Zigzag e-chain modules: providing energy for vertical applications

For applications that require vertical cable management, especially those with space constraints, the zigzag energy e-chain modules from igus® have proven to be particularly successful.  Standard zigzag energy chain modules are available from igus®, offering a space-saving and cost-effective solution for applications requiring vertically moving cable management.  Ideal for stage technology, cranes, telescopic antennae etc, this innovative solution was previously only available as a custom order.  Now new, standardised modular designs enable faster delivery and lower cost.  In modern stage technology, a variety of cables – including power, audio and data – must be managed to move and operate lighting trusses or mobile stage elements, usually vertically.

To ensure reliable supply of data and energy, it is therefore also necessary to guide and protect the cabling vertically too.  This can often be challenging in theatre environments: solutions must be visually neat, tidy and unobtrusive, operating with little noise and often in restricted spaces.  Other applications requiring vertically suspended cable management include hydraulic lifting platforms, often used where temporary, flexible access is required, such as storage, maintenance or construction.

The zigzag module from igus® provides a folding energy chain, with all the cables guided safely and neatly stowed away in a standardised box when the platform is in its lowered position.  When the platform is raised, the e-chain® unfolds and follows the movement – up to 30 metres in height. The intelligent design of the zigzag movement means virtually silent vertical operation, unlike traditional rope retraction systems.

The system is also able to carry very high cable and hose loads. The galvanised steel box can be unobtrusively integrated into stage elements or fastened to movable lighting rigs, and is also available in any colour, including low-reflection black.  For customers with demanding vertical cable management requirements, this innovative zigzag solution is ideal.  Previously, customers would specify it individually or in small batches as a custom order. The standard box also provides an ideal means of transport for the energy chain pre-fitted with cables.

This means it can be delivered as a complete system and quickly fitted as a ready-to-install plug & play system with e-chain® chainflex® cables and connectors in the same system. If the standard option doesn’t suit your application, igus® offers a full complete custom system. This starts from a customer requirement and finishes with a completely customised system, engineered and supplied by igus®. To ensure that the system reaches the customer intact, wooden transport crates can be supplied for added protection when delivering from factory to site.

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igus® parts in the fitness industry

The fitness industry is huge, financially and economically and even if you aren’t a gym enthusiast, somewhere along the way, sports equipment will infiltrate your world in some form. Whether it be a bicycle, a rowing machine or a treadmill gathering dust in the garage!

Statistics show that the services predominantly used in gyms are fitness devices for weight training and cardio machines. The focus for any equipment used in this industry is ergonomic and requires smooth movements, from adjusting sitting positions and weights to the inclination of the devices. With all of these requirements, igus® products can help. The range of drylin® linear systems are comfortable to handle and work almost silently. This is crucial when considering large sports facilities with several hundred exercise machines, noise generation must be minimal.

Another key feature to consider is that igus® products are lubrication-free. Without using lubrication-free products, oil and grease would seep onto the equipment and onto the user. Not only are both of those key areas to be considered when designing and building such equipment, professionally- used exercise machines must withstand continuous operation on a daily basis so a predictable lifetime is essential.


Cardio machines:

fitness industry cardio machines

The ideal sitting position plays a crucial role with cardio machines. This can prevent and avoid straining joints and muscles. Whether by hand or electronically, seat distances and height adjustments of grips and displays can be adjusted in seconds and tailored to your specific needs. With the various profiles and complete carriages or single linear bearings, the drylin® W linear guide offers the ideal system for every design. The type of movement generated using the drylin® range is comparable to traditional linear products, however, the drylin® products decrease operating noises and weight while also reducing costs by 40%.

Using linear bearings ensure low friction and silent sliding of the seat. Other areas of the machines where there is both rotating and pivoting joints can be adjusted ideally with igus® bearings, again silent and without maintenance.

Weights in the fitness industry:

weights in the fitness industry

One of the most popular exercise machines for weight training includes leg curl and extension. Here, drylin® W linear guides and iglidur® bearings ensure that the movement is continuous and smooth running.  The linear guide allows for simple and almost silent adjustment of the height of the pad for leg training. Double profiles and carriages can be mounted quickly and because of the lubrication-free operation, absolutely no maintenance is required. For all bearings within the joints of the machines, iglidur® G and M250 bearings are perfect. No matter where they are installed on the machine, they are corrosion-resistant, silent and have a predictable lifetime, so ideal for such equipment.

