Igus is introducing some interesting products alongside its cable-bound chain systems, namely inductive and wireless data transmission systems. The key advantages of the new developments include compact size, easy assembly, higher speeds, lower noise and increased wear resistance. Meanwhile, it is continuing to introduce numerous new Energy Chains and cables.
Ongoing product simplifications are an important factor for Igus currently, a fact exemplified by the company's commitment to offering new and upgraded internet tools, such as its online catalogues, product configurators and service life calculators. The company now offers these for thirty-one countries in seventeen different languages via its website.
High speed, low noise
The T3 Band Chain, for applications involving very high speeds and accelerations, runs with minimum vibration and virtually no noise (33 dB(A) with 26.5 dB(A) of background noise). The side bands are injection-moulded as one piece, thereby reducing production costs and increasing affordability. Available ex-stock, this Energy Chain was developed primarily for applications in the electronics industry, as well as for measuring machines, high-speed handling systems, graphic machines and linear motors.
An alternative product for these applications is the E6 Energy Chain, which is now available with an inner height of 35mm. Both chains are suitable for cleanrooms because they suffer virtually no wear. The same applies to the LeviChain released at the 2006 Hanover Fair. This energy chain floats within a magnetic force field and was deemed cleanroom-compatible by the Fraunhofer IPA Institute just prior to the 2007 exhibition.
Another new release is the E4.1, an Energy Chain that combines all the key advantages developed in the past for series E4, E4/4 and E4.100 in a single product. These benefits include: a base grip for lateral stability over long distances; rubber nubs that act as silent brakes; and external and internal straps for fast assembly. The chains are also dirt-repellent and have a smooth, wear-resistant surface.
Suitable for use in conjunction with E4.1, the new Quicklok crossbar mechanism is a rapid locking device that allows the opening links of a chain to be effortlessly opened and closed with a screwdriver. This design is useful for very full chains that need to be repaired, or when fast retrofitting work needs to be carried out.
Energy Chains for vertical applications
Another new product is the Guidelok system for vertical applications, where hanging chains are kept in place even when there are high transverse accelerations. Thanks to this new design, applications in aisle stackers, lifts, hoists or material handling equipment, for example, no longer require expensive casings. The Energy Chain is held in place inside a trough by two tilting levers automatically activated by the radius. This means that the Energy Chain cannot swing out or deviate to the side, even on masts up to 40m high. The Guidelok system captures and contains the Energy Chain within the trough.
The new P4 profile roller chain was awarded an iF product design award at the 2007 Hanover Fair. This chain features Autoglide crossbars, making it both faster and quiet. The upper run rollers pass through the lower run rollers, not over them as in previous designs.
Both the P4 and the new heavy-duty roller Energy Chain 5050RHDAX are suitable for outdoor cranes. The latter has stop dogs only on the outside of the side links, so they do not clog with dirt. Other potential applications include power plants, coal conveyors, mining and woodworking machines.
Condition monitoring for preventive maintenance against mechanical damage has become an increasingly important part of large-scale Energy Chain Systems. Igus launched its PPDS condition monitoring system for cranes at the 2006 Hanover show, but the 2007 show saw the introduction of PPDS Easy, a slimmed-down version that includes an automatic emergency shutdown in case of overload.
Igus claims that trends in cable management over the past few years have come to incorporate robotics, too; from heavy production robots to small palletising robots. The company therefore offers multi-dimensional Energy Chains to protect highly stressed cables on robots. At the 2007 Hanover show, Igus presented two new sizes of its Triflex R product range: TRC/TRE.85 and "TRC/TRE.30. The former is for welding applications and the latter for narrow bending radii on six-axis mini-robots. For multi-axis applications, Igus now also has its single-core, torsion resistant Chainflex CF Robot cable.
Another new cable product, this time for the crane engineering and material handling industry, is the TPE fibre optical cable CFLG.6G.TC. Tested in the Igus in-house technical centre down to temperatures of -40degC, this cable can supply cranes with data even in Arctic regions.
Non-contact power and signal transmission
As a leading supplier of components and systems to dynamically supply energy and data, Igus is also researching new opportunities in the field of non-contact technology. With 'invis power', the company has now unveiled a complete product family for inductive energy transmission over distances up to 400m. Here, just as with its cable-bound systems, Igus relies on a modular design principle. Instead of a long and tedious installation project, the customer receives a simple selection of components to implement one or several built-on sockets. Contactless - and therefore involving no friction or wear - invis power offers maintenance-free outputs with a net efficiency of 92 to 94 per cent that range from 5-40kVA, depending on the requirements of the customer.
For wireless data transmission, Igus offers invis data. A high-frequency signal (eg USB 2.0 or FireWire 1394a/b) is converted into a light signal in a coupler, transmitted via glass OWG, and then converted back into an electric signal and transported further via copper cable. This is said to be the best way to transport large data quantities quickly, safely and inexpensively without any disturbance by electromagnetic fields.