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Dusty affair

Guide systems in a setting head for small format tiles


  • What was needed: drylin® linear plain bearings
  • Requirements: High dust load, lubrication-free and maintenance-free.
  • Industry: Mechanical engineering
  • Success for the customer: Cost savings through the elimination of maintenance

Guides that manage without lubrication, operate reliably in dusty environments and take up very little installation space - these were the requirements for a new setting head for small format tiles. The solution: Maintenance-free drylin® linear plain bearings from igus®. They replace the previously used ball bushings, which failed after a short time due to the high dust load. The setting head of Kautenburger GmbH, Merzig-Brotdorf, also attracted attention of the "manus®" competition with its resulting significantly reduced maintenance costs.

Setting head

Dusty and cramped working conditions in a setting head for small format tiles 50 x 50 mm2


Kautenburger GmbH has been dealing with special mechanical engineering solutions according to customer requirements for about 15 years. A new setting head for small-format tiles, which can hold 240 small-format tiles 5 x 5 cm2 each in a single operation, is also the work of the current twelve employees in design, assembly production and CNC machining.
During the transfer, it gives each individual tile a joint dimension of 2 mm and then lays them down in a grid. The igus® linear bearings with polymer sliding elements support the suction heads (and the tiles) and serve to move the individual suction heads. According to the Head of Design at Kautenburger, Christian Kautenburger, the current design of the setting head is completely different from the predecessor models. Similar tasks were previously performed with ball bushings, but these failed after a short time due to the high exposure to dust. Moreover, in the past, the tiles were introduced into the grid via suction heads, but suction plates. However, most of the tiles found themselves not in the grid but on top of it and had to be inserted laboriously by hand. The new automated setting head now makes expensive manual work superfluous.


In the case of the setting head for small format tiles, a design had to be developed which, on one hand, could accommodate 240 suction cups in a very small installation space and, on the other, could move each individual suction cup into position. The biggest challenge lies in the dust load when cutting the ceramic. All guides, which can only operate with lubrication, have an extremely short service life. In contrast, drylin® products are maintenance-free and require no lubricant. The plant has been operating for several years in three shifts without much wear. Since maintenance is superfluous, many costs can be saved in maintenance. In addition to the technical specifications, the economic efficiency of a machine element in particular is a decisive selection criterion in the "manus®" competition. While igus® receives important information for future research activities here, the participant in the competition benefits from the input of the jury. First of all, it was interesting for Kautenburger GmbH to see how outsiders evaluate this work. On the other hand, an award means enhanced image, which demonstrates the willingness to innovate in customer meetings.