Innovative design starts ‘chain reaction’

Posted on 28 Jun 2019 and read 732 times
Innovative design starts ‘chain  reaction’Prototype parts have been developed by the University of Sheffield AMRC for a company aiming to revolutionise the mechanical power transmission market with its durable, lightweight and low-maintenance roller chain.

Conventional roller chains and the toothed wheel sprockets that drive them are used for a wide range of applications, from bicycles and cars to printing presses and ships.

However, Marcel Fowler —
CEO of New Motion Labs (, the company behind the InfiGear chain link technology — believes the
new design is the biggest breakthrough in power transmission technology since the roller chain was first seen in drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci more than 500 years ago.

The new roller chain “dramatically reduces wear, as force is distributed over all of the sprocket teeth on the chain path; with current chain technology, more than 60% of the power is acting on only one tooth and chain link at any one time, leading to high mechanical wear — the main cause of downtime, maintenance and delays.”

New Motion Labs says its design achieves an 85% decrease in peak stress compared with a conventional roller chain and has potential to provide up to a 10-fold increase in the lifetime of the sprocket and chain.

Wanting to put his design theory to the test, Mr Fowler turned to the Design and Prototyping Group (DPG) at the AMRC, a part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult network.

AMRC engineers manufactured two sizes of link plates (100 of each) from 0.9mm stainless steel based on CAD designs provided by Mr Fowler and his team; these allowed New Motion Labs to assemble the InfiGear link chain.

Mr Fowler said: “Working with the AMRC via its dedicated SME help scheme enabled us to build a suitable prototype to test the technology and progress really quickly.

As a result we were able to physically see our designs, which had only been in a digital form up to that point.

“We were able to show investors our technology and raise investment for some more advanced prototyping and testing.”

New Motion Labs is now in partnership with a facility in Germany and testing the technology alongside a top-of-the-range chain.

The company is also working on its next inventions, which focus on gearing systems.

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