Bicycles in the fitness industry:

fitness bicycles

Using igus® polymer bearings in bicycles not only reduces the weight of the bike, it can increase the lifetime and reduce the cost long term. As with all igus® products, they are corrosion free, so they can withstand all the elements, dirt and the general hammering a bicycle can get!

However, you get your endorphins running, make sure that the products you are using are lightweight, lubrication-free and cost-effective within the fitness industry. If they aren’t already, change to igus® products!

Do you work on your own bike and other DIY projects? Read all our DIY blogs on how to use igus® products within all your DIY projects here.

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Our very own Laura Stavciuc wins a brand-new award!

A more personal blog from igus® to acknowledge a wonderful achievement by a member of our very own customer support team, Laura Stavciuc! Laura was nominated a few weeks ago for a new award, run by Brackmills Business Improvement District (BID), which is local to the UK head office in Northampton, and she won!

The ABCD, ‘Above & Beyond the Call of Duty’ award was designed to highlight individuals that have shown commitment, innovation, persistence and have gone above and beyond in their job role for their company.

Laura epitomises everything that this award stands for. Here’s why…

At the beginning of the 2020 coronavirus lockdown, it was clear that igus® would have to remain open. This was non-negotiable due to being a key manufacturer, so whilst most of the igus® team packed up their desks and said farewell to the office, others were having to adapt to the new conditions required to remain and continue to work in the factory.

There were many changes! One immediate one, which became crucial, was the need to rearrange vacant rooms to suit urgent requirements outside normal day to day working for igus®. The main meeting room was re-utilised as a face shield assembly line and the canteen was repurposed into a stock holding facility. This was to help the national effort to get urgent PPE supplies to the NHS and care workers.

igus® worked with the National 3D Printing Society and assembled hundreds of face shields every day, this had to be done in addition to the everyday work being done at igus® and Laura stepped up, volunteering her time.  

Her day to day role is in customer support here in Northampton, so as well as that, she took on the challenge of leading the face shield project. As the demand decreased in the UK, Laura realised that other countries, such as her home country Moldova, also had an urgent need, so she organised sending thousands abroad to countries who were desperate for PPE in the fight against COVID-19.

Her commitment has ensured that thousands of people worldwide had the vital protection they needed to fight against COVID-19. All this whilst doing her day to day job.

It’s thanks to Laura’s hard work, dedication and persistence that she has been recognised for and won this award, and her commitment makes everyone who works at igus® immensely proud to work with her!

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e-skin: openable solutions for cleanrooms

The e-skin energy chain is predominately used in the manufacture of semiconductors, more commonly known as computer chips. These applications are exceptionally sensitive to dust so require special cleanroom manufacturing conditions. igus® developed a modular corrugated tube and a flat cable guidance system to ensure energy supply could be provided to work in such specialised environments. These energy chain systems supply moving machines with data, media and energy and minimise abrasion. As a result, there are no particles that can get into the air and contamination is avoided.

For applications like this it is essential that the environment is contamination-free, and with its clean room approved IPA ISO Class 1 certification, the e-skin range is perfect for this high-purity manufacturing environment.

There are other applications where the e-skin would be beneficial, such as the medical industry, printing and LCD screen manufacturing. All of these applications require the same high standard of cleanliness to avoid contamination.

There are 3 main types of e-skin: the e-skin, the e-skin soft and the e-skin flat although there are 3 more members of the e-skin family that are new this year, the e-skin hybrid, the e-skin flat single pods and the e-skin flat with supporting chain.

e-skin SK

The main e-skin range comes in 2 sizes, SK28and SK40. The 28 and 40 denote the inner height of the chain and can have internal shelves and separators fitted if required. This e-chain design has an easy open and close zipper design which makes replacing cables very quick and easy. The upper and lower shells are made from igumid SK, which is a polymer material designed especially for this range of chains. This chain can have an unsupported length of up to 2.5m, depending on the size chosen, and is cleanroom compatible with IPA ISO classification 1. The chain material is TPA which is optimised for low abrasion and low noise.

