Welcome to Taiwan!

The iglide car has arrived in Taiwan!

Our first stop in the country is Taichung City, in the Western part of the country. Taichung is also the home to our Taiwanese office, where the car and I received a warm welcome. It felt good as always to be reunited with the iglide car; after spending so much time together over the past months I’ve grown attached!

The first day in Taiwan, we were stuck waiting for driving permits for the country, but still managed to explore a bit and have some fun – someone managed to get our dry-tech box away from us and add it as a prize in an arcade machine!

After a day of waiting, we received all the proper permits for the car – the tour can officially begin!

Coming to then end of the South Korean tour

Our journey through South Korea has come to an end. The trip was short – but very sweet! We explored the entirety of the country, and visited many of our beloved customers.

Coming to then end of the South Korean tour

Busan was our last stop in South Korea, the country’s second largest city, and one of the busiest seaports worldwide. Busan is also home to one of our customers, UNICK, a automotive parts specialist. The company’s core is their production and distribution of solenoid valves, which are frequently used to control elements in fluids.

Coming to then end of the South Korean tour.2

The valves are supposed to shut off, release, distribute, or mix fluids. For a solenoid valve that is located in the gear shift, they rely on an igus piston ring. The self-lubricating ring ensures a smooth linear motion.

Mr. Park, the Head Engineer at UNICK, said he appreciates the high wear resistance, low price, and the fact that the ring is easy to assemble. He also stressed the high reliability, and mentioned that he hasn’t had any problems so far with igus components.

https://youtu.be/eAEyI6gTvnY

As we had time to spend 2 days in Busan, I had the chance to see what the city is all about. I really like that is it located in a mountainous area at the coast. They are many places where you can overlook the city and the sea. I’ve heard, though, that come summer, these views won’t let you see the sand – just people and umbrellas!

Coming to then end of the South Korean tour.3

From Busan, we headed back in the direction of Incheon, located close to Seoul where we have our South Korean igus branch. There, I’ll have to leave the car for a few days again before heading off to Taiwan! On the way back to Incheon, we visited a village completely the opposite of thriving Busan. The village is calm and preserved as a traditional Korean one.

Coming to then end of the South Korean tour.4

I want to take this moment to say a big THANK YOU! to my Korean colleagues. Thank you for your great hospitality and support; it was an awesome trip!  The next post will be in Taiwan – I’ve heard the country offers incredible natural scenery like high mountains, canyons, and tropical beaches. I’m looking forward to seeing the iglide car there!

See you in Taiwan!

Sascha

Traveling Back South

We’ve already visited the major areas of South Korea, from beautiful coastlines in the East, to the famous mountain range in the North, and we’ve even made it up close to the dangerous North Korean border. Now, we’re across the country, in the South. On our way, we stopped in for a visit at Hanmac Electronics, one of our South Korean customers.

Traveling Back South

Hanmac molds plastic parts for appliances like refrigerators and washing machines. They rely on igus bearings for a plastic component located at the bottom of a washing machine. The plastic plate contains two rollers that rotate throughout the washing process. keeping water in circulation, and avoiding tangled clothes.

Each of the rollers is placed on a shaft embedded in two bearings. Before discovering iglide bearings, Hanmac had tested several other bearings, but all failed as they couldn’t not ensure fast, constant motions, while being water and chemical resistant. They eventually chose iglide H bearings, which are specifically produced for underwater applications. This was able to free Hanmac from further bothersome, expensive tests.

Traveling Back South.2

Mr. Yong Lee, the Chief Engineer at Hanmac, stressed the durability and chemical resistance of iglide H, as well as his support for igus! He says he is a big fan of our 24 hour or today shipping policy!

https://youtu.be/yY9rTLIaKRE

South Korea is a very modern country with a well developed infrastructure. This is not only nice for relaxing drives in our iglide car, but its good for the car, too! I felt it was time to stress the car a bit more, so I decided to take it for a little off-roading. Of course, the iglide bearings are all used to contend with dirt and dust in rough applications, so they are still in tip-top shape!

For the weekend, we’re planning on staying in Busan. Located in the South of Korea, Busan is the second largest metropolis in the country, after Seoul. Moreover, Busan is the world’s busiest cargo seaport. I’m looking forward to exploring soon!

I’ll let you know what happens!

Sascha

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch

Classical music, chandeliers, and delicious food… I’m not talking about a romantic 5-star restaurant, but the Press Conference for the iglide tour in South Korea!

