • Unlike steel rolled bushes, igus® can predict the life cycle of the bearings due to its linear wearing nature. This life span can be determined through a lifetime calculator. igus® also has smart plastic technology which allows customers to be aware if bearings do start to show wear before they become problematic. If parameters change within an application, the smart technology informs the control room that the bearings are wearing before they cause a breakdown.
  • igus® bearings are a lot lighter weight wise in comparison to the metal counterparts which is more efficient for the machine and increasing the life of the machine.
  • Comparing the sustainability of igus® bearings compared to steel bearings, the method in which igus® bearings are produced is more sustainable. The fact that there is a recycling process if bearings need replacing and the lack of lubrication and grease required makes the whole process more sustainable. The list is endless and you can read more on the sustainable policies here.

igus® regularly replaces metal bearings with polymer bearings and it is easy to see why customers are making the transition. Gone are the days where the belief is that metal is the better option. People want results, they want security and reliability and with igus® bearings you get all that and a whole support team behind you.

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Welcome PayPal! Now available in the igus® webshop!

Innovation is a word that strongly represents igus® and its products. The mentality of pushing boundaries and stretching goals, ensuring that all new and existing products are being designed and performing to their full potential consumes every igus® employee.  Questions like: “How can these products help the customer?” and, “How can this product improve the customer’s application?” are continually discussed at every stage of the manufacturing process, and it is because of that mindset that, as a company, we are constantly trying to adapt and improve other areas of the business; as well as the products.

One of the biggest and most challenging things we have been faced with this year, is updating the website! This was never going to be a quick fix, after all the website is so vast and full of products, built over many years, that time and planning are crucial!

One area that we have been adapting is the shopping experience for customers. Everything is moving quite rapidly into the digital age and making the shopping experience easier for customers was a priority.

A small but monumental asset for igus®

One of the first steps was to introduce PayPal as a payment method!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I use PayPal daily. It’s quick, easy, convenient and safe; all paramount considerations when introducing anything money related onto a website. This secure and encrypted platform ensures that data is highly protected, and this has been achieved thanks to it being stored on a non-internet connected server (admittedly, I didn’t know that!).

PayPal deploys security tools such as data encryption and anti-fraud technology to curb the risk of data fraud and to keep user data as secure as possible. This is common with most major online financial services providers, but there is something reassuring about the blue and white logo!

This additional digital payment platform has allowed customers to place orders safely and securely where ordinarily, they would have had to enter their credit card details onto the site.  Of course, if preferred, any customer can still choose to pay directly by credit card, proforma or via an existing igus® credit account.

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Big or small, igus® loves all orders!

igus® loves small orders! Obviously, we love big orders too, what kind of a company would we be if we didn’t! After all, oak trees grow from acorns.

But this blog is not about how big or small the order is, well it goes in hand in hand with the topic in discussion, but this is about MOQ’s; minimum order quantities or minimum order values and surcharges. Why do MOQ’s exist and what is the igus® stance on them?

No minimum order quantity & no minimum order value

igus® do not have minimum order quantities or minimum order values. Plain and simple, but in all honesty, there are pros and cons for both sides of the argument, whether companies should or should not have these.

For igus®, not having MOQ’s spans across the whole range of standard catalogue parts. This can seem quite controversial for some companies, so let me explain why we as a company choose to work with this ethos.

Why do companies have MOQ’s?

Companies implement MOQ’s for many reasons, but the primary one is due to the baseline costs of processing an order. Operational costs for processing orders are complicated.  When you breakdown all overheads and hidden costs, there are elements that you don’t even consider! So, it is understandable that many companies have a minimum spend or a minimum order quantity, to ensure their profit level remains stable.  Financially it makes sense, but is that best for you, the customer?

igus® has chosen to avoid these constraints, it is against our ethos as a company as we love small orders! The range of companies, individuals and educational bodies that order from us is so vast, that we don’t want anyone to be discriminated against and forced into either minimum order values or minimum order quantities, it is just not what we do.

