igus Car’s Encore Performance in North America

Rhode Island and Massachusetts:

September 9th-12th

After roughly 11 months of the igus cars’ departure from the U.S., it is back for an encore performance in North America. Already conquering Mexico this past July and August, our igus car is taking on Canada and the U.S. for the next 8-10 months, driving to visit customers and sites it missed last time.

The first week the car arrived in Rhode Island from Mexico, it made local visits in the Massachusetts area, visiting customers in the medical and storage industry.

igus Car's Encore Performance in North America

One of the medical companies uses our DryLin and iglide products in their analytical instruments, genetic and diagnostic testing.

Our Chainflex cables and energy chains are used in the automated sampling storage management systems. These are ultra low temperature storage systems used for medical storage purposes.

The car received an overwhelming amount of attention at the visits. The car even met an employee who was 6’10. He squeezed himself into the igus car and we even had to open the convertible top for his head to fit in the car “comfortably”.

From Rhode Island, the car left for Quebec, Canada and is spending three weeks covering Quebec and Ontario. Stay tuned for the next post from Canada!

Thanks for reading,

Kayla

Rio de Janeiro

As we crossed from the Norther to the Southern Hemisphere, we also changed from summer to winter. Even so, it certainly doesn’t feel like winter here in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro

It’s close to 90º, and despite my SPF 50, my entire face is sunburned. Good thing the iglide bearings in the car can handle this heat better than I can – they’re still working perfectly, which isn’t surprising as they’re used so often in harsher environments than these. One of our bearings, iglide T500, can even work in long-term temperatures nearing 500º! Despite the heat, Rio de Janeiro is completely beautiful.

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One of our first customer visits in Brazil was outside Rio, at a factory that manufactures equipment for Brazil and Latin-America’s biggest TV network. At their factory, they were creating a custom chairs for a TV singing competition that will sound familiar to some of our readers. The chairs use igus’ PRT slewing ring bearings to rotate around smoothly, used by the TV show’s ‘singing coaches.’ The coaches will hear the contestants sing – without being able to see them. If interested in working with that contestant, the coaches will rotate their chair around to face them (sounding like any show we have here in the US??) The PRT slewing rings from igus are used because they are almost completely silent, so they will not compromise the sound quality of the TV program, and they are also maintenance-free, so the coaches can turn to face as many potential rock-stars as they want without worry.

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We also had some time to explore a bit of the city, much of which is located between mountains, including the Pao de Acucar, or Sugarloaf Mountain, which rises 1,300 feet above the harbor below.

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If you aren’t feeling quite ready to climb the mountain, you can take a cable-car ride to the summit, where there is a breathtaking view of the City.

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From the top of Pao de Acucar, you can also get a glimpse of the ultimate symbol of Rio de Janeiro, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, located on the peak of Corcovado Mountain.  The 130 foot statue was built to celebrate 100 years of Brazil’s independence from Portugal, celebrated in 1922.  We visited the statue around sunset. The giant amazing statue, coupled with the sky’s changing colors was a sight I don’t think I will ever forget.

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As a tourist in Rio, there are 2 very obvious passions of the Brazilians. Obviously, with the World Cup happening, the first one is football. I found an amazing place to join in the football obsession, at the FIFA Fan Fest at the Copacabana!

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The Copacabana is one of the world’s most famous beaches, and when Brazil’s football team is playing, the Fan Fest extends across the entire thing.

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At the Fan Fest, you can also experience Brazil’s second most notable passion – Samba. Before and after the matches, and throughout the night in the city, you can hear Samba music everywhere. They even have Samba schools throughout the city!

We also came across a Brazilian favela. These neighborhoods are notorious for crime and corruption – until recently many were governed by gangs and criminals instead of Brazilian government. Over the past few years, gangs are starting to be expelled from the area, and local police stations are being built.

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Despite its problems, Rio is a city with many facets, and surely one of the most beautiful cities worldwide.

Soon, we will leave Rio and head South until we reach the Argentinian border.

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Until then,

Sascha

¡Viva Brasil!

Samba, Caipirinha, and soccer. Many would associate all these words automatically with Brazil. Since arriving, I can to you that while I haven’t seen everyone dancing the Samba or drinking Caipirinha, it IS the World Cup after all, and Brazil is futbol obsessed! Everyone, young and old, men and women, even those not interested in the game, all are all a sudden obsessed. I was able to get the full Brazillian experience, watching a World Cup match at a public viewing in São Paulo.

¡Viva Brasil!

The lighthearted atmosphere turned tense when, during the game, Chile caught up to Brazil, leading to a penalty shootout.

¡Viva Brasil!.2

In the end, everyone was relieved and the party resumed after Brazil finally came out on top!

¡Viva Brasil!.3

While the World Cup will be an important part of our Brazillian tour, I wanted to share another “Cup” with you – one that has been hidden and pushed into the background with futbol-mania. Taking place from the 19-25th of July, right here in Brazil is the RoboCup 2014! igus will be taking part in the tournament, running in Joâo Pessoa, putting our robots up against their toughest competition in a number of disciplines – one being Robot Soccer!