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch

Ernie Kim, the Country Manager, welcomed journalists, and kicked off the fourth conference for “iglide on tour.”  Only 3 speakers were scheduled; Hyungtea Kim, the iglide bearings Product Manager, followed Ernie, introducing several applications in the iglide car, as well as presenting our igus range of products. Last but not least, I spoke about the retrofitting of the car, and shared my experiences over the past 3 months (three months already?!?). All in all, it was a great press conference, with even more journalists than expected.

We traveled to the traditional port city of Donghea – home to a beautiful white sand beach that stretches for miles, and many small seafood restaurants lined up along the shore. All our bearings are corrosion-resistant and can stand salty sea water, and we had a lovely view of Korea’s famously pretty seashore.

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch.2

From Donghea, we headed North along the coast. The landscape gradually changed, getting more and more mountainous. We stopped to take in some of the most beautiful mountain views I have ever seen at the Taebaek mountain range, located inside a National Park. The distinct shape of the mountains, dozens of waterfalls, and diversity of wildlife makes this area a major travel destination from all over Korea. We climbed more than a mile up the Seoraksan Mountain, one of the most famous in Korea.

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch.3

Surely, I don’t need to tell you that the Korean penninsula is split in half by the most heavily armed border in the world; North and South Korea are still at “open war” with one another. After the Korean War in the 1950’s, a mile wide strip of land was established as a buffer zone. Also called the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, the buffer was worked out between the Koreas, China, and the United Nations as part of an agreement. We were allowed to enter the DMZ with the iglide car after a lengthy registration process.

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch.4

In the photo above, the barbed wire fence is what marks the border between South and North Korea. Being this close to the fence – such a focus of International Relations and politics – has been one of the highlights for me on the trip so far.

We are currently in Seoul, where you do not get the feeling that there is any threat of an attack from the North. Look a little closer, and you can see that the situation really is quite serious. Just look at this rocket launcher, located on a hill above Seoul, likely serving to intercept rockets incoming from the North.

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch.5

That’s all from me at the moment, I will be back with more updates soon.

-Sascha

Caring for your cables

Cables are really the lifelines of any machine. They supply the power, data, etc. to the right components, and without them, nothing works. So why let cables take the abuse of rubbing, tangling, pulling, and bending when you can protect them easily with a cable carrier system?

Cable carriers guide and protect the cables and hoses on moving machinery. They prevent tangling and damage from debris or contact with the machine itself. Using cable carriers can extend the service life of both your cables, and the machine itself. Any application that involved moving machines and repetitive motion will benefit from a cable carrier system. They’re used on applications ranging from machine tools, automated robots, in cleanrooms, and on ship-to-shore cranes.

igus has it’s own line of cable carriers, called Energy Chain Systems. They are made entirely of plastic, so they are light in weight, and they are also maintenance-free and resistant to corrosion and wear. Plastic Energy Chains can replace metal or steel carriers in almost any application. They are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles; from micro-chains for very small applications, E-Z Chains for quick assembly, special chains for very low noise and vibrations, and even fully enclosed tubes for applications with flying debris, and multi-axis carriers for robotic applications.

Cable carriers are often forgotten in the design process – but shouldn’t be!! The cable carrier is a crucial part of any machine’s design, and should be considered early on in the design stages. They can be implemented to move in a variety of ways, most commonly in a horizontal, unsupported run with a short travel length. (See image below Left) In an application like this, the upper span of the carrier operates without touching the lower run throughout the entire length of travel. The maximum length that can be unsupported is different for each application, but an unsupported application will have the longest service life.

In the travel length is too long to be unsupported, the cable carrier can run on itself in a gliding fashion (See image below Right). Just a note- in a gliding application like this, a guide trough and glide bar should be used.

 

Choosing the Perfect Cable Carrier

There is a huge variety of cable carriers available, but which one would be best for your application? Follow these guidelines to choose the best fit your your application.

1. Gather Your Data

Before jumping to purchase and install a cable carrier on your machine, its necessary to gather all the technical data first. This includes your application’s length of travel, what cables or hoses you’re planning on installing in the carrier as well as their weight, and environmental factors like debris, heat, chemicals, speed, or acceleration.

2. Find the largest cable/hose in the system

The first question any cable carrier manufacturer will ask when you’re planning your carrier system is “What’s the largest hose or cable in your machine?” This will determine the minimum size of the carrier. To the diameter of the cable or hose, we add space to ensure proper clearance – 10% for cables and 20% for hoses – and the result is the minimum dimensions for the inner height of your carrier.

