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Electronics is adding intelligence to plastics for longer life

15 April 2019

During the last three years, igus has added electronic intelligence to its portfolio, providing customers with the optimum technical benefits when using plastic parts. This has resulted in at least two new product lines recently, the range of smart plastics for Industry 4.0, and drylin dryve controllers for full scale automation.

Now, igus has enhanced its smart plastics range by adding more intelligence for longer service life and low-cost automation. By monitoring the health of linear guide systems, cables and energy chains continuously, timely warnings for maintenance or repair ensure unscheduled and costly shutdowns are eliminated. This added intelligence also brings new possibilities for machine builders and system integrators to extend product service life beyond the warranty period thereby avoiding early replacement.

The paths to low-cost automation are as varied as the applications. Machine builders and robot manufacturers want to build their own machines with just a few low-cost parts; production companies with their own automation systems rely on semi-finished robots and adapt controllers and components to their standards. Smaller companies, on the other hand, tend to look for ready-made systems that are easy to operate and, above all, very cost-effective. Taking all these different requirements onboard, igus has developed new hardware components as well as a digital marketplace model for easy entry into low-cost automation.

The drylin dryve D1 provides simple control and operation of drylin linear axes for complex tasks. Operated via a web browser on a PC, smartphone or tablet, its intuitive interface eases parameterisation. Compact in design, the controller can be easily DIN rail mounted in switch cabinets. One of the key benefits of the drylin dryve D1 is that it does not need to be connected to a router – it is built in, with its own IP address. The integrated web server does not require any additional software on the operating devices, nor does it need additional storage. 

Mechanical loads in energy chains sooner or later change the transmission properties of bus cables. The CF.D system detects any impairment of the chainflex bus cable in good time and alerts the operator in advance of failure. In addition to linear traverse paths, this also applies to three-dimensional movements, for example on robotic arms where transmission faults or failures are hidden from view as the cables are in dresspacks. This advanced and easy to integrate cable monitoring technology does not require additional measuring wires or sacrificial lines as it did in the past. CF.D integrates into the isense environment for predictive maintenance. 

When do I have to change my bearing? This is the question operators of robotic linear systems ask themselves around the clock. Whether the application is in packaging, glass processing or warehousing, linear systems must operate reliably. Developed for its drylin linear systems, the new smart bearing integrates a sensor in the liner, which measures the pre-defined wear limit and sounds the alarm when this is reached. 

Networking all these smart plastics into the OT infrastructure is easy via the igus Communication Module (icom); this enables online status display with alarm options, for example via PC, tablet or smartphone. Maintenance can thus be planned and unexpected system failures avoided.

igus smart plastics are predicting the service life in numerous applications, such as in the automotive industry. The next development step is the increasing integration of electronic components for adding intelligence, such as the integration of the receiver into a connector housing. 


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