Automation made easy with new modular motion concept from igus

Automation made easy with new modular motion concept from igus

Durable, low-maintenance gearbox solution and energy supply systems in an ice cream vending machine

The pressure of competition on companies is growing locally and globally due to the increasing automation of production processes. In order to make automatic processes possible cost-effectively and individually, igus is developing low-cost solutions with the help of high-performance plastics such as the new modular motion system, drygear Apiro. Design engineers can choose from three lubrication-free worm gears for standard movement, inverted movement, and linear movement. For the user, there are practically no limits anymore, with solutions ranging from the simple linear robot to complex humanoid and animatronic robots.



When summer temperatures prompt cravings for ice cream, vending machines across the country provide us with cooling creations. The sec°mat IC One, made by Bochum-based Seco Manufaktur, turns the sales process into an event. The next-generation ice cream vending machine features our Apiro robot kinematics, not only for durable, low-maintenance operation, but also for user experience.


In the summer, a group of friends stands together at an ice cream machine, looking for the right change; by the time the last ice cream is dispensed, the first one has melted. The sec°mat IC One changes all that: For the first time, the ice cream vending machine with its interactive touch display includes a shopping cart function. The user assembles his ice cream creations, makes a quick contactless payment, and gets the order for the entire group of friends in one go. And he can watch the inner workings of the vending machine through a transparent pane – something for him to do while he is waiting.


Finding cost-effective robot kinematics that are flexible, durable, and maintenance-free and that people enjoy watching at work – that was the problem to be solved. The developers had initially considered a SCARA robot. “But it turned out that the error rate over time is quite high if this set-up is not in a factory where it can be maintained constantly,” says Seco Manufaktur CEO Frank Kuhn. “But longer maintenance intervals and durability were particularly important to us.”


Flexible design due to modular system and multi-functional profile

igus experts were involved in the development process, and together they found the perfect solution in the modular drygear Apiro gearbox system. The focus is on tribologically optimised worm gears. The corrosion-free, chemically resistant high-performance polymers ensure high stability, low weight, a long service life, and no maintenance. The joints are attached by means of a multi-functional profile made of aluminium. This allows drive shafts to be inserted through a hollow space in the middle, facilitating the action of the inverted worm gear, which causes the aluminium profile to rotate. It is thus ideally suited for use in robotics and rotating applications. The linear-movement worm gear allows the aluminium profile to travel linearly, or the worm gear travels on the linear profile. All worm gears have very little clearance. In addition to the three-axis linear robots, the sec°mat’s final complete system has two E2-series energy chains and chainflex cables. “It is not only technically optimal, but also an eye-catcher,” says Kuhn. “The ice cream is retrieved where the customer can see the process, since we weren’t interested in a coldly industrial solution. We wanted the system to be visually attractive and arouse user curiosity.”

The Apiro mission: performance of complicated movements – like those of a spider – with only three new worm gears for standard, linear and inverted motion.
The central element in the interior is the igus® automation solution, consisting of Apiro kinematics, including e-chains and chainflex cables.
The Apiro robot kinematics are not just fun to watch, but durable with a flexible design and require no maintenance.
Emerson to showcase Floor to Cloud factory automation solutions at Hannover Messe 2024 (Hall 11, Booth C20)
Yokogawa Upgrades the CENTUM VP Integrated Production Control System