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Motion plastics to help fast track automation

Motion plastics to help fast track automation

In an interview with Manish Pant, Sebastian Bloechl, Sales Manager Automotive Bearings and Santosh K Jacob, Director Dry-Tech Bearings, igus inform that as one of the leading suppliers of technical polymer components the company is committed to providing cost-effective as well as sustainable solutions to customers in India.

What are some of your new offerings for this year?

Jacob: We have been continuously improving our bearings for the past several years. igus brings anywhere between 150-160 new products to the market, with some of them made with completely new materials. We also regularly introduce extensions, which are mostly new sizes of a product. In the past year, we started our 3D printing site in India. So, we now have a huge variety of laser-sintered bearings that have a service life equivalent to an injection moulded bushing. We have also started with 3D printed plastic moulds to provide our customers with the flexibility to manufacture injection moulded parts out of our trademark Iglidur materials. With our flexible manufacturing processes, we can also cater to new development with smaller quantities.

With several changes taking place in the automobile space globally, how are you readying your customers for the emerging landscape?

Bloechl: The past couple of years were quite exciting. A lot has changed especially on the back of new concepts in driving and in the approach to weight reduction. Automobile engineers have become more open to changes. Our founder, Günter Blase said, “Give me your most difficult part and I will find a solution.” This sentence continues to guide us and our target is to improve and enlarge the lifetime of the ‘moving’ products with our tribology optimised polymers. We call them ‘motion plastics’. Furthermore, with no transmission sounds in the electric and hybrid platforms, the interiors of those cars are more noise sensitive than before. With our improved sliding bearings, we can offer a low noise solution. Compared to the old metal bushes, we have reduced the weight of bearings in the vehicle by up to 80 per cent.

What are some of the key trends that are driving the market?

Bloechl: Everything will become more automated. Our motion plastics provide polymer solutions for this automation. In the future, we would witness even more motion inside the car. And you need actuators for driving this motion. For instance, the new cars have self-driving mirrors and you need a bearing there. Such cars will also have linear movement in seats that will enable you to speak to each other.

What is igus’ strategy to remain relevant and competitive in such a rapidly evolving market?

Bloechl: Firstly, we are focused on improving our technologies and expand our product range. We also want to increase the lifecycle of our parts so that they last even longer. Secondly, we are concentrated
on the cost perspective and want to reduce the costs of our customers’ products by up to 40 per cent in comparison to metal bearings. Besides the material price, our parts don’t require any lubrication. Furthermore, you can use other kinds of shafts and pins in an application, which again helps to reduce costs.

Jacob: The other aspect is that with the lowering of the vehicle’s weight that also helps reduce CO2 emissions and in electric you increase range. We are ahead of most players in this aspect of reduced weight, with improved performance.

You have also been focusing a lot on sustainability…

Bloechl: That is why we have placed a big investment in Mura Technology Ltd, which is developing a solution to chemically recycle even mixed plastics. We want to accelerate this process with our investment. We have also introduced a campaign for energy chain systems, called ‘chainge’, which happens to be one of our biggest products. Here, a customer can return a worn-out plastic energy chain, no matter from which manufacturer they came from. Afterward, igus takes over the responsibility of the recycling and additionally offers a voucher for the
igus shop.

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