¡Viva Brasil!.4

Students from the University of Bonn, teamed with igus, created a humanoid robot that uses a number of igus plastic components created using a laser-sintering process. The plastic bearings used in the robot allow for smooth motions of the robots joints, as well as reducing the total weight of the robot without compromising any strength – a big advantage over the competition!

I have to keep referring to our little soccer machine as “the robot,” as he doesn’t have a name; but you can help change that! We’re having a naming contest for our competitor, pick a name and enter the contest here: http://goo.gl/mkYJ54 Whatever name both igus Germany and the University of Bonn agree on wins a prize!

I’ll tell you more about our robot over the next few weeks as he competes in his own version of the World Cup.

¡Viva Brasil!.5

As I mentioned, I am in São Paulo  at the moment. The city is the economic capital of Brazil, and with more than 20 million people, the largest metro area in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, our awesome iglide car is still 400 miles away in Rio de Janeiro! The customs in Rio is more specialized on imported items like cars, and so it should be through much more quickly than if we brought it through the São Paulo airport.

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Over the next week, we’ll be hopping on a plane to Rio, and from there we’ll start the tour – driving South to the Argentinean border.

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I’ll keep you up to date, as always!

-Sascha

 

Down into the Japanese Islands

When traveling for thousands of miles like we are, it’s important to have a comfy seat! Worldwide, many manufacturers use iglide bearings to improve their seats’ performance and durability, including a customer we met with along our tour!

Down into the Japanese Islands

Many seat makers are utilizing iglide bearings for the seat height adjustment, reclining functions, crash-active headrests, and adjustment motors.  The bearings are perfect with their smooth motion. We retrofit our orange car with iglide, too. They help keep the seat adjustable without any added noise or mess.

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Depending on the weight of the passenger, the bearings must endure high static loads. With the ability to support 100N/mm2, iglide bearings could carry even the heaviest sumo wrestler across Japan. While they are very strong, the bearings are also very lightweight, weighing in at 7x less than conventional metal bearings.

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Japan is comprised of four large islands, including the mainland, where Tokyo and Hiroshima are located. From the mainland, we continued our tour onto the island of Kyushu, the third largest of the islands.

Kyushu is famous for its hot springs – everywhere you look you see pillars of steam coming from the ground. The number of springs is due to Japan’s unique geography. Japan is situated at the edge of 3 techtonic plates, the Pacific, Phillippine, and Eurasian plates. This not only makes Japan a great location for hot springs, but for volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.  We took our car to visit Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan.

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The land surrounding the volcano is extremely fertile, so it becomes very green and lush. The volcano had its last eruption in 2011.

From Mt. Aso, we headed back North; driving about 500 miles straight towards the city of Nagoya. This racks in nearly 2000 miles in our Japanese tour alone!

I’ll let you know where we head from here,

Sascha

300 miles through Japan

Immediately after the press conference, we left Tokyo for Isesako, about an hour East of the capital city. There, we started our visits to our Japanese customers. At our first stop, the entire R&D department were there to welcome us as the iglide car entered the grounds. About 20 people gathered to get a closer look at the car, and learn about igus products.

300 miles through Japan

Currently, the customer is testing where our bearings would work best in his exhaust system. Millions of iglide bearings are installed into new cars every year, so I am sure he and igus engineers will work together to find the perfect solution. Even though they are plastic, the iglide bearings are not affected by high temperatures, and are an inexpensive and lightweight alternative to metal. Believe us? We filmed the following clip in Taiwan, proving the resilience of iglide bearings in high temperatures.

https://youtu.be/FsuDpgZZlvc

Though the trip from Tokyo to Isesaki should have taken about an hour, it took us more than double that! First, we had to pass the suburbs of Tokyo, some were as large as major European cities!

As you leave the city behind, everything slowly turns a bright green. Our route brought us right to the center of the island – in the summer, the mountains are transformed into a famous ski area. For now, though, we  are able to see the real Japanese countryside.

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As more and more people move to the metropolitan areas, the rural areas become more and more abandoned. While they are shrinking, the cities are booming. Most Japanese people that grow up in the country leave their villages behind for the city. With their villages, they are leaving behind traditional cultural practices, like food. I had the chance to taste a traditional fish dinner, which was incredibly delicious.

One evening, we visited a restaurant and bar where an old woman both cooked and served traditional “Grandma food.” We all know that grandmothers are the best cooks, and she was no exception!

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After visiting “the grandmother bar,” we continued our journey towards the sea. Along the way, we stopped to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic village of Gokayama. The village is preserved as a traditional village with wooden houses and straw roofs.

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From Gokayama, we continued on to Hakui, which is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Seeing as iglide bearings are water resistant, we took the opportunity to take the car along the shores of the sea.

