Magnets let this cable carrier float within its track
You may be tempted to lump all cable carriers together because their differences tend to be subtle ones related to the geometry of their links and their use of wear-resistant materials. At the fair, though, Igus GmbH demonstrated a carrier with a high-tech twist that was hard to miss. The company debuted a "magnetic energy chain" that floats within its own track.
To turn an ordinary energy chain into a maglev system, Igus installed magnetic modules on both sides of a fixed track and embedded pieces of iron in the plastic links of the chain itself. The result: a reduced-contact cable carrier that moves quickly with lower forces, less wear and reduced noise. The lower half can optionally be fitted with magnetic modules too, opening up the possibility of a chain with still greater wear resistance and whose top and bottom halves can move independently. According to Frank Blase, the company's chief executive officer, the magnetic system can move at speeds up to 15 m/sec, carrying loads of up to 4 kg/m of chain. A chain with 40m of travel, the maximum for this system, can accelerate as quickly as 90 m/s2, Blase adds. "That's impossible with any other carrier system today."
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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