Our philosophy

We have had customers that have placed their first order with us, 10 plain bearings as an example, which has cost the customer around £25. Yes, it costs igus® more than this to process that order but what if these parts are for a prototype and the company or individual is working on a brand-new concept? The potential behind this could be 10,000 bearings per machine and this company could produce 10 machines a month. This “small” order has the potential to turn into a huge order if supported correctly.

Customer support

Supporting our customers is paramount! As a company, we want individuals, growing businesses or established businesses to order what they NEED as opposed to what they MUST order to meet the MOQ.

Every single product that igus® offers is sold individually; from an individual bearing, to an energy chain bracket; from a metre of cable to one single 3D printed part. This is to enable you, the customer, to have total freedom of choice, staying in control of your stock and money. The message is clear, with igus® there is no minimum order value, no minimum order quantity and no minimum size, we would love your order, no matter what the size!  All standard parts can also be ordered online, no surcharges, and fast delivery.  Check it out at https://www.igus.co.uk/info/product-category-overview

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How can you prevent expensive robot breakdowns?

You may think that dealing with robots is complicated; igus® has made it easy.

Relationships between humans and robots have become more intricate and important and being able to identify which relationship will work best for your application is vital.

But does igus® triflex® R reduce breakdowns? The answer is simple, it is mainly down to it being a modular system. This means that the triflex® is not permanently sealed and is therefore easy to service.  The igus® modular system benefits the customer as all components are individually replaceable. Cables can be removed and replaced without having to take any connectors off saving downtime, which saves you money.

How else can igus® help?

Configurators are essential when deciding on which products will be best suited to your application. Also, identifying the best products for your robot is vital. The igus®’ robot equipment configurator gives you a choice of the best system for both industrial robots and cobots, as a result of application parameters.

With the robot equipment configurator, deciding on the most suitable igus® equipment for your robot model is done in just a few steps. To ensure continuous support, the customer can use the respective “Help buttons” to obtain more detailed information on the individual components if required. Finally, you can place your completed configuration directly in the shopping cart and place an order with us.

Step by Step

1 – Pick the model name if you know it or pick manufacturer, type and model from the drop-down options.

2 – Next you have to pick the retraction system that suits the application.

3 – On the next page, you can go into more detail about the specifics for each axis; additional chain links, the particular size and any accessories required.

4 – You have the choice of either adding the parts to your shopping cart. You can order single parts from the breakdown or download CAD files.

It really is that simple! We have specialists available by phone to help you specify the energy chains required.  Alternatively, they can visit in person or virtually, give you samples for testing or can show you examples of similar applications.

Automating parts of production is the future with robotics and with the help of igus® triflex® R energy chain, your robots can continue to increase productivity whilst lowering labour costs, reducing lead times and eliminating expensive breakdowns.  

You have the power to configure your robot, why not have a go!

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Find out why 3D printed gears are the future!

When you think of gears, what is your first thought? I am confident that the first thought is not 3D printing them! So, this blog is to challenge your thoughts and the misconceptions surrounding 3D printed gears and to give you an insight into why more and more people are either 3D printing their own gears or getting us to do it for them…

Back to basics

Let’s start with some basics, what are the types of gears that igus® frequently 3D print?

Spur Gears

These gears are commonly known as gear wheels or straight-cut gears. They are the simplest of the gear family and consist of a cylindrical bore through the middle with teeth projecting parallel to the wheel axis. The main 3D printed material that igus® uses to produce these is iglidur® I3. The I3 material is a high wear-resistant material with excellent stability and mechanical properties.  The material has an abrasion resistance up to 30 times higher than conventional 3D printing materials. This makes it the perfect material for gears.

Worm Gears

Worm gears are more of an assembly arrangement consisting of a worm screw and a worm wheel. Using an assembly allows the rotational speed to be determined by the user. Because of this allows for a higher torque. With this type of gear, igus® recommends iglidur® I6. This white material is extremely tough and abrasion resistant. It is also FDA compliant so can be used in food applications! This material was designed to be used for the gear industry. With the 3D printing method rather than traditional milling, the design flexibility has fewer limitations.