 

3. Style, style, style

The next decision is about what style carrier would work best in your application. Its recommended that you choose a carrier that snaps open whenever possible, allowing easier access to cables at any point along the carrier. If debris or other external conditions can be an issue, tube style carriers replace the link crossbars with lids, for a fully protected system. This is especially useful in applications where woodchips, metal shavings or other debris may be present. igus has created cable carriers with special features like split crossbars, zipper-like closure systems, or hinged crossbars. These are all styles that allow for easy installation and replacement of cables and hoses as needed, minimizing assembly and disassembly time. Carriers are also available for heavy-duty applications with long travels, using hinged crossbars that open from either side for flexible access as needed.

4. Consider the Environment

The environmental conditions of an application are a good way to determine what style of cable carrier to use. If debris is present, like woodchips or metal shavings, or if the carrier is operating in a contaminated area, an enclosed tube is your best bet. An open crossbar carrier system is great for easy inspection and replacement of cables in applications where this is a common occurrence. You should also consider whether the application is underwater or comes into contact with liquids or chemicals.

5. Bend Radius

All cable carriers have a predetermined radius stopping point on each link. When several links are assembled these points restrict the carrier from fully pivoting, forming a curve loop or minimum bend radius. Cable carriers have several bend radii to choose from, and the manufacturers typically suggest a minimum bend radius. Generally, the rule is 8-10 times the outer diameter of the largest cable or hose in the system. The larger the bend radius, the less stree placed on the cables, and the longer the service life will be. Just a note: the bend radius is measured from the center of the curve loop to the center of the pivot pin on the side link – don’t get confused and measure the overall curve height!

6. Cable and Hose Package

Since the purpose of a cable carrier system is to ensure that cables bend properly, then it is imperative to install the conduits correctly! To ensure the best possible service life in your machine, its recommended to used cables that have been specifically designed to use in a cable carrier, like igus’ Chainflex continuous-flex cables.   Special features like a strain-relieving core and  special jacket and shield designs ensure that these cables will be able to complete millions of cycles without failure in continually-moving machines.

7. Cable carrier length

To determine how long your cable carrier needs to be, first determine the position of the fixed end of the carrier. Ideally (and most cost effectively,) the fixed end should be positioned at the center of travel. This requires the least amount of carrier to move the necessary distance.

8. Acceleration and Inertia

It’s essential to ensure that the cable carrier you choose is strong enough to support your application. If it isn’t, the results can be devastating – a carrier can literally be snapped in two if the overload is great enough. To make sure your carrier selection will do the job, use the following formula to determine the force required to keep your application up and running:

First, determine the acceleration force. This is the force required to keep the carrier moving once it’s started.

Acceleration force (lb) = Total Weight lb (carrier and fill) x Acceleration ft/sec2

Then determine the push force, or the force required to get the carrier moving and overcome inertia.

    Push Force (lb) = Total Weight x COF
    Once these two values are determined, calculate the force of the application by adding them together: Acceleration force + Push force = Force required.

The force must be less than the maximum force for the cable carrier selected. Carrier manufacturers typically don’t publish the maximum force allowance for their products, but igus technicians will calculate the force your application requires, and help you select the best carrier to meet these requirements.

9. Accessories

A variety of accessories are available to further facilitate the energy supply system for your machine, including:

Interior separators and shelves to properly align cables and prevent friction, tangles or corkscrewing. These are available in horizontal or vertical layouts (See above image).

Mounting brackets, which are almost always needed to attach the carrier to the machine. Plastic or steel brackets are available in one-piece designs for small carriers. Others have aluminum bushings in the bracket to prevent damage when tightening bolts. These can either pivot for most applications, or lock into place for vertical or side-mounted gliding applications.

Guide troughs are available for long applications, and for even longer travels, available rollers can be used.

Extender crossbars are available is oversized conduits are needed.

Strain relief is a common way to keep cables in position at either end of the carrier. Sometimes, strain relief is only needed on one side, and other times both side should be relieved. Strain relief can be made up of rails, clamps, or wraps. Imporper strain relief is a very common cause for failure, and while it may seem insignificant, can often make or break the success of an application.

To learn more about igus’ Energy Chain cable carrier systems, visit the E-chain page at igus.com/echains.

iglide advantages

Did you know you can lower costs by using iglide bearings in solar power plants?

iglide advantages

On our way from Asan to the East  Coast, we passed a huge hybrid solar field. This field in particular created more than 40 megawatts, making it the largest in Asia.

iglide advantages.2

The company that runs this field is using iglide G300 flanged bearings in the hinges of the solar panels. The panels move with the sun, and the iglide bearings ensure the smooth motion of the panels, and will not seize up with dirt, dust, pollen, and other outdoor debris.

