Cologne-based igus hasn't plucked the above optimization potential out of thin air, but the air is indeed home to the example it uses to underline the benefits of its solution: "When eagles seize their prey, they instantly adapt their grip to its particular size. The packaging industry can only dream of this flexibility. Its metal grippers - which place the lids on pots of cream, for example - are usually limited to a single format. So for a product changeover, it often takes weeks to make a suitable gripper." However, the robust and lightweight plastic grippers made of igus tribo filaments, which are produced directly by the 3D printer, cut costs by 85 percent and result in time savings of 70 percent.
igus has been offering tribologically optimized 3D print filaments for 3D printing since 2015. To manufacture the product in an additive process, all that's needed is the product's CAD data - "self-lubricating high-performance iglidur plastics that are optimized for friction and wear," as igus stresses. One of the companies that has already had good experiences with tribo filaments from igus is Carecos Kosmetik GmbH. Now, when this company faces a product change, it no longer needs to mill a new gripper from aluminum for the packaging machines in a complex process, which in the past not only cost up to €10,000 a time but also took six weeks. This is much too long to remain competitive in a sector where the focus is also increasingly on producing small series cost-effectively and where the watchword is Industry 4.0. Carecos Kosmetik GmbH is thus now using the tribologically optimized iglidur I150 filament, an extremely stable and impact-resistant material that can be used to print a new gripper within ten to twelve hours.