Bevel gear

The bevel gears again have a partnership, with another bevel gear! These conically shaped gears work in harmony with each other. They mesh the gears together like a jigsaw. Usually these gears are mounted on shafts, which are 90 degrees apart. The material recommended for these gears would again be the iglidur® I3 for the same technical aspects required for the spur gears.

Rack and gear

Technically not a gear but something that we do get asked for is rack which goes hand in hand with traditional gears. This can be an alternative to belt drive, turning rotary motion into linear motion.

To make life even easier for the customer, there is not only a gear service life calculator but also a gear CAD configurator, all completely free!

This allows customers to configure their gear, get an idea of the service life and order them quickly and efficiently with no tooling, no set up costs, no long lead times and best of all, no minimum order quantity. So, ask yourself, what is preventing you from trying the igus® 3D printed gear…??

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Did you know that igus® sells cables?

Did YOU know that igus® sells cables? Sounds like a silly question really, given that we are an energy chain supplier; a product which protects cables, and yet we find ourselves still hearing the note of surprise in customers voices when we ask: “Do you need cables with your energy chain?”

So, let’s lay it out on the table. Yes, we do sell cables and it makes perfect sense to do so.

The perfect combination

In order to ensure the customer gets the most out of their energy chain, igus® decided to develop a range of cables that would harmonise with the energy chains and enable an extensive lifetime.

With the cables, it quickly became apparent that in order for us to be able to offer the best partnership and be able to have flexibility in regard to the varying applications we would need to create different cables for different environments.

How it all began

The first igus® cable was the “CF1” which was released back in 1988. Following on from the success of this cable, the range grew quickly, and now igus® can offer over 1350 different cable products with a guaranteed lifetime when used in energy chains. Pretty impressive for a motion plastics company which isn’t known for its cables!

Tried and tested

Each cable is meticulously tested, and the results are publicised on the website, allowing the customer to see how many millions of cycles each cable has been tested to. This information creates confidence when planning cycles and organising arranged downtime, should this be required. As igus® cables are extensively tested in the laboratory in Cologne, we can confidently guarantee a 36-month lifetime or 10 million cycles, whichever comes first.

Need them in 24 hours?

The UK has a large range of chainflex cables available to ship out within 24 hours! These include control, data, bus, motor, servo, encoder and even robotic cables! Click here for the live cable stock availability: https://www.igus.co.uk/info/chainflex-express

Now ask the question again…

Not only do igus® provide cables to compliment the energy chains, we can add connectors to the cables to create readycables, ready-to-connect drive cables. These plug and play systems are cost- effective and as a complete cable system, reduce the time it takes for installation.

So, do igus® sell cables?

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Why is sustainability important and how is igus contributing?

Discussions around green policies and sustainability are more prominent than ever! It is imperative that conversations surrounding ecological projects continue to be discussed. However simply discussing is not enough. The world needs actions. The issue of a more sustainable world is dominating the media on every available platform.

The nations favourite broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough, was recently welcomed to the social media giant Instagram. He had one aim; to reach more people by promoting climate change. He also talked about green incentives and sustainability. In less than 24 hours he had over 1 million followers! Clearly the topic is one that is important to people.

We cannot afford to underestimate the importance unity. We need to ensure that we as individuals and companies are contributing towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

igus® has already accomplished many sustainable incentives. These continue to contribute towards a better planet. But there is more that can be done! That’s why more “green projects” are being introduced throughout igus® worldwide!

3 new areas of sustainability

Water management

The aim is to reduce water consumption by 60%. This will be accomplished by introducing a new re-cooling system for the extrusion machines. The current systems utilises tap water. But with the new system, we are hopeful of reaching the 60% water reduction.

Energy management

To reduce the energy consumption across the entire Cologne factory.

  • igus® has already invested over 8 million euros in replacing old machines with newer machines. This is saving 30% energy in comparison to the older machines. In Cologne, there are approx. 500 moulding machines. 200 new ones and 300 old ones. Therefore replacing the balance of the machines will be an ongoing project!
  • In the factory we are testing different lights to see if we can reduce the consumption without it being detrimental to the employees. This is not an easy task!
  • Compressed air: This consumes a lot of energy and numerous leakages have been identified across the factory. Over the coming weeks these will be fixed and will lower the energy consumption.

