Moving on: igus presents new designs amidst pandemic

The exhibition, which saw 168 new designs, was transmitted via livestream.

Moving on: igus presents new designs amidst pandemic

Igus recently presented its Motion Plastics Show. The press conference, which was carried out via a livestream, saw developers and engineers showcasing their latest designs and products across the large exhibition space. The conference also marked the second consecutive year in which the exhibition was held virtually as a result of the pandemic.

Innovation in the face of adversity

A key component of this press conference was the emphasis on innovation. The 168 new designs boast stronger product life, greater wear resistance, and higher efficiencies. These new creations were achieved against the backdrop of the larger pandemic crisis; to cope with the current COVID-19 situation, many of igus’ engineers are working from home with few visits to the testing labs, often using creative ways to create and test their new designs in their backyards with materials found at home.

“Home office is a great challenge, especially for the design and testing department,” said Michael Blass, chief executive officer of igus e-chain systems. “We have succeeded in combining the concentrated development of ideas in the home office with haptic testing and implementation here in the laboratory. We often build small test stands ourselves in the home office and confirmed the results here in the test lab. Hybrid is key.”

The current situation has also demanded an alternative in terms of customer service: igus offers virtual visits, which include assembly support and drawings, as well as a demonstration of the machine’s application, and interactive presentation for designers and other stakeholders. This works in tandem with the IF Design Award-winning igus trade show booth. Furthermore, the online shop has also provided customers with necessary information on price, service life, and delivery period, facilitating a smooth ordering and delivery process.

Launch of new products

The highlight of the press conference was the demonstration of igus’ new products and designs from their 2020/21 line-up. Notable introductions include the AX500 plain bearings, and the A180, both of which are safe for food contact and are suited for use in the food and beverage industry.

The new iglidur AX500 plain bearings, with its ESD and EU 10/2011 sustainability, was developed precisely for its use in the food and beverage industry. It boasts a water-resistant and high temperature material, being able to withstand up to 250C. The high-performance bearing is also strongly wear-resistant, particularly for use with chemicals and water-cleaning.

Of the AX500’s attributes, Tobias Vogel, chief executive officer of Bearings & Linear Technology, said that the combination of the EU 10/2011 compliancy, alongside similar rates of wear resistance and coefficient of friction with past iglidur X materials, was a big step for very high technical application in the food industry. This is further emphasised through the AX500’s greaseless, plastic design, making it optimal for machines that undergo an automatic cleaning process every few hours with strong chemicals.

Another key product of the conference was the iglidur A180 plain bearing, which is made from 100% FDA-compliant material and is thus ideal for contact with food. The large grooves of the A180 allow it to be washed easily, making it suitable not only for the food and beverage industry but also for the medical industry. Of the groove design, Gerhard Baus, VP and head of Business Bearings at igus, remarked that the bearing’s thick grooves can be cleaned easier than small edges – a hygienic design that is vital to the food industry process.

A stronger dedication to sustainability

Wrapping up the press conference, igus CEO Frank Blase reiterated igus’ commitment to sustainable practices. Through the chainge Recycling Program, all e-chains are recycled at the end of their lifetime. Furthermore, the company has invested in Mura Technologies, which enable plastic waste to be recycled back into oils – contributing to the circular economy that allows plastic to become a reusable resource.

Blase also highlighted how the young apprentices in Germany have been applying themselves to the recycling and refurbishing of electronic waste produced by igus, and in return selling them back to igus’ associates and their families for under 100 euros as functional devices. This initiative was also partially motivated by the need for electronics and laptops during the pandemic.

“The young people, below twenty, below thirty years-old, they insist, they demand, they force us to act, and this is a good thing. Together, I think we will get on the right track,” said Blase, when asked about the company’s challenges in transitioning to a sustainable model during the pandemic.

Igus also has plans to create a “green tree lung” to achieve CO2 neutrality, which would see the planting of trees and plants together in their new parking space. This is part of igus’ efforts to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions on their facilities, and will be located in the middle of their campus. Furthermore, igus is currently in the process of determining their CO2 footprint.

The new factory building currently under construction is also set to be climate-neutral in its inception, and by 2025 all other igus factories will follow suit. Within its production process, igus has also implemented new state-of-the-art injection moulding machines that save up to 40% energy, reducing emissions.

Altogether, the press conference marks igus’ commitment to greater innovation in the face of a global pandemic.

This article was published in Food & Beverage Asia June/July 2021 Issue.