First Impressions of New Delhi

To be honest, I’m not sure where to start. Even though I’ve only been here four days, I’ve experienced so much! I think the best way to share it all with you is by starting at the beginning.

The flight was boring as usual, until we getting ready to land at Delhi Airport. What I’d initially assumed to be normal clouds was actually a mix of fog and pollution that had drawn a curtain over the city, burying everything beneath it. I’ve read that New Delhi has taken over Beijing’s 1st place title in smog; on certain days pollution is twenty times as higher that what is considered to be hazardous – at least at home in Germany.  While I was slightly annoyed I couldn’t see the new city out the window, the pilot had a much bigger problem – he couldn’t see to land the plane! After circling the airport a few times, challenging the smog, he gave up, and headed us toward Mumbai (formerly Bombay).

Our detour took us an hour-and-a-half to Mumbai to refuel, then an hour-and-a-half back. Finally, about 7 hours later than I had planned, I arrived in New Delhi, a city so foreign to me! My first impression leaving the calmness of the airport was, to best describe it, intense. From all directions, people were shouting asking if you need a taxi; the whole city is loud and bustling and full of life.

I arranged a cab ride, and took a ride that swung between excitement and seeing death in front of me. The drivers operate without any kind of traffic system! Every space between cars or rickshaws is seen as a challenge to move faster. And all the honking! If I remember one thing about New Delhi when my trip is through, it will be the honking of car horns. You hear then every minute of every day, all night included. After a few days in the city, I developed the theory that the honks are the reason I still haven’t seen any traffic accidents. The three lane streets here have 10 cars across, and no one cares where and when to pass, but no accidents. In Germany, this would end in a major pileup disaster, but I think here, there only driving ‘system’ is just a series of honks. One when you pull on the street, one when you pass, and another if someone’s getting too close. Again, just a theory, but how else could this chaos not lead to any accidents?!

I was exhausted, and fell asleep as soon as I got to the hotel, then up early to explore New Delhi! My colleague from igus India, Nitin, picked me up and took me sightseeing; something I couldn’t be more grateful for. The life on the city’s streets, the intermingling between rich and poor, all living so close, really impacted me. Here, the streets are bustling with life at every corner in a unique and colorful way I’ve never experienced before. The mix of high-tech and old world is amazing; I saw modern things like tech shops and skyscrapers, and things like a man traveling by elephant, all in one space.

Though I’d love to tell you more about my adventures and the sights around New Delhi, it will unfortunately have to wait. You see, I spent the entirety of the next few days in the customs office, in the attempt to free my little car from the Indian bureaucracy. I’ve never spent longer waiting around, and only for a few signatures. It seemed there was some sort of “Happy Customs Day” on Monday, and we couldn’t find anyone working, and then it took about seven hours Tuesday to get the papers and passes to the cargo area.

Next time I’ll tell you more about freeing the iglide car, plus, what it has in common with a flock of sheep! Talk to you soon!


Ready for Takeoff!

The car for the iglide world tour is off on its first journey, surprisingly on a passenger plane!

After a successful press conference held at igus headquarters in Cologne, Germany, Sascha took his first trip in the iglide car, all the way to the Frankfurt airport.

Sascha has to say goodbye to the well-maintained German highways and organized driving patterns, by the time he’s reunited with his little car will be in the bustling country of India!

After the “long” journey to the airport, there was a list of things to be checked off to get the car ready for takeoff.

First, the car had to pass through customs. After shuffling the countless documents (each of which had to be signed off by customs agents), Sascha brought the car to the inspection area where the police were waiting for him… though just to ensure the car was clear for international travel! Even though the car seems to be only has heavy as Sascha’s luggage packed for the trip, the car was still too large to pass through the scanner, and police had to check it manually.

After getting everything squared away, Sascha left the car overnight to sleep in the storage area of the airport, and returned the next day for the departure to India.

