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Modern plastic energy chains and Chainflex cables from Igus UK can help in the design and operation of machines that are efficient in terms of energy and cost.

Energy consumption can be reduced by using the right materials and the right design, as current tests at the Igus energy chain and cable laboratory have shown.

For example, if a roller energy chain is used in place of a sliding application, friction loss is reduced.

Tests show that with the same basic data (filling, chain length, speed and acceleration) the friction factor can be reduced from 0.3 to less than 0.1.

Using the roller energy chain, drive power was reduced by 37 per cent compared to the equivalent sliding application.

Igus roller energy chains for long distances have been in use for more than 10 years.

An example is the 550m chain used in a taconite mine in Minnesota; another is a 615m plastic energy chain in the Czech lignite-fired power plant Tusimice.

Metal chains are being replaced more and more by lighter and lubricant-free plastic energy chains, even in the toughest of working conditions.

The latest example is in a steelworks in Isfahan, Iran, where dust, lubricants and oils impaired the functional ability of the heavy metal chain that had to be pulled by the machine.

Cables were damaged by sharp chain edges and permanent sun radiation.

Alongside the reduction of the friction coefficient illustrated by roller energy chains, there are further factors that favour efficient energy management, such as size and weight, for example.

Comparative tests in the Igus Technical Centre proved that 17 per cent drive power can be saved with smaller energy chains, which are just as robust as larger chains due to careful design.

A strong energy chain from the E4 range was chosen for testing.

This is a modular system that can be used from ‘side mounted’ and ‘hanging’ applications, through to travel distances of more than 200m.

The E4.1 generation of energy chains combines features from previous energy chains and new design features.

Chainflex cables can also help reduce energy consumption.

According to the latest Igus tests, the use of high-grade sheathing and insulating materials, depending on the combination of cross-sections and cables used, can save between five and 30 per cent.

The result is that the drive power requirements can be reduced by around 17 per cent.

First, optimised sheathing materials, matched to the energy chain application, can achieve low abrasion resistance.

Second, high-quality sheathing materials can be extruded with an extremely thin wall, which saves up to 18 per cent in weight compared with conventional cables.

Insulation materials must also be considered.

With high-quality materials, higher current carrying capacity can be achieved with the same core cross-section, or the cross-sections can often be reduced without the electric performance being diminished.

This again allows weight reductions of up to 30 per cent.

Igus

Igus is the largest producer of reinforced plastic energy chains and injection-moulded polymer bearings. The range of polymer bearings includes Iglidur plain, Igubal spherical and Drylin linear bearings. They offer an excellent price-to-life relationship and are developed under the toughest conditions. They are oil, maintenance and lubrication free, low wear, resistant to dirt and dust, corrosion free and simple to fit. Igus also has the data to precisely predict the lifetime of these bearings within a specific application.

Igus is the largest producer of reinforced plastic energy chains and injection-moulded polymer bearings. The range of polymer bearings includes Iglidur plain, Igubal spherical and Drylin linear bearings. They offer an excellent price-to-life relationship and are developed under the toughest conditions. They are oil, maintenance and lubrication free, low wear, resistant to dirt and dust, corrosion free and simple to fit. Igus also has the data to precisely predict the lifetime of these bearings within a specific application.

Energy chains are the umbilical cord of modern machines. They minimise downtime and protect, support and extend the service life of cables and hoses. The broad range incorporates more than 30,000 innovative, low-cost products. From the smallest ‘micro’ chain to the largest chain in the world, the E4.350, Igus energy chains are capable of long and short travel distances at high speeds in all axes.

Igus also has its own cable series, Chainflex, specially designed with energy chains in mind. They are highly flexible cables, offering a long service life and very small bending radii. A wide range is available, from small signal cables to large power cables, high-speed data cables and glass fibre-optic cables.

The company’s energy chains and Chainlflex cables can be delivered as a fully harnessed and pre-assembled Readychain system, cutting purchasing, warehousing and installation costs.

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