Cleanroom e-chain racks up 60 million double strokes and 18-months’ life
Posted to News on 14th Jun 2023, 09:01

Cleanroom e-chain racks up 60 million double strokes and 18-months’ life

See Igus at MachineBuilding.Live, 4 October 2023, on stand 20

Cleanroom e-chain racks up 60 million double strokes and 18-months’ life

Igus has proved the abrasion resistance of its e-skin flat energy chain with the first industry test of its kind. Not only did the clean e-chain rack up 60 million double strokes, with 18-months’ life, Igus says it is also 20% cheaper than standard ribbon cables.

Energy chains and other components designed for cleanroom environments must be certified to international standards. Cleanroom-compatible energy chains of the e-skin flat series still meet the highest cleanroom class, as the Igus test demonstrates.

The unique test was carried out in a cleanroom laboratory set up by Igus together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA).

Cleaning and dusting are never-ending; as soon as you’re happy about squeaky clean surfaces, the first new dust particles land. The situation is similar for manufacturers of displays and semiconductors, but with far more serious consequences. In such super-clean environments every particle, no matter how tiny, can damage electronic components.

In the strictest cleanroom class, ISO class 1 according to DIN 14644-1, there can be a maximum of 10 particles of 0.1 micrometres in one cubic metre of ambient air. To achieve this purity, all suppliers of components for cleanroom production plants must meet the strictest requirements. Igus has developed the e-skin flat for these applications.

The flat cable routing system made of abrasion-optimised, high-performance plastic ensures safe and particle-free management of power and data cables in moving production plants and thus achieves the standard for ISO class 1.

“The cleanroom energy chain e-skin flat is ideally suited for robots and other automation systems in electronics production, for example in semiconductor and display production,” says Justin Leonard, director of chain and e-chain systems at Igus UK. “They are so abrasion-resistant that contamination by suspended particles is no longer an issue.”

But until now, it was unclear how strong the particle abrasion in plastic is after very long and intensive use. To find out, Igus started a test setup that is unique in the e-chain industry. Part one of the experiment took place in Igus’ in-house laboratory. The energy chain moved in an environment with normal dust and dirt exposure for about 18-months, carrying out 60 million double strokes during this time.

Part two of the test took place in a cleanroom laboratory, which Igus built with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA), the development and certification partner of Igus for over 17-years, in Cologne. At its heart are three so-called laminar flow boxes with high-performance filters that enable tests in uncontaminated air. Here, the e-chain moved for 100 minutes, while sensors detected the concentration of particles in the ambient air. “Even after 60 million double strokes, our e-chain e-skin flat has still reached the highest cleanroom class. It is an insight that gives operators of cleanroom productions additional security,” says Leonard.

Modular design for flexible filling

The e-skin flat performs both with its extreme abrasion resistance and also its modular design. If a defect occurs on a profile in which the cables are inserted, the user only needs to replace this single module. Many commercially available solutions would require the entire system to be replaced. In addition, the module plug-in mode allows individual profiles to be connected to each other. The cable routing system thus grows with the requirements and guarantees protection of your investment.

When combined with the specially adapted chainflex stranding structure called CFCLEAN, the complete system offers a very high level of reliability. In addition, the complete system has globally recognised certification from the renowned US standards organisation Underwriters Laboratories (UL). And last but not least, the cable guides are 9dB (A) quieter and 20% cheaper than standard ribbon cables on the market.

igus (UK) Ltd

51A Caswell Road

+44 (0)1604 677240

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