Operating and maintaining a solar field is very expensive. To save costs, the company decided to switch to iglide plastic bearings. All igus bearings are self-lubricating and maintenance-free, and are much lower in cost than traditional metal bearings. igus iglide bearings offer long life at low acquisition costs.

iglide advantages.4

Customers from all over the world rely on igus products, including ContentsLab LLC. The company’s solar power system can be installed either on its own, or in combination with a wind turbine to use borh renewable forms of energy in a hybrid way. iglide G300 plain bearings are used at all bearing points of the system.

Now in South Korea!

We’ve arrived in South Korea! I’m hoping our tour of the country continues as smoothly as its started off.  It was a new experience to have the iglide car ready for me to jump in and drive as soon as I arrive – No 2 days spent in the customs office, and no struggle for a driving permit. igus Korea set up a shaman ceremony for the car when we first arrived – complete with a pig’s head. That must have worked to protect us against bad luck!

Since we started our tour, we’ve driven more than 6,200 miles across roads, deserts, through mountains and along the ocean shore. Our iglide car is still running perfectly on the 56 plastic bearings we’ve installed – and we’ve got another 1,200 miles planned through Korea over the next few weeks.

Now in South Korea!

We took off from the igus branch in Incheon the day after I had arrived, and we headed off towards Asan.  After being in crowded China, I’d say that Asan, with its 290,000 citizens is a nice little village. We made a stop at one of our customers, Leepack Co. Ltd.

Leepack is the leading Korean manufacturer for intermittent rotary packaging systems. The company’s product portfolio ranges from filling units and vacuum packing systems to rotary fill-and-seal machines. Because their machines are dealing with food, they need products that are corrosion free. igus products have been able to help Leepack in many ways besides corrosion resistance. Mr Lee, the company’s Vice President, had this to say about what he likes about igus products:

https://youtu.be/0SCdkj86oAc

He also talked about how long his company has been relying on igus solutions:

https://youtu.be/OYgl42o6-xA

In Asan, I went out to dinner with some of the Korean igus team, and I had the chance to enjoy a real Korean barbeque. I loved it! Basically, it is a table filled with meats, vegetables, and fish, with a grill in the center to cook whatever you choose. One of my favorite new dishes is kimchi. It’s a traditional Korean side dish of cabbage soaked in brine and spices. You can eat it with everything – personally, I love it on grilled meat!

As for the tour, we will be meeting up with more South Korean customers and exploring the country over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be sure to keep you updated!

Sascha

Re-introducing the ‘iglide on tour’ car!

Hi everyone! We’ve all been enjoying the exciting journey of our iglide car across India, China, and now traveling onto South Korea. We’ve enjoyed seeing exotic landscapes, interesting customers, and the fun incidents that happen with any road trip, but what about our little orange car?

If you haven’t heard, we at igus are celebrating the 30th anniversary of our iglide self-lubricating plastic bearings. Seeing as this anniversary ties in perfectly with igus’ 50th birthday, we decide to celebrate in style. Our ‘iglide on tour’ car was stripped down entirely, then reassembled before hitting the road, specially retrofit with 56 plastic iglide bearing components to be put to the ultimate test – 60,000 miles in 9 months around the globe.

The bearings our team installed into the car are working in applications from the windshield wipers and window regulators, to the throttle valve and gear shift. From now on, we will continue to follow Sascha and the iglide car on their travels, but also explore more about what those 56 iglide bearings are doing, and why they’re a great solution for cars, trucks, and tons of other applications.

Lets’s take a look at the first place we’re using iglide inside:

Before sending an orange customized car on a 60,000 mile world tour, igus replaced 56 of the car’s standard parts with iglide plastic bearings, including one bearing in the throttle valve.

The throttle takes the place of a carburetor on newer vehicles, and works by directly regulating the amount of air able to enter the engine, indirectly controlling the engine’s charge (the combination of fuel and air).

In the throttle valve, a combination aluminum/plastic bearing from an unknown manufacturer was stripped out, and retrofit with a standard iglide X6 bushing. The X6 material is extraordinarily resistant against high temperatures, and has a lifetime 6 times longer than its predecessor, iglide T500, in high temperature applications. The X6 bearing is able to withstand the long-term application temperatures that a bearing would experience inside the throttle valve. The material is resistant to temperatures of up to 482ºF, and short term application temperatures of 599º are possible. Very low temperature applications are also possible with X6, as low as -148º – much lower than any car would typically encounter. The iglide X6 material also has up to 50% better press-fit with higher temperatures, meaning that it is resistant to relaxation up to 329ºF. At this point, the bearing should be axially secured, whereas iglide T500 must be secured at 275ºF. All plastics will relax once they reach a certain temperature, meaning they will shrink down to the size of the space they are pressed into.

