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From A Garage To A Global Market Leader: The Couple Who Founded Igus Celebrate Their 90th Birthdays

From A Garage To A Global Market Leader: The Couple Who Founded igus Celebrate Their 90th Birthdays

Together, Günter and Margret Blase laid the foundation for a motion plastics breakthrough in industry in 1964. In 1964, they founded igus in their back yard garage in Cologne-Mülheim. In 2021, the internationally active company supplies customers all over the world with its lubrication-free and maintenance-free motion plastics. On the occasion of the founders’ 90th birthday, igus is bringing that garage back to life.

When Günter Blase drives to igus on his 90th birthday, as he does on many days of the year, the company founder can currently see the construction progress of the new company building on the B8. The new building is being erected next to the headquarters in Cologne Porz-Lind and can be identified from a long ways off by its signature yellow pylons. This is where igus GmbH develops and produces motion plastics – high-performance plastics for moving applications. The tribo-polymers are being used all over the world to make moving parts lubrication-free, quiet and lightweight – on theatre stages and in mountain bikes and office furniture, in offshore drilling rigs, crane systems, ships and space rockets. In 1965, a year after the founding, none of this was imaginable when the first motion plastics were developed in a 55-square-metre garage in Cologne-Mülheim. Blase had recognised the potential of plastic early on and realised that injection moulding could be the key to rationalisation in industry. So, after eight years of a steady job at a company in the plastics industry, he decided to strike out on his own. His wife, Margret, who also celebrated her 90th birthday this April, supported his decision. As an independent tax advisory agent, she also assumed responsibility for the new company’s accounting and finances while her husband focused on production. For six years, igus manufactured motion plastics from the garage as a simple contract manufacturer for a few industrial customers.

“We always have to be ready for 50 per cent less and 50 per cent more”

56 years later, on the occasion of the couple’s 90th birthdays, a replica of this garage stands in front of the 90,000 square metre igus factory campus designed by architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw in 1994. The interior of the replica displays a number of milestones in the company’s history, such as the first injection moulding machine. Much has changed since the garage years: the product range now includes over 200,000 parts that can be delivered from stock and ranges from predictable energy chain systems under guarantee to intelligent 3D printed special parts to robot components for a cost-effective introduction to automation. More than 4,500 people at 35 igus branches all over the world work every day to ensure that customers can improve technology while cutting costs. But igus still holds to a Günter Blase maxim that is truer than ever: “We always have to be ready for 50 per cent less and 50 per cent more.” And the early expansion of machine and raw material warehouse capacities during the pandemic still ensures relatively fast delivery times during this period of rapid economic recovery. Building a new factory will move this development forward into the future. The factory’s construction is a project which Günter Blase, always fascinated with architecture, continues to actively support.


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4K For 3D: Igus Offers Multi-Material Printing For Multifunctional Components

4K For 3D: igus Offers Multi-Material Printing For Multifunctional Components

The motion plastics specialist continues to expand its 3D printing capacities for durable, wear-resistant and complex components

If a component is to have several properties, it usually has to be manufactured in several steps. But such production can quickly become cost-intensive for small quantities. It is precisely for this reason that igus now offers multi-material printing with up to four materials. This allows multifunctional and wear-resistant special parts to be manufactured quickly and cost-effectively in just one step. To this end, igus has further expanded its 3D printing capacities and its range of materials for the FDM process.

3D printing of individual wear-resistant parts with different materials offers the user great design possibilities. At the same time, multifunctional components significantly reduce the manufacturing process. Therefore, igus has been offering the production of durable special parts in multi-material printing with two materials since last year. In this way, wear-resistant but at the same time resilient components, as well as intelligent special parts, can be produced. This service has now been expanded by motion plastics. igus can now use up to four materials in a single process to manufacture multifunctional components. “For this purpose, we have expanded our 3D printing production and now also offer new materials that can be processed specifically in multi-material printing”, explains Tom Krause, Head of Additive Manufacturing at igus GmbH. “For example, we can produce parts for equipment, tool or special machine construction cost-effectively with no minimum order quantity in just a few days.”