e-skin SKF

This chain is referred to as the e-skin flat due to its compact modular structure. The e-skin flat is perfect for small installation spaces and is a freely fillable system consisting of double profiles with 3 cable chambers. These can be connected to wider systems thanks to the manner in which these chains are produced as a continuous extrusion.
There are two versions of the e-skin flat. One with closed cable chambers and one version in which the individual cable chambers can be opened and closed with a zipper. The advantage of this is the convenience of replacing individual cables rather than complete systems.
Both versions can be shortened individually.

e-skin SKS

The e-skin soft is currently available in one size which is the SKS20, 20mm inner height. The installation height is 32% smaller when compared to the e-skin which makes it a good choice in very small installation spaces. This has a similar design to the e-skin with the easy open and close zipper design.

Suitable cables for cleanroom

To compliment the e-skin chain, igus® have over 918 types of cables with cleanroom classification IPA Class 1, 166 types with cleanroom classification IPA Class 2 and all these are tested, inspected and have a 36-month guarantee.

These ingenious energy chain systems not only avoid contamination within the application,  they can save you time with the ease of  installation. Gone are the days when systems need to be broken down entirely for a worn cable. With these energy chains, simply replace the cable, not the entire system and keep your cleanroom contamination free.

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Forget chocolate vending machines, introducing mask vending machines!

I am sure that everyone can relate to this. You are leaving the house, what is your thought process? “Do I have my keys, wallet and phone?”, 3 key things that everyone will consider before they shut the front door. 2020 has added a 4th thing to remember, a mask.

Due to the current situation with the Covid-19 virus, protective masks are our daily companion, whether you are visiting the supermarket or visiting the doctor, it is now the law to wear one.  Some schools are now making it compulsory for children to wear one in communal areas. But how many of us have forgotten our mask and only released when we have reached the shops? So, what can you do in this situation?

More and more vending machines are being placed in front of shops in order to ensure that those that have forgotten their masks can still enter the shop or doctor’s surgery. These dispensers are constructed similarly to toy vending machines seen in amusement arcades. The very machines where you spend at least £10 trying to grab a toy, and failing miserably, have been upgraded to essential items rather than the very non-essential teddy bear. The principle however is the same, instead of a toy, a robot grips a mask and delivers it to the delivery point.

igus® robot kinematics for cost-effective and fast automation

Robot kinematics from igus are ideally suited to such machines. There are options within the low-cost automation range of robots that may be suitable; the delta robot, which enables lightning-fast dispensing of 60 picks/min, or the modular linear robot, which can be designed to suit most situations. Both could be used depending on the requirement.  igus® robots are a cost-effective solution and offer a fast return on investment which makes them ideal for these, hopefully temporary, machines.

Delta robot in mask dispensers

These are ideal for dispensers. This low-cost robot consists of three linear systems that are built up and linked via coupling arms to form the ‘delta’ shape.  The delta robot is characterised by its speed, it achieves up to 60 picks per minute. The delta kinematics are optimal for pick and place applications, e.g. in the food, electronics and pharmaceutical industries and now also ideal with mask dispensers. igus® can supply a finished control concept with the igus® Robot Control system if required.

For more information on this or any of the products to do with mask dispensers please let us know and we will be happy to help.

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When you can’t socially distance, use a robot

Social distancing is the phrase of 2020 and what’s interesting is that the phrase can have both negative and positive connotations, depending on the context. igus® over the years has grown relationships with other companies, working in collaboration with them to support products that combine with igus® products.  One of the strongest relationships is with Universal Robots, a company which strives to strengthen the way in which workforces in various sectors operate in the UK and across Europe, by integrating robots with humans.

Supporting such companies with igus® triflex®, a specially designed robotic energy chain, allows the UR Robots to be “dressed” in the best cable management system on the market.

In true igus® fashion we also have a large range of triflex® energy chains to suit a variety of cobots and robots including Kuka, Fanuc and ABB.

With the changing times, there is a need for companies to restrict the number of people they can have in the workplace.  We have seen a rise in companies investing in automating operations within production lines, mixing humans and robots.

You do not have to worry about social distancing measures with robots.

Implementing more robots onto the market, combined with igus® triflex® energy chain was an easy transition. It has enabled companies to have human workers separated by the robots to ensure that social distancing is implemented with the minimal amount of upheaval. The advantage of this is that companies can continue to operate at full capacity, producing the maximum workload, but with some staff members still on furlough or being utilised in different departments.

