The igus® Story Part 2: Expansion, Automation & the 21st Century

1991 - 2009: International Expansion

Eventually, subsidiaries were formed within the U.K. (1991), Italy (1993), China and India, along with many other foreign countries, establishing themselves quickly within competitive markets for new product lines, such as triflex® energy chains for robots and drylin® W linear bearing systems (both in 2003), xiros® ball bearings (in 2008) as well as robolink® low-cost robotics (in 2009).

2014-16: iglide® World Tour
White Sands National Monument, NM

In 2014, igus® decided to demonstrate the reliability and durability of iglide® polymer components by retrofitting one of the smallest cars ever built with almost one hundred of its high-performance tribopolymers. In 56 locations, iglide® parts were installed to replace their metal counterparts, causing a weight reduction of almost 2 pounds. Equipped to go on a 100,000 km (62,137 miles) journey around the world, the lightweight miniature car visited hundreds of customer facilities, international exhibitions and many of its 35 worldwide offices and colleagues during this 24-months real-life test phase. Affectionately named “Clementine” by its drivers and outfitted with plastic automotive components in brake pedals, windshield wipers, door hinges, seat adjustment controls, headlight pivots, throttle valves as well as gear wheels and roof actuators, the little orange vehicle served as a durable, self-lubricating, corrosion-free and cost-effective prototype at the Auto Expo in India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Canada and the U.S., not to mention the majority of European countries. The 2015 Hannover Messe concluded the European adventure of the orange sprinter, sending iglide’s 30th birthday message to everyone who encountered the plastic charmer and its dedicated team. When disassembled for thorough inspection of the retrofitted applications, the numerous iglide® components showed hardly any signs of wear, proving igus®’s concept of plastics for longer (service) life!

2016: Tribo-Printing with Powder SLS Technology

Providing the best possible quality always comes at a price, and over the past few years, injection molding has seen increasing competition. While injection molding requires molds which can cost thousands of dollars and take weeks or even months to produce, it is still the preferred method for high-volume plastic manufacturing (more than 2,000 units) when seeking high-quality parts with tight tolerances. 3-D printing, on the contrary, does not require any tooling or additional setup costs, and, consequently, is substantially faster and less expensive. It is also capable of creating complex geometries, internal features and organic shapes. However, in order to be the more efficient method, quantities should not exceed 1,000 to 2,000 units, considered as small to medium volumes. Since 2016, igus® has developed 3-D printing materials that offer a 50-times greater wear resistance and can cope with as many movements as injection molded parts. 

Fundamental Product Research since 1990 - The Industry’s Largest Test Laboratory

When visiting the 41,000 ft2 (or 3,800 m2) test lab in Cologne, Germany, one quickly becomes aware of the rigorous test procedures that each igus® product undergoes before making it into the product catalog.

igus® polymer plastics can also look back at a remarkable history of test certificates and quality seals, earned as a result of extensive in-house testing:

• 2 billion test cycles annually
• 1 million electrical measurements
recorded annually
• Material testing and design
• Cold chamber testing
• Test robots
• Cable twisters
• Short —long travel test tent
• Tribo-plastics test lab

2018: igus® GmbH Factory Enhancements

10 new low-cost automation delta robots were installed for faster e-chain production. In addition, 4 revolving stock systems, 50 more injection molding machines and a brand-new rod extruder joined the machinery park at igus® Germany.


2019: Low-Cost Automation

Low-cost robotics, an term created by igus® to describe the significant increase in production capacity due to affordable, simple and highly efficient automation technology, has evolved into one of igus®’s major product lines: Whether assembled from a kit system, consisting of a variety of robolink® components to be selected for one’s specific application requirements, or cost-effective and maintenance-free linear movement automation in form of gantry robots. igus® provides readily available automation that can be modified in a quick and easy manner and is low-cost from start to finish. Get to know the various robotic designs, and test your individual solution with the assistance of the robolink® expert.

An Everlasting Commitment to Quality

Considering a 55-year history of product development and a deep commitment to closely working together with staff and customers provide the right solution and deliver as promised, it doesn’t come as a surprise that igus® chooses its slogans wisely: “Cost down, Life up”—a promising future for igus® motion plastics.