Now, if you are lucky enough to have ventured through Frankfurt airport, you’ll know how massive the facility is – the third largest in Europe – and all the passenger terminals seem to be as far away from each other as possible.  Why does this matter, you ask? Well, when Sascha’s airline changed his departure from the cargo area to a passenger terminal, he had a race against time! Sascha and the iglide on tour crew accompanying him had to catch a bus, tough in a busy airport, but even more challenging on a day when 90% of busses are pre-booked for a special event! Despite the challenge, the whole team made their flight.  The rush made everyone even more grateful to the Lufthansa Cargo team for giving igus the opportunity to get the car loaded and ready the day before!

Stowed away below the seats of hundreds of passengers, the little iglide car finally made its way to the runway.

Saturday, Sascha will reunite with his orange iglide friend and begin discovering New Delhi, and start the 2,500 journey across all of India! Boy Voyage Sascha, and your little car too!

Reassembled and Ready to Roll!

We’ve made it over the last hurdle!

Getting the car tested and inspected for safety did not go as smoothly as expected; for a little while it looked like we wouldn’t pass!

When the inspector for the German Association for Technical Inspection arrived, everyone was confident, and at first, everything went as expected…

First, the visible bearings were inspected.

Johannes Thome points out the bearing that locks and moves the passenger seat.

For the bearings that were hidden within the car once we reassembled, we had images and graphics to show the inspector. Using photos we took along the way and our design planning worksheets, we were able to show where every bearing the team replaced is located, what forces they’ll face, and most importantly, their ability to endure them!!

Johannes Thome shows details of the bearings used in the window regulator.

On some areas of the car, tests were conducted, like for the windshield wipers. The test showed that the wipers were not locked properly. Luckily, our team was able to fix this in just a few minutes.

Johannes Thome works on the windshield wipers.

The convertible top kept up its reputation of being difficult during the testing. The team replaced the bearings (2 in the locking cylinder, 4 in the deflection of the top, and 6 in the kinematics) and the sliding blocks in the top over the remodeling process. The sliding blocks guide the convertible top while it’s opening and closing. Once the test began, Murphy ’s Law set in and the sliding blocks got stuck, not allowing the roof to fully close.  Shockingly enough, the safety inspection required the car’s roof to function, so the Johannes and the team had to quickly fix the problem.

The problematic sliding blocks (pointed out with orange arrow) got stuck during the inspection.

Fortunately, the car’s original sliding blocks were still in the shop and could be re-installed in just a few hours.

The last test the little car faced before hitting the road was to measure the clamping force of the window regulator, where a guide pulleys use an iglide bearing. The window regulator of our car doesn’t have a reversing safety function that stops the window from closing if there is an object between the window and the doorframe. Without this feature, the rising window must not exceed forces of 22.5 lbs. When our car was tested, its super strength was lifting the window with 34-45 lbs of force, keeping us from passing inspection!

To get around this last loop, we had to check the books. We learned the only way in which the 22.5 pounds of force maximum can be exceeded is to live up to 2 specific criteria.  First, the only automatic window may be the driver’s front window (check!).  Second, this automatic window may only be functional with the engine running (double check!). It was a close call, but in the end, the car passed and earned its safety certification.

Next stop, New Delhi!!!

Fourth week of retrofitting!

The deadline is drawing near…

…and our car for “iglide on tour” is just entering the last phase of the retrofitting! The windshield wiper mechanism bearings still need replacing, sliding blocks for the convertible top still need to be manufactured, and… the car still needs to be reassembled! We’re getting short on time, but the flight to India is booked for January 20th; there’s no turning back now!

Here are some details of what’s still ahead for our little car:

1.)   The sliding blocks that guide the convertible top have been redesigned with CAD, and 3D drafts have been printed; now comes the time to investigate whether the 3D printed draft bearings the team redesigned will fit properly, or if it’s back to the drawing board. If the new iglide parts don’t fit well, the convertible top will not be functional, and it would be nice to have a breeze on the roads of Brazil, and through the desert in the western US!  The part of the sliding blocks that give clearance to the top was a real challenge for the team, as the piece the team redesigned and remanufactured was not quite flexible enough. Through a stroke of genius, however, they came up with the idea to use a steel spring with a sliding layer.