Another advantage is that production can in theory run 24 hours a day, and with continuous running it is imperative that protecting the cables within the demanding multi-axis robot is high on the list of priorities.

igus® triflex® is used to dress robots all over the world but surprisingly, the UK is the least-robotised nation in the whole of Europe! This leads to opportunities for the UK, now is the time to start automating production lines in collaboration with humans. Thanks to the high tensile force absorption and high flexibility, the freedom of movement that the triflex® energy chain offers, copes exceptionally well with complicated motions, especially in the vertical axes.

Another key reason that triflex® is a popular choice, is the ease of assembly once the robot is operational. If a cable needs replacing, there is no excessive downtime, just a matter of switching out the cable, putting a new one in and ensuring it is secure. igus® has dedicated engineers to help show customers how to assemble and disassemble the chain on the robots and working with partnerships such as Universal Robot, they too can show customers the ease of using the triflex® system when demonstrating their robots.

Times are changing and there is an increased necessity for humans to work in collaboration with robots. As with all igus® products, having the ability to determine the lifetime of the energy chains and cables used with these robots, ensures that the customer is confident in the ability of the entire workforce, both humans and robots, in a safe and socially distanced environment.

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How to reduce cost, noise and weight within Automotive interiors

The automotive industry is notoriously difficult to satisfy, especially with such high standards in every area of production. With the development of intelligent driving and electric vehicle technology, more electrokinetic products are being installed in the cabin. A prime example of this is on pivoting seats, with long travel, retractable displays and smart glass applications.

The key elements for automotive is security and comfort to increase the driving experience, whilst maintaining a level of costs that is feasible for both the manufacturer and the customer.

With the implementation of more kinematic features into the interior systems, the requests for weight reduction, noise-reduction and inevitably a reduced cost becomes more of a challenge. But not for igus®!

With special iglidur® materials for bearing solutions and the unique design for dynamic cable protection e-chains® they are able to establish operating noise levels at less than 40dB. Not only is the reduction in noise possible using igus® products but this can be achieved at a lower cost than metal alternatives.

Here are some key features for reducing noise, weight and cost within automotive interiors:

Reduce costs

Pricing pressure is not uncommon in this industry and it is forcing designers and OEMs to look at alternatives to traditional parts and methods to ensure they are continually optimising their costs.

Today, almost every motor vehicle that is made contains polymer bearings as a substitute for metal plain bearings or rolling bearings. The uses of these polymer bearings range vastly from seat systems to high temperature applications in the engine compartment, in shift forks for gearboxes to coolant pumps. It is easy to see why these alternatives are replacing traditional materials.

  • Less energy required in the manufacturing process
  • A lot less crude oil is required to make the same volume of plastic compared to that of steel; 11,000 litres to make 1m³ of steel; for 1m³ of plastic, only 1,000 litres.
  • 7 times lighter than the metal equivalent

Reduce weight

The landscape is continuously evolving in relation to the reduction of vehicle emissions and predominately the main way of achieving this is through reducing the vehicle weight. This is also beneficial in regard to the fuel consumption: less weight leads to less fuel consumption, whether this is electric or liquid fuel.

An igus® iglidur® polymer bearing is up to 80% lighter than a conventional metal bearing and this is without compromising on the output of the part. But do all polymer parts weigh the same no matter which material they are produced in?

The answer to that is no. igus® offers a large range of materials that are suitable for automotive interiors, all of which weigh differently, are capable of different temperature ranges and have varying chemical resistant properties.  igus® bearings weigh less than metal bearings and therefore contribute towards the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Another advantage of igus® polymer bearings is that they do not require any additional lubrication, which, ensures they are clean and environmentally friendly.  

Reduce noise

The expectations of the manufacturers within this industry is continual. Noises always arise where components interact with each other and cause friction or ‘rattling’. With the tribologically optimised high-performance polymers from igus®, you achieve a quiet application through low coefficient of friction. This is also helped by the selection of dampening materials they offer, reducing the vibrations therefore reducing noise. Plastic materials are vastly superior compared to metallic components when reduction of noise is the focus.
The variety of applications for igus® iglidur® plain bearings inside vehicles is vast, ranging from vehicle seats, hinges to actuators, steering systems, cooling fans and aerodynamic adjustment. 

