Northern California- Mountains, Forests, Land, and Sea

Arriving in California, the igus® car began it’s three-week-journey with a visit to one of the most iconic parks in the United States—Yosemite National Park! Located in Northern California, in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Yosemite is visited by 3.8 million people annually, covering 747,956 acres.

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View of the valley with Half Dome in the distance Read more…

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

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

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

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.

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

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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

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