First picture: the trouble replacement in the convertible top is marked with an orange arrow.

Second picture: The piece enabling clearance to the top is marked with an orange line

2). The windshield wiper mechanism bearings that are to be replaced allow the wipers to move. Our team will replace to original bearings with iglide here.

3.) The car is still naked!!! It needs its shiny orange exterior replaced before it can go anywhere!

Four bearings to be replaced are circled above in orange.

Though there’s still a lot to do and time is not on our side, it should be mentioned how much has been accomplished since our last post!  Here’s what the team has gotten done in the last week:

Gear module: In the gear module, 4 bearings have been replaced. Two thick-walled metal bearings that lock the gears in place have been substituted with iglide bearings. These bearings will not only move around the standing shaft, but also endure changing radial forces. For the shaft, the team had to take low mechanical properties into account, as the new bearings are made from plastic. Usually, this plastic-on-plastic combination leads to a high rate of attrition, and a great deal of heat is created with no way to dissipate it. The team chose iglide P210 material bearing as a replacement, which can handle this hostile environment.

Two bearings at the upper part of the gear shift have also been replaced. The original lubricated clip bearings have been swapped out for iglide dry-running replacements. These bearings balance the forces that emerge at a swivel angle when shifting between reverse and the forward gears.

The brake pedal: Here, the team changed 2 bearings. When the driver brakes, the pedal slides along 2 iglide plastic bearings on a bolt that connects the pedal to the rest of the car’s body.

The seat: Because we couldn’t change things in the car that might affect the driver’s safety, the team only changed bearings in the unlocking mechanism that serves to adjust the seat. iglide bearings are guiding the bar that unlocks the seat in order to move it forward or backward.  From the size of the car I don’t think we’ll move it forward much!!

The window regulator: Before the remodeling, the pulley that guides the regulator cable was directly located on a bolt. Now, an iglide bearing is connecting the pulley to the bolt, allowing frictionless movement.

Handbrake: The team went through the same process as with the window regulators. The hand lever was originally attached directly to the bolt connecting the lever to the car’s body. Now, the lever is gliding over an igus bearing that was placed between the two.

Throttle valve: Last but not least, the throttle valve has been placed on a moveable bolt embedded in 2 iglide bearings.

Will the car be finished on time? We’ll let you know at the press conference January 20th from our Cologne office.  Until then, keep your fingers crossed for the team!!

Third week of retrofitting

Now we get to the good stuff!!

Our smart car for “iglide on tour” shows us what´s inside

The retrofitting now goes one step further!

Now it is time to start dealing with the starter. One one hand, it is used to crank the engine to get it started, and on the other hand, is used to produce electricity. In this car, the starter is fixed to a movable bolt. Allowing the bolt to move enables radial and axial movements to balance out vibrations. This ensures that the strap, which connects starter and crank shaft, is under tension at all times. The bolt, holding the starter, is fixed by two bearings. They enable the movements and are going to be replaced by iglide plastic bearings.

The metal bearings that will be substituted by iglide

The bolt that carries the starter

Also, the suspension strut, which so kindly prevents the driver from smashing their head on the ceiling after hitting a bump, is brought to focus. More precisely, we are going to examine the rolling bearing, which is located above the suspension to ensure its axial alignment. As it is frequently in use, it has to be able to endure pressure and friction over a long period of time.

This bearing is planned to be replaced with an igus bearing specifically manufactured to endure pressures up to about 2,420 pounds.  Nevertheless, there are two challenges with this bearing: The original bearing was not the same size, which leads to the question: can this iglide bearing be used, or does a new one have to be specially manufactured? Furthermore, the suspension is bolted the rolling bearing. Thus the iglide bearing has to be adapted. Will the suspension works afterwards or shall we pick out a helmet to wear in the car? And will we still be able to steer the car after the bearing has been replaced?

The original bearing (right) and the possible igus bearing (left).

Johannes Thomé is showing where the bearing is located

The throttle valve got examined too! Throttle valves are located in the air-intake manifold of a car. Modern engines not only need fuel, but the right ratio of fuel to air. How much air is being sucked in is determined by how fast we accelerate and drive. It is placed on a shaft, which is moved by a small electro engine, and embedded in two bearings. These will be replaced by iglide plastic bearings.