If you need help reducing weight, noise or cost in your application, check out the website or ring and speak to one of the igus® experts who can visit virtually or physically today.

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If you want parts in 5 days, igus 3D printing service is what you need!

3D printing never stops evolving, and with the recent addition of the additive manufacturing process, has given designers even more freedom and flexibility in the design of special solutions. igus®materials are perfect for this innovative process: lightweight and durable, highly wear-resistant and low cost.

So, what impresses people the most when it comes to choosing the right supplier? 

Speed and cost. These two attributes are key to the success of 3D printing for igus®. Companies want partners who can deliver special solutions in small quantities, cost-effectively and fast.   Responding to new requirements quickly creates a competitive advantage in any market and that’s what gives igus® the edge. Speed sells. igus® can produce prototypes or batches within a very short time using their 3D printing services, but not only that, getting prices to the customers quickly is important. The igus® services are known for their flexibility, another key requirement and this remains paramount in every stage of ordering 3D printed parts online.

What is the main advantage of additive manufacturing?

The designer has maximum freedom in the design of the component, without having to invest in expensive steel tools with long lead times. igus® manufactures the solutions from their highly wear-resistant iglidur tribo-polymers. Tests in the igus® laboratory show that they are up to 50 times more abrasion-resistant than standard polymers and are comparable to injection-moulded parts in terms of wear resistance. They are both lightweight and quiet in motion – important criteria in many industries.

print2mold process ensures the free choice of materials

Flexibility, as mentioned earlier, is essential. Using the igus® 3D printing service, the user can choose between different manufacturing processes: they can either manufacture their component using the laser sintering process, with iglidur® I3, iglidur® I6 and I8 ESD tribo-polymers or alternatively with twelve different filaments using the FDM process. For the individual component to be made from the ideal iglidur® material for the respective application, igus® also offers the print2mold process. An injection moulding tool is printed for the special solution and is then used in the injection moulding machine. This allows the designer to make use of the total iglidur® material range of 55 tribo-polymers.

Wear-resistant components requested online

The simple online configurator system allows users to order special parts made of tribologically- optimised polymers in just a few seconds.

Simply click on the link, upload the STEP file of the component and select the appropriate material. The price for production (in the print2mold process, including the costs for the injection moulding tool) as well as information about the material, precision and flexural strength are shown online. After selecting the appropriate tribo-polymer, the user can enter the quantity and request either a quotation or order the parts. The additively manufactured special parts are shipped within 5 days after the order has been placed. In the case of the print2mold process, the injection-moulded parts are ready for shipping approximately 10 business days after the order has been confirmed. Should you need parts within 1-2 days there is a special service we can offer you.

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Can any manufactured product be classed as eco-friendly or are some simply sustainable?

The definition of eco-friendly is “not environmentally harmful”. This term can be quite misleading when referring to products. There appears to be a collective of terms under the “eco-friendly” umbrella that can be misconstrued when defining the environmental impact of products; green, sustainable and environmentally friendly to name a few.

In adverts and in the media, more and more companies are “Greenwashing” products. This is a term that implies that something doesn’t specify why it is eco-friendly and is therefore misleading consumers. It claims to be “eco-friendly” but with no evidence to reinforce this.

This discussion has raised questions at igus®, can the drylin® linear slides fall under the “eco-friendly” criteria or should the word “sustainable” be used as a more accurate description and if so why? This led to open discussions and varying opinions on the subject…

Thinking laterally, virtually all manufacturing has an impact on the environment. When you consider the processes of having to make a product:- energy, product waste, transportation etc, all means that products that initially fit the definition of eco-friendly are not actually eco-friendly. Whereas when we say something is sustainable, it means that a single attribute has a positive impact for the environment but not necessarily everything about the product. igus® drylin® products are a combination, both eco-friendly and sustainable. These products are classed as an “effective product.” These are products that are less harmful to the planet as they can be reused without having to be replaced or thrown away. This categorises igus® products perfectly.