Clean Sweep

Our aim is to reduce the amount of plastic going into the environment. The dream “not to waste a single gram of plastic.” The Clean Sweep is a new incentive to prevent material waste coming off the conveyor belts or moulding machines and becoming contaminated by reaching the floor. Various measures have been developed and have been implemented. These consist of collecting the parts and reducing the number of parts reaching the ground. We will continue to research the optimum method of trying to prevent parts reaching the floor and this will be implemented throughout the factory. By reducing the amount of plastic reaching the floor, we can increase the amount of material we are able to recycle and use for regranulation.  

Did you know that it takes 50% less energy to produce plastic over producing steel?  So, in theory, as a company, we are already well on our way to helping create a more sustainable world. We already run schemes such as the “chainge” program. This is a way of recycling your energy chains for money off vouchers. We also have investments into chemical recycling of Mura Technology. This technology converts waste into crude oil and this is then recycled into plastic granules.  Despite the schemes already in place, igus® will not stop until every aspect of the business is helping towards reducing the environmental impact.   

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Metal rod ends? From igus®? Surely not…..

The rumours are true! igus® has released a range of igubal metal rod ends and it has caused quite a stir. It is no secret that igus® advocates polymer over metal, so why release a metal rod end?

The answer is simple. We listened to our customers.

The extensive igubal® range that igus® holds is ever growing, despite the misconception about the strength of polymer over metal. However, there were instances when the polymer range just couldn’t meet the customer requirement for high loads.  So, testing began on combining the tribo- optimised iglidur® material, a stainless-steel rotating ball and a metallic housing to reinforce the part for higher loads. Enter the metal rod end!

Basically, the concept is to create a construction kit which allows the customer to decide which materials best suit their requirements. For example, the housing could be made from either steel, stainless steel or aluminium, the inner ring can be made from any of the 55 main iglidur® materials and the central ball can be made from stainless steel, aluminium or an iglidur® material of the customer’s choice.

The same but different

You could be forgiven for thinking that aesthetically the new metal rod end bearings look like conventional ones, but the small yet significant difference, is the self-lubricating iglidur® polymer ring. This minor detail ensures that the part offers low coefficient of friction and remains wear resistant.

 Having various materials to choose from opens up many more possible applications to use igus® products. The metallic housing has 5 times higher breaking strength than the traditional iglidur® housing material, giving it greater stiffness and yet the typical igus® traits remain: no lubrication required, the sustainability of the product, no minimum order quantity.

In most of the applications where igubal® polymer rod ends are used, there isn’t the necessity for excessive load capacity, however, in industries such as the railway industry, the requirement for high loads, durability, low-cost, low-maintenance and predictability is essential.

These new products were released this year and new tools are being made to produce a large range of sizes, so if you have a size you require please contact us!

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Bar stock for Bridge Building

iglidur® RN 326 – a newly developed iglidur® material as alternative to your incremental launching bearings

You would be forgiven for not associating huge bridges with igus® but actually you would be wrong! igus® products are everywhere and there is now a material that is being used as an alternative to incremental launching bearings. If like me, you have no idea what an incremental launching bearing is, hopefully this blog will help you understand the fundamentals.

What is incremental launching and how is iglidur® used as an alternative material?

The incremental launching method is a method for building bridge superstructures, preferably used for bridging deep valleys. This method is reminiscent of industrial production; individual roadway elements or concreting sections are manufactured at a point. After one section is finished, it is moved by a hydraulic system and the next section can be started. In order to bridge the first pier, a cantilever is used which allows sliding elements to move concrete sections over the bridge piers. These are also known as incremental launching bearings.

What do these launch bearings do?

Fundamentally, the incremental launching bearings enable displacement, reduces forces and maintains a low coefficient of friction whilst moving the sections. Due to the uneven load distribution and edge loads that can occur during displacement, the material must have a degree of elasticity to prevent breakages.