Multi-material printing for bearings with the best specifications

The igus materials for multi-material printing have different specifications. The iglidur tribo-filament makes components low-friction, maintenance-free and up to 50 times more abrasion-resistant than regular 3D printing materials. With iglidur I160-EL, igus is now offering a new elastic material that can be printed in the individual bearing, as a seal, for example. igumid P150, on the other hand, is the new 3D printing filament for multi-material printing, which ensures high strength (87 MPa flexural strength) of the component. Especially for the additive manufacturing of intelligent components with integrated sensors, igus offers two further smart materials: sigumid P and sigumid F. The latter is printed onto the bearing and sends a signal via a normally closed contact when the wear limit is reached. By contrast, sigumid P is used to alert of an overload in the bearing. This is because when pressure is applied to the bearing, the shape changes and so does the resistance. “4K printing now makes it possible to combine all the specifications of the different materials – wear-resistant, strong, elastic and intelligent – in one complex component”, Tom Krause sums up.


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Igus 2021 Motion Plastics Show: 168 Tribo Innovations On The Trade Show Stand

igus 2021 Motion Plastics Show: 168 Tribo Innovations On The Trade Show Stand

The real-life/virtual trade show invites visitors to use high-performance polymers to improve their moving applications

More new products, product extensions and digital offerings than ever before: the 2021 “igus Motion Plastics Show” is opening digitally. Visitors can look forward to 168 innovations from all departments – from telescopic robot tube packages to dry-running ball bearings with 21 times the standard service life to large scale 3D printing.

Since the beginning of May 2020, the stand has been located in an exhibition hall in Cologne Porz-Lind, where it was recognised with the iF Design Award. The new igus motion plastics show (imps) for 2021 is now beginning.

“We are in our second year without trade shows”, says igus CEO Frank Blase. “This time we can start the presentation of our new products at full digital speed.”

The new trade show stand has been optimised based on experience gained in virtual customer consultation and tours last year. Solutions for various industries can be seen in a separate area: the space-saving and telescopic triflex TRX system for 3D energy supply on robots as well as the wound high-load bearing iglidur TX2 for construction machinery. The issue of plastics sustainability is now even more visible and is given a central position at the trade show.

Physical/virtual trade show stand with 168 motion plastics innovations

Overall, 168 product innovations from igus departments will be presented at the trade show, which takes up 400 square meters. For instance, the lightweight drygear cobot gear set for cost-effective automation will be exhibited, as will the iglidur I151 tribo-filament for FDA-compliant, detectable wear-resistant parts for food technology. The orange trade show stand has now hosted 55,000 visitors from all over the world, since its virtual twin is freely accessible. Another 16,000 visitors have also taken advantage of the offer of a digital visit with igus specialists.

“We would normally have been represented at 222 trade shows and conventions last year, but we only made a total of 26”, says Blase. “So we are very happy that the imps has become a fixed part of daily communication with customers.”

The real/virtual trade show stand is an important component of a digital igus concept that allows users to find the right lubrication-free, maintenance-free motion plastics for their specific requirements even faster. For instance, machine design and tutorials can be completed virtually with igus consultants, online seminars from the online seminar studio provide additional assistance, and the interactive digital catalogue variant also provides additional information with access to white papers, blog articles and explanatory videos.

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168 Motion Plastics Innovations From The Home Office

168 Motion Plastics Innovations From The Home Office

In a difficult environment, more innovations than last year – from the integrated robot drive up to the ball bearing with 21 times the service life

igus increases the pace of innovation despite the pandemic: high investments in digitalisation, logistics and remote consulting increased online sales by 30 per cent in 2020 and mitigated the decline in sales by 4.8 per cent. The motion plastics specialist is also breaking new ground in terms of sustainability and product innovation, and will be presenting more innovations than ever before with 168 tribo-polymer products in spring 2021.

