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Celebrating 21 years in the UK

18 April 2013


Plastic bearing and cable carrier expert igus UK is celebrating its 21st year in the UK. The Northampton-based company has grown considerably over the years in terms of its team and its product offering. It now has more than 80,000 products throughout its range

As one of the first global subsidiaries of the Cologne-based company, igus UK remains centrally located, both geographically and logistically, in Northamptonshire. David Chapman, MD, who was one of four founding members and started his career at igus UK as the first sales engineer, said: "Over the past two decades the UK sales team has grown considerably and has been involved with many high-profile projects, including ones in the Royal Opera House and on the London Eye.”

Today the igus product range features 10,000 E-Chain products, 1000+ cable types and 35 standard bearing materials. Design engineers from all industries have embraced igus plastic bearings and cable assembly products, from automation, robotics, aerospace and agricultural applications to wind power and woodworking.

Over the last couple of years there have been many new and exciting developments, such as robolink, a multi-axis joint for robots and lightweight automation applications. As a complete modular system, robolink combines enormous design freedom with simplicity and is particularly well-suited where masses are to be kept as low as possible. The design and development of robolink is testament to how igus supports its customers in areas in which it hasn’t typically been associated. The company won the renowned iF product design award 2011.

New conveyor concept
Pikchain is a new development at igus. It is a continually revolving chain with integrated cable and hose supply to drive and control the actuators individually. By integrating pikchain into handling and conveyor equipment, different tasks can be carried out concurrently, such as loading and unloading, stacking, gluing, clamping, turning, drilling and so on. Some conventional handling and conveyor applications in production use, which use linear motions for pick and place tasks, tend to be inefficient due to the continuous back and forth movements. By comparison, the igus pikchain operates with a continuous circular motion with no wasted start and return runs. By implementing pikchain into their equipment, machine and handling builders can realise an increase in output by as much as 30%.

At the heart of igus’ research and development are the materials: Tribo-optimised plastics are the fundamental ingredient to the success of igus’ products. Mechanical and technical challenges of dynamic modern machinery and increasing industry guidelines determine what materials can be used in specific applications and industries. As a result, new and innovative plastics that comply with the required specifications need to be produced.

For instance, igus has recently developed iglidur A350 polymer plain bearing material which is FDA-approved (Food and Drug Administration USA) and an igubal polymer material that can be recognised by metal detectors; both materials are manufactured completely from tribo-optimised plastic. The use of a visually detectable product with a colour not naturally found very often in nature is a reasonable precaution.

For this reason, blue-coloured products have become the de facto standard – bluecoloured items, ranging from plasters to hair nets, are now widely used in food preparation areas and large scale mass produced food lines, which is why igus developed a blue range of bearings designed for this industry.

iglidur N54, an ecologically friendly bearing is based on 54% sustainable and natural raw materials. The basic polymer of the new plain bearing is mainly made of castor oil, rather than finite crude oil. The company’s mechanically and tribologically optimised biopolymer is suitable for universal use in the low-load range. The introduction of the iglidur N54 biopolymer marked the first serious step towards ‘green bearings’ because the biopolymer is made from crop oil.

These are just a few examples of the new developments that have been produced within the igus laboratory. For a company that started out by simply manufacturing injection moulded components to one that now has its own R&D department and laboratory, the amount of innovative products produced is impressive; every year there are as many as 120 new products launched at the Hannover Messe event in Germany.

For more information visit www.igus.co.uk
Tel: +44(0)1604 677240