igus releases more new products in 2020/21 than previous year
Motion plastics company igus launched more innovative products in 2020 than the previous year, it reports – from integrated robotic drives to ball bearings with 21 times the high-speed service life. – despite the covid-19 pandemic.
“By investing in digitalisation, better logistics and remote technology, igus increased online sales by 30% cent in 2020,” says the company. “This spring, igus launched more new products in 2021 than ever before, including 168 tribopolymer products, many of which have strong sustainability credentials.”
Many of these products had their first public viewing at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition in April and several new innovations were also presented at the igus in-house physical-virtual exhibition, which customers can visit online. This exhibition has just been awarded the ‘iF Design Award’ and will be completely renewed to visitors from 5 May.
ReBeL accelerates low-cost automation
Following two years of development, the ReBeL, a new robot drive product, is on show at the virtual exhibition. Customers can quickly design their own robotic arms from the modular system for very low cost. The core component of the ReBeL is said to be a greatly improved plastic gearbox.
An integrated BLDC (brushless DC) electric motor with power electronics can be connected with different controls, and a suitable downloadable low-cost control system from igus is available free of charge, so that the automation can be simulated in advance.
For industrial robot applications, igus is launching a solution with the TRX power supply that has reimagined how robot hose packages are assembled. The Triflex extends, lengthens and shortens telescopically, and the cables are inserted in the form of a spiral. This allows a weight saving of 83 per cent on the third axis, in less than half of the space.
Dry-running ball bearings with 21x service life
This year, igus has also launched new products in all areas of lubrication-free and maintenance-free storage technology. Working on the igus range of ball bearings, igus engineers have achieved a breakthrough in their service life; for low load and high-speed applications, the service life was increased by a factor of 21. "What lasted a month now lasts almost two years," explains Dean Aylott, manager for xiros ball bearings. These bearings are particularly suitable for use in fans and centrifuges, products that run for long periods.
Plastic becomes sustainable resource
To make these lubricating plastic products not only less polluting in their application, but also carbon neutral and, post-service life, recyclable, is part of the mission at igus. The company’s new factory, currently under construction, will be carbon neutral from the outset, it states, and by 2025 this will apply to igus’s entire main factory site.
To reduce emissions further, igus has invested in several energy-saving processes – for example, in airline suction and filtering – and it has bought many energy-efficient injection moulding machines, which save up to 40% energy, compared with others. In addition to mechanical recycling of polymer material in the igus ‘chainge’ range, igus is investing in new chemical recycling.
Investment stepped up
For instance, igus increased its investment in Mura Technology to €5 million, where Mura's HydroPRS technology converts plastic waste back into oil. Total investment in this company increased by 29% in 2020.
igus invested heavily into online shops and online tools during the pandemic. All igus web shops have been upgraded and made more informative for customers. New online tools for the configuration and calculation of gears, rollers, linear modules and stepper motors are now available on the internet free of charge and without registration.
“The offer of simple online parts configuration and ordering together with the short delivery time has been valued by many customers, and online sales rose by 30 per cent worldwide,” adds igus. Increasing the capacity of machinery and raw material warehouses from Q3 2020 is now helping provide fast delivery times as the economy recovers.
Change as a duty and an opportunity
"Politics, technology, mobility, entertainment, climate and health – the world is changing rapidly at the moment," says igus managing director Frank Blase. "We want to be active designers. That is why I am proud of my igus colleagues who have worked, changed and improved in these times." Since 13 March last year, most teams have been working mainly from home.
"The fact that everything changes means, for our industry, that everyone makes new products and everyone needs new machines. This can trigger a huge boom for our customers and us in the coming years," adds Blase.