Making logistics easier with energy chains that can go around corners

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Applications such as unloading ships, turning pallets, tracking solar panels, moving sensitive electronics components from one workstation to another or aligning radio telescopes, all require rotational movements, presenting design engineers with a major challenge of supplying these rotary movements with a wide range of energy, signals and media at the same time.

Routing many different cables in small spaces

The ‘e-spool’ system links two different energy chains in a unique way. A standard ‘e-chain’ from the E2 or E4 series is routed via a spool, with the integrated return spring always ensuring the exactly correct length and tension of the energy chain. In its initial position, the chain compactly wounds up.

The ‘twisterband’ connects the spool with the shaft bracket, which serves as the interface to the permanently installed cables.

In ‘classic’ cable drums this task is usually taken over by sliding contacts. The ‘e-spool’ concept is far more flexible here, because in contrast to sliding contacts, cables for data, compressed air and fluids can be connected without interruption and be replaced or modified at any time.

The ‘twisterband’ TB 30 provides sufficient space for cable diameters of up to 16mm. If more space is required, the ‘twisterband’ can route cables to both sides of the chain drum.

All these advantages make the ‘e-spool’ a complete modular replacement for classic cable drums. The ‘e-spool’ is also ideal for space-constrained applications as additional space for storing the chain is no longer required.

The ‘e-spool’ becomes a truly multi-dimensional solution when three-dimensional chains such as the igus ‘triflex’ are used since the energy chains can supply in any direction.

The ‘e-spool’ can be used in lifting platforms, sorting lines, mobile cranes, platform applications or assembly or process cranes with grippers.

Rotary movements up to 900 degrees

Thanks to the so-called ‘reverse bending radius’ (RBR), standard energy chains can be used for circular movements. With the chains lying on their side and routed through specially divided channel structures, circular movements of up to 600 degrees are possible.

In order to achieve even larger rotary angles, the igus design engineers have developed the new MRM (Multi-Rotation Module), which makes it possible to implement much larger rotations on the basis of standard energy chains with a rearward bending radius and suitable divided guide channels.

Similar to a stack of coins, several individual systems are placed on top of one another and connected into a complete system. The maximum rotation of the individual levels can simply be added together, making rotary movements of up to 900 degrees or more possible.

The MRM system is suitable for rotary applications where high loads and rough environmental conditions are common, such as stackers, reclaimers, bucket excavators and rotary cranes or in offshore applications. The ‘e-chain’ can also be used to route lines for air, gas or fluids as well as bus cables or fibre optic cables.

Continual and flexible circulation

The ‘c-chain’ from igus supplies grippers, sensors and other units with energy, data and media in a continual loop, without superfluous backward and forward movements.

Based on the c-chain’s application in woodworking, solar panel production or the manufacturing of seats for the automotive industry, igus has developed a new ‘c-chain’ module system, enabling design engineers to build a wide range of different customised solutions with a minimal number of individual components.

The sturdy ‘e-chains’ of the series E 4.1 with an inner height of 21, 28, 32, 42, 56 or 80 mm form the central element of the ‘c-chain’.

A special guide channel system made of one (horizontal version) or two (vertical version) U-profiles is available in lengths of 0.5m, 1m or 2m. Covers matching the size and radius of the system are placed at the ends, and special aluminium profiles make it easier for users to fix the whole unit in place.

The maximum travel of the ‘c-chain’ is currently 50m in horizontal applications and 30m in upright applications at speeds of up to 3 m/s and an acceleration of up to 30 m/s².

The c-chain finds application in handling systems, filling and removal devices, feeders, pick and place through linked systems and portals as well as intelligent conveyor belts and transport systems.

The igus modular system for circular movements is rounded off by the existing ‘twisterband’ series for rotational movements up to 7000 degrees in tight spaces, the large ‘ex stock’ range ‘twisterchain’ (rotary angle of up to 540 degrees) as well as the proven single-layer RBR modules.

Igus energy chains are available in Australia from Treotham.