Electrostatically dissipative: igus polymer ball transfer units ensure safe conveyance of products

Convincing display by new xirodur material for ball transfer units in static conductivity test

March 18, 2020 – igus has developed a new material for its ball transfer units to protect conveyed goods and people from uncontrolled static electricity discharge.

The new material, tribo-polymer xiros F182 ball, has proved its electrostatic conductivity in tests. Users rely on ball tables for transducers in roller conveyors and the transport of sensitive goods. Ball transfer units from igus can move loads up to 500N smoothly and in all directions without a lubricant. Now, products can be conveyed safely without the worry of static electricity discharge.

igus, based in Germany, runs its North American operations out of Providence, R.I.

Stopping electric shock discharge

In some situations, people notice a slight electric shock discharge passing through the body when touching an object or even shaking a person’s hand. Protection from electric shock can only be provided by textiles that do not become charged. The situation is similar in the industry. If a person works in production, they wouldn’t want to get a shock whenever touching a box or a product.

Electrostatically conductive materials are required to stop discharge. So, igus has now developed the xirodur F182 material for its xiros polymer ball transfer units. The ball transfer units are chiefly used in ball tables to move sensitive or heavy loads – up to 50kg per unit, depending on size – in all directions.

A smooth and self-lubricating transport is possible by the use of abrasion-resistant and durable tribo-polymers. Thanks to the special composition of the new xirodur F182 material, static charge can now be dissipated by the ball transfer unit. It is a significant advantage over metallic ball transfer units, which have an insulating effect from the use of lubricants. Such electrostatically dissipative components are required in many product lines, but especially in the computer and semiconductor industries. A surge of electrostatic charge not dissipated by an insulating material can easily destroy the product.

Test proves conductivity

igus tested the electrostatic conductivity of the ball transfer units in its in-house 3,800-meter test laboratory. The ball transfer units made of the new material xirodur F182 were tested against ball transfer units made of the tried-and-tested xirodur B180. While xirodur B180 had a surface resistance of 1012 Ω in the laboratory and had an insulating effect, xirodur F182 had a surface resistance of less than 105 Ω and is therefore classified in the conductive category according to DIN EN 61340-5-1. As a result, when using the polymer ball transfer units, the user can be sure that puncture voltages are not discharged on to transported goods or employees.

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