The throttle valve

Last but not least, this week we looked at the handbrake (also called an emergency or parking brake by our international friends). The brake lever is connected to a module located on the car body. It is going to be investigated if the lever is connected through a replaceable bearing or just a metal bolt. The results from our investigation will decide whether or not we replace it with an iglide bearing.

The handbrake (emergency/parking brake)

Interview with Johannes Thomé

Johannes Thomé is in charge of the retrofitting and preparation of the iglide car for its round the world trip.

Johannes Thomé began his career with an apprenticeship as an automotive mechatronics engineer before attending college. After acquiring his Bachelor’s degree at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in Automotive Engineering, he decided to deepen his knowledge with a Master’s study. Simultaneously, he works as a research assistant at the Institute of Vehicle Safety, Technology and Design.

Hi Johannes, thanks for giving this interview. You have been working on the car for weeks now. What parts have you replaced so far?

So far bearings at the brake pedal, control gear, seat bracket, handbrake lever, starter, throttle valve and all bearings of the convertible top.

You guys have already done a lot. I guess there are also challenges and problems occurring when remodeling a car in a way like this. What has been the biggest challenge so far? 

It’s hard to say what has challenged me most. I kind of like challenges, and I´m thinking positively, always following the phrase: “The impossible gets done at once, but miracles take a bit longer.” Seriously I think that the main challenge has been the convertible top. It’s been very difficult and a lot of work to assemble it so that it works properly again. The kinematics has to be very precise so that the convertible top doesn´t jam while moving. To disassemble the top to its smallest fractions was risky, as we later have to put it perfectly together again. Nevertheless, the lifting mechanism is already incorporated and working well. In this context I would like to mention Mr. Michael Krug of igus, who is doing a great job in the framework of this project by adjusting bearings and helping us to always choose the perfect product. The cooperation is really great!

Above, Thomé replaces an original bearing with an iglide plastic bearing in the convertible top.

Which parts make you skeptical and question their durability?

To be honest, the strut bearing gave me headaches. We thought about replacing it with an igus standard bearing, but due to the high dynamic forces it would have to endure, we decided against it. It is not that I don´t have confidence in igus plastic, but I think that an around-the-world tour is not the best scenario for a first test. That this bearing works is crucial for the safety of the driver, and safety is always the main priority. We don´t want to risk it without testing it before. After the world tour we will come back and do some testing on this.

The bearing at the suspension strut, which was eventually left with the original bearing.

What areas do you still have to replace parts?

In the upper part of the convertible top are two bearings on each side that we will replace.

Furthermore, the convertible top is guided by sliding blocks. Currently I’m working out by hand with CAD a new, adjustable version of these parts. The initially planned 3D scan is, due to the complexity, not feasible. With the help of the CAD-models, the parts are then going to be printed with a 3D printer in conventional ABS plastic. Afterwards we will test their accuracy of the fit. Last but not least, we have the window mechanisms, where we will change the guide pulleys that guide the cable.

Second week of retrofitting!

What’s going on here??

Our car for “iglide on tour” has been stripped down!

Over the course of the next few weeks, the car will be completely dismantled. For the initial step, the car will put on a lift, so the engine may be lowered and the team can examined to determine if we can replace any bearings in the starter.

Simultaneously, the areas that have been already dismantled are going to be examined closely as well. In cooperation with the German Technical Control Board (TÜV), igus employees investigated which original smart car parts are replaceable with iglide bearings, and which bearings would be the most suitable.

Some of these changes are no challenge at all for the specialists at work from the University of Applied Sciences; for instance the bearings in the brake pedal. These were easily switched out for iglide standard bearings.

The brake pedal, where two bearings will be replaced

On the contrary, other parts offer surprises and challenges,  for instance with the convertible top:

A surprise: The convertible top contains steel bearings! They will be substituted by iglide plastic bearings, joining the other iglide bearings chosen to travel on a 60,000 mile journey. By doing this, we are proving that we have confidence in our products, and that our plastic bearings are on a par with their steel counterparts.

