Prototyping wear resistant gears with igus 3D printing service

Start-ups often find it economically challenging to
deal with the time and costs involved in the production of prototypes. The
high-tech company Easelink from Graz, Austria, therefore, relies on the 3D
printing service from motion plastics specialist igus. Components such as gears
can be configured online, printed cost-effectively and delivered quickly; the
gears are made from wear-resistant and friction-optimised high-performance
plastics, which can be ordered directly from Treotham.

Easelink is an innovative start-up that’s focussed on
improving the existing charging infrastructure available for electric vehicles.
Easelink’s ‘Matrix Charging’ is a vehicle charging system consisting of a
charging pad connected to the mains, which is installed in the car park. A
connector on the bottom of the e-car drops down when parked over the pad and
the charging process starts automatically without the driver having to connect
a cable; this is similar to inductive charging, but with up to ten times the
charging power and with 99 percent efficiency.

During the development process, the designers created
a production-ready component through several prototypes. To ensure cost and
time didn’t get out of control during the prototyping phase, Easelink used the
3D printing service from igus to make the gears for the connector prototype.

The igus 3D printing service includes an online
configurator that enables engineers to design a gear in seconds. The designer
only needs to select the gear module, and set the number of teeth and the torque
transmission, following which the configurator creates a 3D model of the gear.
Hundreds of variants of single and double gears can be created without using CAD
software.

The gears are printed on industrial selective laser
sintering (SLS) machines and are usually ready to ship within just 24 hours.

Observing that high flexibility and fast delivery
times are crucial in prototype construction, Easelink founder Hermann
Stockinger says igus’ online configurator allows them to quickly select and
print gears in many variations.

The components are printed by igus using their iglidur
I6 as the printing material. The high-performance plastic withstands ambient
temperatures of -40 to +80 degrees Celsius, is pressure-resistant up to 44 MPa
and has high wear resistance. igus engineers have proven in laboratory tests
that it is significantly more robust than the classic plastic polyoxymethylene
(POM). Here, gears were operated at 12 revolutions per minute (RPM) and loaded
with 5 Nm torque. The result: The 3D-printed gear made of iglidur I6 was still
fully functional after a million cycles, and the wear hardly measurable unlike
a machined gear made from POM, which wore out after 321,000 cycles and broke
down after 621,000 cycles.

For more information, please visit the Treotham
Automation website www.treotham.com.au or call 1300 65 75 64.

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