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WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 4/2019

WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 4/2019

Challenges for cable

Challenges for cable manufacturers in the factory of the future AUTOMATION Today, manufacturing is hardly conceivable without industrial robots and their areas of use are increasing continuously. But due to the permanent three-dimensional movements in the automated factory, the cables that supply the robot are subjected to extreme levels of stress. A special challenge for manufacturers of cables and connecting components. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) predicts that by 2020 more than 1.7 million industrial robots will be working in factories worldwide. A huge worldwide market for robot manufacturers. To ensure that robots are supplied with data and energy without any interruption, it is worth taking a look at the cables that have to “go along with” the 3D movement of robots, which are on the move continuously. Robot cables for applications where the cables are subjected to torsional stress have to be constructed and manufactured in a completely different way to cables for linear motion. They must be as compact and as closely braided as possible and have an outer jacket extruded at high pressure. The reason that this is important is because this special “hardness” enables the cable to follow the motion pattern of the energy chain. 24 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 4/2019

Robot cables have to withstand several million movements Robot cables, in contrast, need force-compensating elements, loose braiding elements, different slip planes and completely different shield concepts in order to ensure they continue to function correctly even after several million movements involving torsional stress. This is because the cables used in robot technology have to repeatedly change the directions in which they move. For example, the diameter of the braid structure can actually change with torsion angle. Cable specialist igus incorporates damping elements and torsional-force absorbing felt into the core groups, which are specially designed for use in applications involving continuous changes in torsional stress, in order to offset the forces acting on the cores. The requirements for the shielded cable types are especially high. In order to ensure that the forces acting on the shield wires are not too large, the motion plastics specialist places gliding elements above and below the shields. These elements ensure that the shield can move freely in relation to the overall braiding as well as the outer jacket. The shield structure is designed for force redistribution and has damping elements in the direction of that force redistribution. This “soft” mode of construction gives the entire cable the necessary freedom of movement, reduces tensile and compressive forces, and preventing shutdown of a machine due to a premature conductor breakage. Optimum protection with the energy chain On the basis of know-how gained over more than 50-years of experience in this area, the jacket materials have been optimally matched to the plastic of the triflex R robot energy chain, reducing abrasion and wear to a minimum. The triflex R TRCF is a closed energy tube based on the three-chamber principle: all three chambers of the TRCF can be opened and closed independently of each other. The supply hose is placed in one of the three chambers of the energy tube and is therefore protected against deformation. This makes the energy supply process reliable whatever the axial position of the robot is. The main feature that ensures reliable and operationally safe guidance of robot cables and hoses is compliance with the minimum bending radii. If the latter are not adhered to, there is a risk of cost-intensive plant failures. The technical design of the igus triflex R ensures that the prescribed minimum bending radius is adhered to whatever may be the working position of the robot - a circumfer- 02 01 The technical design of the igus triflex R ensures that the prescribed minimum bending radius is adhered to whatever may be the working position of the robot 02 In the 3,800 square metre test laboratory, cables are tested extensively with 2 billion test cycles per year 03 The jacket materials have been optimally matched to the plastic of the triflex R robot energy chain, reducing abrasion and wear to a minimum 01 03 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 4/2019 25

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