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Two become one: hybrid bus cables tried and tested

Two become one: hybrid bus cables tried and tested

Modern servodrives use a single-cable connection, or hybrid bus cable, for the power and encoder signalling. The lack of a dedicated feedback cable not only reduces the connection costs, but also the cable variance. These hybrid cables were first introduced by Igus for moving applications in 2013; Justin Leonard of Igus reviews their performance four years on.

Igus first added into its development programme a single-cable solution for servo motors four years ago, which integrates a hyperface bus element. With it, the company took up the emerging trend of the single-cable technology for servo motors. The first hybrid servo cable introduced was based on the chainflex cable series CF270.UL.D.

Up until then, the servo motor and converter were generally connected with two cables - one servo cable for the energy supply of the motor and an encoder cable to give data about rotation speed and position of the motor back to the control. The principle on the single-cable solution is simple: to couple the energy supply and data feedback in one cable. In this case complex measuring system cables, which are usually used for the encoder function, are replaced by bus technology.

The main advantage over standard servo cables are their space-saving function, a very important aspect for the use in energy chains. Apart from that, the number of plugs and therefore the costs for additional material and installation is reduced.

A good and durable shield is especially important for servo cables to prevent possible electromagnetic interference from neighbouring cables within the energy chain. This is even more important in the case of hybrid cables, because the sensitive bus signals are directly integrated into the servo cable. For this reason the element shield, as well as the entire shield of the hybrid cable, is made of a particularly bending-resistant shield made of tinned copper wires with an optical covering of 80 percent. The high-quality shields ensure the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of the cable.

Beyond that the hybrid bus cables developed by Igus are designed for use in energy chains and have a minimum bending radius of 10x cable diameter. The basis of the hybrid cables is the technically high-level chainflex family CF270.UL.D that has been tried and tested in the market for many years. Their durability in tough applications and environments is good, this is the result of the specific Igus design.

The core pairs, wound with optimal pitch length, satisfy the high mechanic demands of constantly moving applications. A low-adhesion PUR outer jacked covers the cable. It is customised to the specific demands in energy chains and provides a long lifetime of the cable due to the proven Igus materials.

Moreover these hybrid bus cables meet relevant standards such as UL, CSA and NFPA79.2012 and are oil resistant. Due to their Desina conforming orange outer jacket, which is flame retardant and halogen-free, these cables fulfil the demands of many moving applications, especially for the use in machining centres and machine tools. Such features are also important for conveyor technology as well as in low temperature applications.

For medium duty applications, the chainflex CF220.UL.H hybrid bus cable is suitable for travels up to 10m. It has a PVC outer jacket, which is oil resistant according to DIN EN 50363-4-1 and flame retardant, as well as being silicon free. Typical indoor applications include wood/stone processing, packaging industry, supply systems and handling/adjusting equipment. It is also suitable for use in ISO Class 2 cleanroom applications. Igus also offers its hybrid bus cables fully-assembled according to Beckhoff standard.

All these cables have been rigorously tested at Igus’ Cologne headquarters, home to the world’s largest facility for testing moving cables. As part of its commitment to customer success, igus has operated an extensive test lab for more than 20 years. This state-of-the-art 2750m? facility carries out more than two billion test cycles per year. Conducting more than 700 tests simultaneously, four test robots put chainflex cables through their paces in a series of demanding material tests, including torsion testing and -40íC cold chamber test stations.

More than 5000 measurement locations are monitored continuously, taking 1.4 million electrical measurements per year. As well as rigorous and comprehensive testing to Igus standards, customer-specific application testing is also undertaken. All tests are systematically documented; this exacting process is part of how Igus is able to offer customers a 36-month guarantee on its cables and carriers, giving them the reassurance that their system will deliver a reliable long life.

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