The bridge between technical improvement and decreasing costs:

In the traditional incremental launching process, PTFE or PE sliding elements constructed of a combination of PTFE, elastomer and a steel plate are often used but these have disadvantages that once the PTFE layer has been worn away, the bearings no longer has any sliding properties, deeming it useless and require replacement.

This is where the new iglidur® RN326 comes into its own. This material has been designed especially for high impact applications, durable with low moisture absorption.

Sliding elements made entirely of iglidur® RN326 material are homogeneous over the entire material thickness and therefore do not lose any of their tribological properties. The iglidur® material also exhibits high strength therefore edge loads do not pose a problem. This is all without requiring reinforcements in steel plates!

With a maximum surface pressure of 38 N/mm², the material can withstand considerably higher loads compared to PTFE and yet the material remains highly wear resistant. The factors mentioned above increase the service life of the plates, which means that the need for sliding elements can be reduced increasing sustainability.

This material is very new to igus® and is being successfully tested on bridges in Germany.

It won’t be long until the UK starts to implement decisions, whereby they change materials that wear easily and require regular replacement for materials which help keep technology up and long-term costs down.

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What is iglidur®?

what is iglidur

What is iglidur®?igus® has been producing highly technical plastic bearings and components manufactured from iglidur® materials for over 50 years, and they are fast becoming the ‘go to’ replacement for their metal equivalent. But what is it about these igus® materials which has made it such a popular choice for replacing not only metal but also other plastic counterparts? In fact, what makes an iglidur® polymer and why would you choose one over other traditional plastic and even metallic components?

‘What is iglidur?’ is not the only questions we have answers to. Read our frequently asked questions about bearings here.

What is iglidur®?

igus® developed iglidur® materials as high-performance polymers but each one has specific specialised properties that individualise themselves from the rest. All the iglidur® materials are wear-resistant, robust, self-lubricating and therefore also run completely dry. Thanks to extensive testing, igus® can confidently calculate the service life of their bearings, depending on the application parameters required by the customer.

Each iglidur® material consists of three key components; the base polymers, fibres & filling materials and solid lubricants. These three elements create a unique combination and it’s this combination of components that form the base of all the igus® materials. Every application is different. Every parameter can be different so to ensure that each application has a suitable material, additional components are added to the foundation elements to create different compositions, different iglidur® materials.

Self-lubricating

Now we’re answered ‘what is iglidur’ we begin to explain igus® materials further. Being lubrication-free has always been a unique selling point. Yet people still ask, “what lubrication can, or should I use?”  What is the fascination, almost a need to lubricate parts? There is simply no requirement for any lubrication! Furthermore, the self-lubricating element also helps reduce the co-efficient of friction and helps reduce the maintenance required due to the dirt resistance caused by the self-lubrication of the materials.

Comparable to other plastics

It is a common misconception that igus® bearings are nylon bearings. Nylon is a material, just as iglidur® is a material so igus® does not sell Nylon bearings, superior alternatives to Nylon material yes, but not Nylon.

The range of iglidur® materials that are available will be comparable to other plastics. For example, we have a high-performance range of materials such as iglidur® Q2E, X, A350 and A500 and these would be suitable for most applications where there is high load, high temperatures or a chemical resistance requirement, where you may see materials such as PEEK or HPV.

iglidur® over traditional plastic

There are many benefits that iglidur® materials can bring to your application, many are mentioned above. But there are more!

  • igus®  is unique when it comes to  calculating the life cycle of bearings. The development of the lifetime calculation programme allows customers to know how long their product is going to last and arrange planned downtime should they wish to replace bearings, well before the products are due to require replacement.
  • There is also a product finder which helps you specify the most suitable material for your application. The results that these configurators provide are all based on thousands of test results carried out in our laboratory.
  • If a standard option is not plausible, there is stock material in either bar or plate which can be machined into the customer design. There is also a 3D print service, tribo-coating service, fit calculators, all the tools a customer needs to find the correct igus® material for their application.

Now we have answered ‘what is iglidur®?’ and you are STILL not convinced that igus® materials are the way forward, contact us and it won’t take much for you to be convinced.

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