The iglide X6 material is also resistant against a number of caustic materials, most importantly the gasoline and diesel fuels that the throttle comes into constant contact with, and it also possesses a very low moisture absorption rate to minimize the risk of the bearing swelling and eliminating necessary clearance. X6, like all iglide materials, has very low wear and friction characteristics, and is self-lubricating and maintenance-free thanks to the materials inclusion of tiny particles of solid lubricant that coat the shaft as friction occurs.

In this particular application, the bearing in the throttle valve moves in an oscillating fashion against the partner pin which is made from steel. The function of the bearing is to provide the rotational movement of the throttle valve mechanism. The iglide X6 material, like all iglide bearing materials, has been extensively tested in a variety of real-life application settings. The results from these tests have been compiled into an extensive database, which was used to create a lifetime prediction calculator for iglide bearings.

Celebrating 30 years of iglide with a tour around the world

To celebrate 30 years of their iglide plastic bearings, igus is sending its little car on a big trip around the world. Last year, 200 million iglide bearings were installed in cars and trucks, and now igus is truly putting them to the test. The iglide car has been retrofit with 56 iglide bearings in areas including the alternator, gear shift, window regulators, convertible top, pedals, and more.

Starting in India, the car will be shipped across oceans, then drive across countries, stopping along the way at igus customers, subsidiaries, partners, and trade shows, connecting igus worldwide. On July 20th, the car will arrive in the US via Anchorage, Alaska, where it will begin its journey from ocean to ocean on a ten-week North American tour before continuing on to Europe. The tour ends in Germany at the Hannover K Trade Fair, where the car will be stripped down to see how the bearings fared their worldwide journey.

For more information, visit www.igus.com/iglideontour.

Perfection

Surrounded by blooming trees, dozens of customers had the chance to get a closer look at our products and get advice for their applications.

Mr. Wei is one of these visitors. He works in the design department of the biggest manufacturer of agricultural machinery in China. Specializing in tractors, he is quite familiar with igus products. “We’re using them in a wide range of applications,” Mr. Wei told me. “For example, in the ladder, the window, door hinges, and the diesel engine.” Mr. Wei uses igus bearings wherever possible. He said matter of factly “They have a very high quality.”  Mr. Wei knows what he’s talking about! When he studied engineering in Germany, he was able to get his hands on many high-quality products.  During his studies, he also picked up German!

https://youtu.be/M5ucaN7hCvw

Something that comes to mind when I think about China are the traditions today that originated thousands of years ago. One of these still impressive relics of the past is the Shaolin monk, who serves Buddha and is famous worldwide for their practice of Kung Fu.

Perfection

Shaolin monks only have one monastery in the world, located in the Eastern part of China. Recent studies were able to trace its origins back as far as 477 BC.

There is no evidence of when the Buddhist monks began practicing Kung Fu. Some sources say that in the year 600 the monastery sent 13 of its monks to support the emperor in war. Since then, they have worked at perfecting the art of Kung Fu.

A graveyard at the monastery. The height of the tombstone reflects the rank of the Shaolin Monk

After the monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s, it was rebuilt in the 90’s and opened for visitors. There was a big debate within the order of the monks regarding what policy they should pursue. In the end, the monks’ traditions were highly commercialized. For instance, there are Shaolin monks on world tour performing in shows in Las Vegas etc., a Chinese version of KFC at the temple, and Shaolin monks performing in free fight shows for visitors.

I was really surprised that a place with such a long history has become so commercialized; our Chinese colleagues had the same impression. Even the normal staff, like the people selling tickets, etc. were all dressed as monks.

Perfection.2

Nevertheless, the fighting skills of the monks are incredible. Twenty nearby schools are all teaching Shaolin Kung Fu.

Perfection.3

One of these schools was nice enough to open its gates to welcome the iglide car.

Both the Shaolin monks and igus are constantly seeking perfection, so it was a natural fit to meet one another. Take a look at what happened when cars and monks meet.

https://youtu.be/eGIQYZJy2dE

Another tradition that is surely not 1500 years old (though I haven’t done my research) is Chinese square dancing! In the early morning and evening, people gather in squares and practice dancing, either alone or with a Partner.

https://youtu.be/KVy8wdNih0I

While the elderly dance, you can typically find the younger generation of Chinese in KTV shops. KTV is basically the same thing as karaoke. Each group gets their own room with a TV, music system, and two microphones. That way you get to be embarrassed in front of your friends instead of the entire bar.

Ok, that’s all for today, I’ll keep you up to date as we continue our travels!

-Sascha