Some of these changes are no challenge at all for the specialists at work from the University of Applied Sciences; for instance the bearings in the brake pedal. These were easily switched out for iglide standard bearings.

The convertible top, and a set of iglide bearings

A challenge: Bearings in the convertible top are riveted into place, and therefore can only be replaced forcefully. Furthermore, those bearings, which are guiding the convertible top, aren’t standard catalog parts; meaning that igus substitutes need to be manufactured! Will the convertible top still work? Will it still protect us from rain, mud and extraordinary weather conditions on this incredible trip? Only time will tell!

First image: The area of the convertible top containing riveted bearings
Second image: Students examine the bearings that guide the convertible top

The driver and passenger side door window regulators used rivited bearings. Will the doors and windows work after replacing the original bearings with iglide? Is it also possible to recreate the sliding carriages and to adapt them to the system?

The window regulator with riveted bearings

First week of retrofitting!

Around the world in 9 months!

Our car for “iglide on tour” is going to drive not only on conventional roads, but also on rougher terrain along fields, mountains, forests to visit customers, branches and applications of iglide bearings. India, China, South Korea, Japan, the United States, Canada, Brazil and almost all of Europe are destinations on this extraordinary tour.

At the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in Germany, students are working under the instruction of Johannes Thome to prepare the car for its trip. Over the course of the next four weeks, various bearings will be replaced by igus parts, which will be put on the ultimate test when travelling more than 60,000 miles around the globe. At the 2015 K fair, the car will be disassembled on-site at the show to truly see how these bearings stood up to the round-the-world challenge.

Currently, students have already removed the car’s body panels to access areas to be worked on. Next, they will analyze how certain bearings in the car could be replaced. The back of the car’s body, as well as the doors had been removed too. There, iglide bearings will replace the standard parts in the window regulator and door.

The body panels of the car (left) and the front of the car where will work on the linkage of the windshield wipers and the gear shift

The doors had been removed to access the window regulator

Around the world with plastic bearings

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of iglide, plastics specialist igus is going around the world.

30 years ago, the first plastic plain bearing under the name “iglide” was presented to the public for the first time at the K Plastics Fair in Germany. Today, dry-running iglide bearings are moving millions of applications worldwide. With “iglide on tour,” igus is celebrating this anniversary by returning to the K fair with a smart car, stripped and re-equipped with iglide components and sent on a round the world journey.

iglide: a material that moves

The history of iglide plain bearings describes 30 years of research and development to advance plastic technology from simple plastic bearings to high-tech machine element.

For the 30th anniversary of iglide, igus has retrofitted a small car with igus components, and sent it around the world.  The car will be flown across ocean, and travel country to country visiting customers, and proving the reliability of plastic bearings.

High performance polymers for automotive applications

With a wide variety of bearings possessing a range of specific features, the use of lubrication-free iglide plain bearings is optimal for automotive applications. iglide bearings are particularly wear-resistant due to their tribologically optimized plastic compound, and withstand high stresses. Such features support longer service life of the vehicle components. The automotive industry recognized and responded to the igus motto “plastics for longer life” at an early stage. Last year alone, 200 million plain bearings from igus were installed in cars.

Specific features such as media resistance, pressure resistance and attenuation make iglide plain bearings especially suitable for use in the chassis, engine compartment, and gearbox. For door hinges and in kinematics, iglide is suitable because of its corrosion-free, self-lubrication and low noise properties. Due to their low weight, plastic bearings contribute to lightweight construction of fuel-efficient vehicles, protecting the environment. Apart from that, iglide plastic bearings are cost-effective and offer other economic solutions for mass production.

Say Goodbye to Seizing

Plastic bearings tested and proven on Cromax shafting

Bearings must be able to withstand a high amount of wear, particularly in heavy-duty, industrial applications in the construction or agricultural industries. For these types of applications, many designers are surprised to learn that plastic bearings can be an ideal alternative for metal bearings for a number of reasons.