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iglide bearings are all water resistant and corrosion free. We also offer special bearings that are exclusively manufactured for meeting the demand of under-water applications. iglide H, our underwater specialist, is the perfect choice for water, but also a variety of chemicals and other fluids.

Currently, I’m writing to you from Kyoto, where we are going to visit a very traditional and important Japanese site. I’ll tell you all about it soon.

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Until then,

Sascha

 

Taiwan to Japan!

The Taiwanese leg of our tour has come to an end. For two weeks, we’ve been exploring the entire island, driving more than 1,670 miles. One thing I will surely remember, apart from the beautiful landscape, is the amount of scooters on the road! They are everywhere, ruling the street. igus can help increase the lifetime of the country’s most popular mode of transportation. AEON, a well-know scooter manufacturer, relied on igus bearings in the front and rear suspension, as well as the throttle valve of their scooters.

Taiwan to Japan!

The smooth movement of the throttle valve is ensured by two iglide bearings. They can not only stand the heat of the engine without a problem, but are also light in weight and low in price, making them a perfect alternative to conventional metal bearings. iglide bearings are not new to the automotive industry; they are being installed into new cars all over the world every day! The iglide on tour car is also relying on two iglide bearings in it’s throttle valve, it’s worked perfectly now for nearly 100,000 miles, driving through heavy tropical rains in Taiwan, incredible heat through the deserts, and cold temperatures in mountain regions.

Driving through Taiwan, we saw countless rice fields. Driving along the Southern coast they begin to appear, and become larger and more abundant as you head inland – some of the fields are so huge you can hardly see where they end.

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We drove to Kaohsiung, a major port city in Southern Taiwan. There, we had a booth set up at a famous boat show being held. As the last day of the show coincided with Mother’s Day, we had a special area where you could write a postcard to your mom, which even the city’s mayor took advantage of!

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We also paid a visit to a local kindergarten on our journey. A teacher reach and heard about the orange car traveling the world, got the children excited, and they all asked for a visit! More than 130 children between the ages of 3 and 6 were there to welcome us, and even performed some songs and dancing, and loaded up the iglide car with balloons to take back to the office!

https://youtu.be/H4A6HwHtDks

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After our travels across Taiwan, it was time to head to Tokyo!! I said my goodbyes to the car as it was loaded up, I would see it after arriving in Japan and having the proper modifications done (for example, Japanese regulations require the headlights must be moved, among other small changes.). Eventually, we received the proper permits, and were free to start exploring beautiful Japan!!

For now, we are mainly in the igus Tokyo office, putting the final preparations into effect for the tour.

I will keep you updated on our travels!

-Sascha

A Rainbow Village, a mountain pass, and a customer visit

It only took a half-hour or so of driving away from our office in Taichung before it felt like we were in the middle of the rainforest – even down to the signs warning us of killer bees!!

A Rainbow Village, a mountain pass, and a customer visit

Just past the outskirts of Taichung, close to one of our customers, we came across the “Rainbow Village.”

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Several years ago, and 87 year old veteran, known now as Rainbow Grandpa, began painting his small, abandoned village. Out of bordom, mixed with the hope of saving his village, he began painting the walls, the doors, and even the ground. After years of work, Rainbow Grandpa’s plan worked, and his little abandoned village came back to life. In cooperation with the city of Taichung, the village was named a tourist attraction, quickly becoming famous.

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From the colorful Rainbow Village, we headed into the center of Taiwan, where huge mountains separate East from West. To pass these mountains, you venture across the famous mountain roads that lead you up nearly 10,500 feet! We started up the road, and what started out as a sunny day quickly changed, facing us with high winds, heavy rain, and fog – very dangerous on a mountain pass. Our iglide bearings in the car were reliable as always. We had replaced two metal rolled bearings with our plastic plain bearings in the belt tensioner of the iglide car. The plastic bearings allowed for smooth operation of the alternator, even in environments like this!

Not surprisingly, these and the 54 other plastic bearings fared the storm just fine, and we were able to safely pass through the mountains.

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A trip up a mountain like this puts a high demand on your car. Everything needs to work well, as a small failure could have tremendous consequences in a situation like this! The belt tensioner where we installed our iglide bearings, is one component to help your car meet your demands. The tensioner provides the right amount of stress to the engine belts through a tensioner pulley. Doing this ensures other components, like the alternator or power steering, operate smoothly.

One of our customers from the area is a belt-tensioner specialist, and utilize igus products in them. The belt is located on a self-made ball bearing. The ball bearing is located on top of iglide J, which connects the bearing to the shaft. The iglide J supports the work of  the belt-tensioner, while rotating and dampening the vibration. Before the customer had used a different plastic bearing before disovering iglide, but made the switch when he found it had a better wear performance at the high-frequency motions required, and also has a lower coefficient of friction.

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I’ll update you again about the tour, we’re heading North now!

-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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

-Sascha

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.

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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.

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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.

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