iglidur bearing tech helps Aachen team finish 6th at World Solar Challenge

Lightweight igus plain bearings helped Team
Sonnenwagen from Aachen race their way to the sixth spot at the World Solar
Challenge held in Australia.

The goal of the World Solar Challenge was to cover
3,022 kilometres of the Australian desert powered only by the sun. One of the
participants was Team Sonnenwagen from Aachen. To develop their solar-powered
car, the students relied on the lightweight, wear-resistant and
lubrication-free iglidur plain bearing technology made of durable
tribo-polymers from igus. This enabled the team to comfortably finish sixth in
the race.

Darwin to Adelaide: 3,022 kilometres across the Australian desert

The participants of the World Solar Challenge had
exactly one week to cover this distance. The cars could only be propelled by
solar power. The student teams from all over the world developed various
vehicle concepts for this purpose, demonstrating the colourful diversity of
sustainable technologies. One of the participants in this year’s challenge came
from Aachen. Team Sonnenwagen participated in the biennial competition for the
second time and finished in sixth place. This was enabled by the plain bearing
technology made of iglidur tribo-polymers from the motion plastics specialist

“The bearings are immensely important because
they hold the car together,” says Kersten Heckmann of Team Sonnenwagen.
“If a bearing fails, the repair is extremely time-consuming.”

In addition, the bearings used had to be
wear-resistant and lightweight – the lighter the solar-powered car, the more
efficient it can drive and cover a longer distance.

relies on the diversity of igus tribo-plastics

The lightweight iglidur plain bearing technology of
igus can be found in countless places in the solar-powered car. Self-adjusting
igubal clevis joints made of iglidur J are used in the telescopic mechanism for
the solar car cover and in the steering wheel. The same material is also found
in the form of plain bearings in the suspension of the rear wheels and in the
steering gear. The wear-resistant and lubrication-free endurance runner has a
very low coefficient of friction on a variety of shaft materials, especially in
dry operation and is vibration-dampening – an advantage especially for the
steering. In the hinges of the cover lock there are also plain bearings made of
the material iglidur G. The tribo-polymer is cost-effective and has high wear

solution printed quickly

The cover of the solar car posed a special challenge
to the team. The driver must be able to open and close the car independently
when entering and exiting, which was one of the rules of the Challenge. A
difficult task, because the cover is 5 metres long, hardly one metre in width
and weighs 25kg with the solar cells. So far, the opening was jerky and needed
a lot of force. The problem lay in the heavy, printed bearings made of standard
polymer. The team gave an urgent order to igus for 3D printed bearings made
from high-performance polymer iglidur I3. The laser sintering material is
characterised by its low coefficient of friction and, like all iglidur
materials, is resistant to dust and dirt and is ideally suited for the desert.
Thanks to the use of the printed bearing, the driver now only needs a few
seconds to get in and out.

Engineers Support’ promotes innovative projects

Projects such as Sonnenwagen from Aachen are supported
by igus as part of the ‘Young Engineers Support’ (YES) programme. With the
university initiative, igus and Treotham want to support pupils, students and
lecturers with free samples, sponsorships and the development of innovative

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

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