The German energy chain specialist igus has developed a compact chain system that can turn cables and pneumatic supply lines through ±1,500 degrees in a tiny space. The TwisterBand TB30 chain guides energy, data and media with little wear. Even at high rotating speeds, the system, which needs no guide, stays close to the axis.
Usually, when demanding rotary movements are required at high loads, energy chains with reverse bending radii are used. Typically, they allow circular movements of up to 540 degrees but they need deep and wide installation spaces.
The new system (shown above) allows rapid rotating movements of up to 3,000 degrees and depends only on the belt length or the height in the axis of rotation. The small masses involved mean that centrifugal forces are low, and that rotary speeds of up to 720 degrees per second are possible. The lightweight chains can be used horizontally or vertically.
The single-component, injection-moulded belt has chambers attached to it that are filled without needing to open or closed the chain links. Users simply press the lines into the chain from the outside. The chains can be used, for example, to accommodate servomotor, control, bus or fibre optic cables, as well as hoses routing fluids.
Applications are expected to include robotics and machines ranging from assembly equipment to amusement park rides. A further possible area of application is in wind power systems, where the turbine blades need to be controlled through a support which must be free to turn.
The modular Twisterband system does not need to be customised to individual user specifications. One size is already available and larger and smaller versions are planned.