From 6 weeks to 7 days. New igus system makes custom moulded bearings super-fast


FastLine service with online configurator from igus for developers in the any industry

Automotive designers and buyers are accustomed to long lead times. To make an injection moulding tool for a mass-produced, wear-resistant special component, they would typically have to wait up to six weeks. Time that igus can now reduce to just seven days – with a new service called FastLine. In just four steps, the desired part is configured online and ordered from igus.

Many designers and buyers in industrial supply chains need a special component outside the list of standard parts as quickly as possible, for example a plain bearing for height adjustment in a car seat. What’s the solution, use the 3D printer? The bearing would be printed quickly, but deviating tolerances and material properties are unlikely to meet specification for a production part, failing validation beyond the prototype phase. The same issue can apply to production with CNC lathes and milling machines, which produces a different surface finish compared to injection moulding. Can you produce the special bearing by injection moulding? Here it often takes up to six weeks or more to produce the right mould tool. That can be too long for some production schedules.

Configure cylindrical bushings, flange bushes and pulleys online in just seconds

To solve this and enable quick validation of assemblies with near-series first samples, igus has developed a service called FastLine, suited for the automotive industry and other industries. Here, users can simply configure and order tribo-optimised components in four steps using the online tool “iglidur Designer”. First, users select the desired shape, such as a cylindrical plain bearing, then the best material for injection moulding from the iglidur range. Material characteristic, such as maximum ambient temperature and surface pressure, are displayed at the edge of the configurator. After entering the dimensions of the bearing – inner diameter, outer diameter and bearing width – the user can see the total price for the injection moulding production and can order.

For further production planning, STEP files and PDF drawings of the warehouse are also available for free download. The process continues: after ordering, the online tool automatically creates 3D models and other design files. A specialist team from the igus tool manufacturing department called iform uses this data to programme CNC machine tools semi-automatically. From this, machines can start manufacturing the injection mould faster than ever with minimal manual involvement.

This standardised process, with short throughput times, won igus an award in the competition “Excellence in Production”, run by the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering WZL of RWTH Aachen University and the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology in the category “Internal toolmaking, more than 50 employees”.

Production time cut to just seven days

“This interplay of online configuration, machine networking and process automation is a new frontier in toolmaking,” says Rob Dumayne, drytech® director at igus. “With the FastLine service, we can cut the production time of injection moulding tools suitable for series production for plain bearings and thrust washers in special dimensions from six weeks to just seven days.” Customers get their hands on their components faster and can start validating their assemblies. igus has been serving the automotive industry since 1964, and it supplies more than 500 million plain bearings for automotive applications every year. The polymer bearings are used, among other things, in interior systems such as seating, centre consoles or pedals, but also in transmissions and thermal management of the drives. In addition to cost advantages over metallic bearing solutions, design engineers appreciate the low weight, lubrication-free properties, low bearing clearance, and the vibration-damping and thus noise-minimizing properties of plastic bearings.

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