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100% recycled material e-chain

31 August 2022

AIMED AT meeting circular economy goals whereby consumables are returned to the biological or technical cycle in order to conserve valuable resources and eliminate waste, igus has developed what is reported to be the world's first energy chain made of recycled material based on its own 'chainge' e-chain recycling program.

“Our customers’ purchasing decisions are increasingly shaped by ecological considerations,” says Justin Leonard, e-chains director at igus UK. "That’s one reason we have put a lot of effort into our product development so as to manufacture even more resource-efficiently – but without sacrificing product quality."

One outcome of this R&D is the cradle-chain E2.1.CG, a complete e-chain program made of the new material igumid CG. Rigorous tests in the world’s largest polymer product test laboratory show that the new e-chain has almost the same technical properties and load limits as the energy chain made of standard material igumid G. The cradle-chain is also available at the same price as e-chains made of the standard material. The new range is available in five series and 28 chain types from stock.

From the discarded e-chain to the recyclate

The cradle-chain uses recycled material reclaimed from igus’s “chainge” recycling program. As part of this program, since 2019 igus has been collecting disused energy and drag chains, of any manufacturer, from customers so that they do not end up as industrial waste. To date, more than 32 tonnes of material from 13 countries has been collected. For 2022, igus has set itself the goal of increasing this sum to 500 tonnes.

The old material is sorted, cleaned, re-granulated and prepared for to make a new product of adequate quality. This is possible with the help of chemical analysis and so-called formulation tuning – a process in which the material is optimized for the desired properties and thus ensures constant product quality. This post-consumer material, called igumid CG, is then used to manufacture the recycled cradle-chain, without sacrificing quality in terms of wear behaviour, stability, or permanent bending changes.

Sustainable raw material cycle – with 28% less CO2  With the new e-chain program made of this recycled material, igus is making a further, substantial contribution to resource conservation while promoting the circular economy. According to the Environmental Product Declaration, an international system for gauging environmental performance data for products and services, this sustainable raw material cycle also saves 28% of CO2 compared with conventional e-chain production.

“Not only the primary function of a product must be the main focus in development, but the ability to reuse raw materials after use must be given far more attention now,” says Leonard. “We see a lot of “Cradle to Cradle” potential and are striving to reprocess as many raw materials and discarded products as possible so that precious resources are not wasted, but instead are used practically for as long as possible.”