There are many reasons why the drylin® bearing range is the most eco-friendly sustainable linear system and here are some examples:

  • It is rare that entire igus® housings need to be replaced due to wear.  Having the ability to change a polymer liner within the housing is not only cost-effective and time-saving but is also sustainable. Machine downtime is limited as replacing a liner is a quick and simple job, a lot faster than replacing complete housings.
  • No lubrication contributes towards environmental preservation, the elimination of any requirement for grease or oil is a significant environmental “win”. Also, lubrication can harbour bacteria and without the need for lubrication and with the ability of complete washdowns, it is a far more hygienic system compared to traditional ball bearing systems . In addition to this, catastrophic failure is avoided, therefore eliminating damage of associated machinery and components.
  • igus® drylin® products are lightweight which means less energy is required for transportation. drylin® is hugely utilised in industries such as automotive, railway and the aerospace industry, therefore with products many times lighter than traditional metal systems, this equates to a reduction of energy required for transportation.
  • Within the drylin® range, polymer liners are used as a low coefficient of friction surface. This low friction, without the need for seals or wipers, often results in a lower power requirement in a machine.
  • The production of igus® polymers is almost entirely free of waste, any surplus plastic is simply re-granulated and used.  The factory is accredited to ISO14001.
  • igus® has a lifetime calculator to establish the most suitable material to get the longest life span of products. This might not seem to be an environmental consideration but ensuring the best material is used to get the best lifetime ultimately means there is less requirement to replace the parts, therefore less waste.
  • All drylin® R products are 100% recyclable.

Taking all of these points into consideration, when we consider the question earlier, “can the igus® drylin® products fall under the “eco-friendly” criteria” truthfully, the answer remains ambiguous and open for interpretation. igus® drylin® products are certainly kinder to the environment than traditional metal ball bearing systems however to claim that they are eco-friendly remains difficult to justify, can any product be constituted as “eco-friendly” simply due to the manufacturing process? They should be described as the most eco-friendly sustainable linear systems available and inevitably these are still having an enormous positive impact on the planet.

igus® has invested millions of pounds into helping combat some of the environmental challenges of our time for example investment in Mura Technology and the intention is always to be as transparent as possible with customers.

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Come and join the igus® Tech up, Cost down seminars.

Working from home has become learning from home! Every day is becoming like a new school day and we find ourselves in awe of our children and their ability to absorb knowledge like a sponge, secretly wishing we still had the brain capacity to absorb as much!

Earlier in the year, igus® introduced it’s virtual exhibition which has been a huge success with visitors from all over the world. Following on from that, development of a concept, a virtual reality tour of the igus® factory was completed, allowing customers to get up close and personal from the comfort of their own home or office.

More recently the team has been conceptualising new channels that can be used to pass on product knowledge using technology that we are all now reliant on. This is vitally important to be able to continue supporting customers with applications and technical issues. In true igus® fashion interactive seminars have been introduced into the new way of communication.  

These “Tech up, Cost down” online seminars as they are fast becoming known, are quick and informative. They are run by the product managers and are designed to help give an overview of the products, without going into too much technical detail. They last around 20 to 30 minutes and allow customers to identify exactly how these products could be beneficial for their application

So why are igus offering these seminars and how are they executed?

For more than 50 years, igus® has been developing and testing technical plastics and every day, the igus® experts improve thousands of applications. Exhibitions have always been a key method for new igus® products to be released to the world, to show the capabilities and possibilities of the latest igus® technology and showcase the benefits that can be achieved. But times have changed. Exhibitions have become a thing of the past so igus® needed to think of alternative ways of getting these products out to their customers.

The seminars are a combination of expert knowledge, application examples, key benefits and a Q&A session. The customer is given an overview of what can be done: the elimination of wear and lubrication, for example, results in technical improvement or extending service intervals, amongst other things, which ultimately could lead to a reduction of costs.

These seminars also reconnect the face-to-face service that igus® customers have come to appreciate through the Microsoft Team’s platform. Physical visits are available, as they have been throughout, with sales engineers taking all the necessary precautions and following strict guidelines for customers safety and peace of mind

igus® is and always has been an innovator and it is crucial that this pandemic does not break the relationships and support that have been built over 50 years. In these times of crisis new ways to continue to support current and future customers are pioneered. The changes that are implemented now will be the new normal and igus® looks forward to welcoming you to the upcoming seminars

If you wish to sign up for a seminar please visit the website.

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