Next we visited the company Italbox in Portugal, in the city of Águeda. The enterprise manufactures shower units and they do it very successfully. A large part of the production goes to hotel facilities throughout the world. Armando Conceicao, who founded the company in 1999, at that time only offered three different shower unit models for sale, which were manufactured in a 300 square meters facility. Today Italbox could no longer fit into such a facility, the product range is huge and everything happens on the premises: Design and development, manufacturing, assembly and quality control. Even supplemental machines, for instance, that are used to punch holes in aluminium profiles, have been developed by the company itself. Decoration of the glass surfaces is executed by sand‐blasting with extremely fine sand ‐ naturally in house. The only thing that is not done on site is the chrome plating of the components for the good look.
Thus Italbox owns many patents, naturally also in its own name. The association with famous Italian designers is certainly desired, however Armando Conceicao, who personally guided us through his facility, emphasises that the name was more or less a chance occurrence. At the time, he submitted several names and this one was accepted. However, far as the products that leave the plant are concerned, this Italbox by no means leaves to chance. Tests have a high priority. And this took us back to the first igus® application.
The carriage sits in the rail for the glass doors. Rail and carriage are made of aluminium; one carriage has four rollers of iglidur® J and two liners of iglidur® J200. Two of these carriages are inserted in the rail and a head‐high glass door is placed on the carriages. The rollers are made of bar stock with a lathe tool designed for this purpose.
Initially Italbox used a single long carriage to bear the load of the glass door, until this was shortened, and later replaced by two short carriages. This also makes the design easier visually. The photo shows the development from left to right
To test the wear resistance of the design, and thus the rollers as well, Italbox performed its own practical test. 20,000 cycles were required, after 100,000 cycles the experiment was aborted. Result: No visible wear.
The glass doors of the unit are held in place by chrome‐plated hinges. At first, plain bearings of standard plastic were installed here, now the igus®‐component iglidur® A180 is standard at Italbox. The material absorbs virtually no water at all and thus maintains the required tolerances over the long term, this makes it ideally suited for this type of application. Another plus is the absence of the stick‐slip effect that can occur where at the commencement of a movement, a lot of force must be exerted due to the high friction resistance. This effect does not exist with the igus® components, this is ensured by the solid lubricants inside the material. These are the same lubricants that make regular maintenance unnecessary.
In the test the bearings, which by the way can be ordered as standard products in the igus® catalogue, were clearly convincing: The system had to hold for at least 20,000 cycles, after 200,000 cycles the fatigue test was aborted without the slightest indication of wear. The igus® bearings passed the test with flying colours!
Italbox stands for sophisticated design and also shows it from the outside igus® and the “iglidur® on tour” team thank Armando Conceicao and his interpreting employee Aydin Rodigues for the tour through the Italbox plant, which was just as interesting as it was detailed.
igus® and the “iglidur® on tour”-team