Last year, the turnover of the motion plastics specialist igus fell by 4.8 per cent to 727 million euros in the wake of the Corona crisis. The company is optimistic for the current year, thanks to a significant increase in incoming orders. In addition, the pandemic period has led to a surge in innovation when working from home. The result is 168 new products, product extensions and digital offers this spring, more than ever before. igus will be giving a first preview at the Hannover Messe Digital Edition. The company will also be presenting all its spring news at its own physical-virtual trade show. It has just been awarded the “iF Design Award” and will be completely renewed for visitors from 5th May.

ReBeL accelerates cost-effective automation

After two years of development, the ReBeL, a new robot drive element, can be seen at the igus exhibition. Customers can construct their own robot arms quickly and cost-effectively from the modular kit. The core of the ReBeL is a greatly improved plastic gearbox. An integrated BLDC electric motor with power electronics can be connected to various controls. In addition, a suitable low-cost control system from igus is available free of charge as a download, so that the automation can be simulated in advance. In the field of “large” industrial robotics, igus is launching the TRX energy supply system, a solution that rethinks the subject of robot hose packs. The energy supply system twists, lengthens and shortens in a spiral, and cables are inserted in the form of a spiral. This enables a weight saving of 83 per cent on the 3rd axis, in less than half the space.

Dry-operating ball bearings with 21 times the service life

igus will also be presenting news in all areas of lubrication-free and maintenance-free bearing technology. In the case of ball bearings, the engineers at igus achieved a breakthrough in service life. In the application cases of low loads and high speeds, this was increased by a factor of 21. “What used to last a month now lasts almost two years”, explains Lena Woelke, the Development Manager for xiros ball bearings. Applications are found especially in fans or centrifuges

Plastic becomes a sustainable resource

How these lubrication-free plastic products not only have less impact on the environment during use, but are also produced in a CO2 neutral manner and recycled afterwards is part of the igus mission. The new factory building currently under construction will be climate neutral from the outset, and this will apply to the entire igus factory by 2025. To further reduce emissions, igus invests in modern technologies, for example, in extraction systems and filters; injection moulding machines that save up to 40 per cent energy and are barely audible have been purchased in large numbers. In addition to mechanical recycling in the chainge product range, igus also relies on new types of chemical recycling. Thus, igus increased its investment in Mura Technology to 5 million euros. Mura’s HydroPRS technology converts plastic waste back into oil. Investments increased by 29 per cent overall in 2020.

Investments in digitalisation and capacities bring customers forward

A significant part of the investments went into online shops and online tools. All webshops were renewed and made more informative for customers. New online tools for the configuration and calculation of gears, rollers, linear modules and stepper motors are accessible on the Internet free of charge and without registration. At the same time, igus expanded its stock at every location in the world. In addition to the USA with 23,000 individual parts and Europe with 88,000, 21,000 parts are now available in China in 24 to 48 hours and are assembled by igus in millions of models. The offer of easy online configuration and ordering together with the short delivery time was welcomed by many customers. Online sales increased by 30 per cent worldwide. The early expansion of machine and raw material warehouse capacities from the 3rd quarter of 2020 still ensures fast delivery times in the phase of a rapid economic recovery now.

Change as a duty and an opportunity

“Politics, technology, mobility, entertainment, climate and health – the world is changing rapidly at the moment”, says igus CEO Frank Blase. “We want to be active shapers. So I am proud of the igus colleagues for how they have applied themselves, changed and improved during these times.” The teams have been working predominantly from home since 13th March 2020. The offer for a self-determined quota of home office days with few rules and precise measurability is provided by igus until the end of 2022. At the same time, the company is experimenting with new work spaces and forms of on-site collaboration. “For our industry, the fact that everything is changing, absolutely everything, means everyone is making new products, and everyone needs new machines. This can trigger an enormous boom for our customers and us in the next few years.”


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