Igus presented the results of its fifth manus competition for plastic plain bearings at an awards ceremony during the recent Hanover Trade show. The expert judging panel received 301 entries from 28 countries. Due to the enormous success of previous manus competitions, the contest for design engineers accepted entries from all over the world for the first time this year, in co-operation with academic partners such as the Institute for Composite Materials. The search was on again for innovative applications using lubricant- and maintenance-free plastic bearings that are characterised by technical or economic efficiency and creativity. Any applications using a solid plastic plain bearing and plastic compounds was eligible for entry, but not applications using plastic-coated bearings.
Around 80 entries were received for the last manus competition, which accepted entries from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This year, there were 301 entries from all over the world.
Gold: Hygienic design for Spanish omelettes
The judges awarded the gold manus award and prize money of EUR5000 to Carmelo Lagunas, a design engineer from Tuleda in Spain, for his machine that produces potato omelettes (see photo). This machine can make more than 1800 tortillas de patatas per hour. The pans for the individual omelettes are moved in rows of four through the machine. In the hot and greasy environment - involving long-term temperatures between 40 to 70degC and short-term temperatures up to 175degC during the frying process - lubrication and maintenance-free iglidur Z plastic plain bearings from igus are used due to the high loads and temperatures. Plain bearings made from iglidur A200, which comply with the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are used in places where direct food contact is involved. The resistance of the bearings to the chemicals in cleaning agents is another important reason why they are used.
Silver: Portuguese blade strikes stones with great impact
The silver manus award and EUR2500 went to Marco Portocarrero from the company Produlex Lda in Caminha near Porto. His newly developed disc mower has self-sharpening blades that can even cut through thin tree trunks during forest clearing work. Robust, heavy-duty bearings made of the polymer material iglidur Q from igus link the support and the blade shafts of the disc mower. With a tensile strength of 14,000N, the blade rotation adapts to the balance between centrifugal force and cutting resistance and can rotate completely around its own axis when the impact is particularly hard - such as when the blade strikes a stone. The plastic plain bearing, as the central blade link, takes the whole force of the impact.
Bronze: Wear-free fingers
The bronze manus award and EUR1000 prize money went to Dr Stefan Schulz, Managing Director of Vincent Systems GmbH in Weingarten, Germany, a company that specialises in medical prostheses and robots. The company developed a hand prosthesis with power-driven fingers. The basic finger joint is moved directly by a gear motor and the central joint is moved via a spring link. All the axes involved in this movement are fitted with plain bearings made from iglidur J from igus, which is a plastic material distinguished by an extremely low coefficient of friction and long service life. The plastic bushings were machined from iglidur bar stock. The eight bearings per finger absorb static, pulsating and oscillating loads in a very small space.
In addition to the above awards, the judges awarded a special manus award for exceptional creativity to Frank Spenling, Head of Product Design at Archimedes Consulting in Berlin, Germany. The company developed a robotic head that can express emotions and react to the facial expressions of a person facing it. Plastic plain bearings from igus were "the key components in the whole design structure", explained Spenling, in order to achieve a low-clearance, long-life, and compact design. The bearings are fitted in each rotating joint.
Details of the winners can be found on the igus website, and a 240-page brochure can be downloaded.