Plastic bearings made of special, self-lubricating plastics have many advantages, including:

  • No maintenance
  • No external lubrication
  • Corrosion-resistance
  • High mechanical strength
  • Vibration dampening
  • Insensitivity to dust and dirt
  • Compensation for misalignment

Plastic bearings are also self-lubricating. This eliminates dirt and dust buildup, which can cause metal bearings to seize, leading to unforeseen downtime and extra expenses. In addition, when compared to bearings made of conventional materials, plastic bearings are often less expensive. For example, igus®’ iglide® Q2 bearings made of high-performance, self-lubricating plastic, can withstand a static load of up to 17,400 psi (120 MPa), and are especially suitable for heavy-duty slewing applications such as those found in hydraulic connections.

Shaft material put to the test

Different shafting materials are recommended for different types of plain bearings and each shaft/bearing combination will have different wear results. In some cases, wear on the shaft is more common than on the bearing itself.

The best combinations for iglide plastic bearings depend heavily on the bearing’s polymer material blend. For this reason, igus continually performs wear tests on its plastic bearings using a wide range of different shafting materials. Recently, a series of tests confirmed iglide Q2 plastic bearings have an extremely low wear rate when used in combination with hard chrome-plated shafts.

Especially good results were achieved when iglide Q2 was used in combination with hard chrome-plated Cromax shafts from steel manufacturer, Ovako. The tests were carried out with 4,350 psi (30 MPa). The bearings tested had a diameter of 20 mm and a length of 20 mm. This resulted in a force of 2,700 lbs. (12,000 N), which corresponds to 1.2 tons or the weight of a small car. The slewing angle was 60 degrees and 30 movements per minute were achieved in the test.

Lubricated brass bearings were also tested, to serve as a reference. During the testing, the metallic bearing “flowed,” i.e. became wider at the contact area to the shaft. However, this reaction did not take place in the test using iglide Q2 bearings. In fact, there was no measurable wear at all on the shafts paired with iglide Q2. Also, there was no significant difference in wear whether a hardened chrome-plated base material (Cromax 482IH) or a non-hardened chrome-plated base material (Cromax 280X) was used. This flexibility enables more efficient and low-cost bearing/bolt connections.

Dry-running, not lubricated

Another costly necessity in heavy-duty applications is lubrication. Metal bearings require regular greasing and maintenance, which results in increased costs and the need to for extra manpower. However, using self-lubricating plastic bearings eliminates the need for external lubrication. Since they are inherently lubricated, plastic bearings run completely dry, which greatly reduces costs. Plus, Cromax is corrosion-resistant thanks its hard-chrome outer layer.

Technology close-up: iglide Q2

Due to the demand, igus’ standard range of the iglide Q2 plastic bearings, which was introduced in 2011, has expanded. iglide Q2 plain and flange bearings are now available for all standard shaft diameters up to 75 mm. igus also offers inch sizes up to 2 inches. iglide Q2 is ideal for industrial applications thanks to its high mechanical strength – the bearing can withstand static loads up to 17,400 psi (120 MPa) – and is particularly suitable for heavy-duty slewing applications such as those which can be found in all hydraulic connections.

iglide Q2 is:

  • Lubrication- and maintenance-free
  • Wear-resistant and sturdy under high loads
  • Resistant to dirt and dust
  • Has an extremely reasonable price-to-performance ratio

iglide Q2 can be used in a variety of applications such as agricultural engineering, commercial vehicles, construction machinery, jig construction or in the general mechanical engineering arena.

Fig. 1
During the test using a lubricated brass bushing, the shafts show heavy signs of wear. The test had to be abandoned when the brass bearing seized at 150,000 cycles. (Source: igus Inc.)


Fig. 2
There was little to no wear during the test with iglide Q2 plastic plain bearings when used in partnership with the Cromax shafts from Ovalo. The shafts still revealed little to no wear even after 200,000 cycles. (Source: igus Inc.)

Fig. 3
The graph compares the wear from iglide Q2 plastic plain bearings and brass bushings. There was little to no wear with the plastic busing in comparison with the brass bushing.

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