HANNOVER, Germany –– German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven visited the stand of igus, the Germany-based manufacturer of motion plastics, last week at Hannover Messe 2019.
The main focus of Merkel’s visit with igus was to see firsthand the latest German-made robots, including a service robot arm, which could soon be drying dishes and setting the table in many homes worldwide.
“When she returns to private life, we would like the chancellor to have the same service that she had during her time in office. This will give her more time for other things such as writing books on politics or science,’’ said igus CEO Frank Blase. “In one or two years, such a robot will be ready for mass production and will then be affordable.”
Motion plastics move applications all around the world
In order to make robots affordable for every household, igus bases its gearboxes, articulated joints and connecting components on its 50 years of work in the area of motion plastics technologies. These are lubrication-free and maintenance-free, high-performance plastics, that are designed to be cost-effective and, at the same time, extremely durable.
Cologne, Germany-based igus has also recently expanded into other areas of industry. The company’s most recent innovations were 3D printing for wearing parts with a service life that can be calculated online, and lubrication-free ball bearings made of high-performance plastics.
According to a study of RWTH Aachen University, an annual saving of more than 35 million metric tons of lubricating oil can be achieved if lubricants are eliminated. At the same time, around 50 percent less energy is required to manufacture polymers compared to steel and 70 percent less than aluminium.
High-performance plastics become high-tech components
Motion plastics are increasingly becoming high-tech components. “Smart plastics” are products that are able to monitor themselves during use and inform customers how long they will last.
Before a product is used, the customer can carry out a simulation online to find the solution with the best price/service life ratio. Enormous investments in digitization are now being made to help the company to participate in the robot industry.
Along with 16 other industrial partners taking part in Hannover Messe, igus presented RBTX.com, the world’s first robotics platform which brings suppliers and users of low-cost robotics together. Users can put together online an automation solution that matches their requirements and budget. Suppliers of robotics components are given the opportunity to market their products to a larger public in a new marketplace.
igus is betting on the dynamism of the robotic community for the joint development of new low-cost concepts. “In at least two years, the kitchen robot must be able to do Dr. Merkel’s housework,’’ Blasé said.