Manufacturer of plain bearings expands its 3D printing service / Investment in chemical recycling with Mura Technology
To ensure the faster supply of prototypes, small series and special components, German manufacturer of polymer bearings and energy chain systems Igus (Cologne; www.igus.de) is extending its capacities for 3D printing. In total, Igus is to invest in five more machines for selective laser sintering (SLS), of which two will be installed at its main facility in Cologne. Its US subsidiary will have two additional machines, and one SLS machine is to go to China. At the same time, Igus is to invest in chemical recycling at UK company Mura Technology (London; www.muratechnology.com).

For its SLS and FDM/FFF additive processes – as for its injection-moulded components – Igus uses exclusively in-house developed tribological materials such as “Iglidur I3” and “Iglidur I6”, although the company traditionally keeps its cards close to its chest regarding which base polymers it uses. Igus produces wear parts such as cogwheels, gear racks, plain bearings, threaded nuts, slide elements and rollers. In 2019, it manufactured around 120,000 parts. “Tests have shown that the wear resistance of the additively manufactured parts is absolutely comparable with that of injection-moulded parts. Our tribologically optimised filaments have up to 50 times the abrasion resistance of conventional 3D print materials,” says Tom Krause, head of the Additive Manufacturing division.

Additive processes can also be used to process innovative filaments such as “Iglidur RW370”, which was introduced as a normal compound back in 2016. It was specifically developed for components in railway engineering. The flame-retardant high-performance plastic can withstand temperatures of up to 190°C and thus satisfies the European fire standard DIN EN45545 for rail vehicles. This means, for example, that plain bearings for the opening mechanisms of doors could in future be produced by 3D printing.
Sales on the decline, incoming orders almost stable
After Igus managed last year to lift sales by 2% to EUR 764m, turnover in the first four months of 2020 fell by 11% compared with the same period of the previous year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Incoming orders, on the other hand, remained virtually stable and are currently down 2%. On the international market, the company says its local supply is secure due to its 14 production facilities. It intends to stick with its long-term investment plans and will focus increasingly on integration into a circular economy.

In this connection, Igus invested EUR 4.7m at the beginning of the year in Mura Technology, which intends to build the first commercial catalytic hydrothermal reactor (Cat-HTR) facility for chemical recycling at the large petrochemicals site in Wilton / UK. There are, however, no plans to use the recycling oil for Igus polymers. Construction in Wilton is due to begin before the end of 2020. In the first step, four reactors, each with an input capacity of 20,000 t/y of plastics waste, are to be installed. Subsequently, Mura plans to grant licenses worldwide and to build additional plants. The patented technology was developed in 2007 and tested over a period of ten years at a pilot plant in Australia.
20.08.2020 Plasteurope.com [245664-0]
Published on 20.08.2020
Igus: K-Verarbeiter baut bei 3D-Druck und chemisches Recycling ausGerman version of this article...

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