Curry instead of cola! Five students from Heubach, Germany have developed a vending machine for packaged spices together with engineers and trainees from EMAG LaserTec GmbH. To ensure that the salt, curry and pepper cans are picked from their compartments quickly, they used the drylin W linear guides from igus.

Putting academic knowledge to direct use: this was an opportunity for members of the Student Engineering Academy, including the students of the Rosenstein Gymnasium in Heubach. Five pupils from the 11th grade had the opportunity to get a taste of the engineering profession for over a year. In the process, they learned the basics of project management, technical drawing, gear technology and programming. Together with the knowledge from the subjects taught and the training workshop provided by EMAG LaserTec, the pupils were able to develop a vending machine for spices. For the mechanical motion, the team used the drylin W linear construction kit with the help of the young engineers support (yes) programme from igus.

The idea for the spice vending machine was born during a tour of the EMAG LaserTec factory in Heubach. There the pupils were enthusiastic about the automatic high-bay warehouse for tools and then considered a task that could be automated in everyday life. “The pupils quickly came up with the idea to build a spice vending machine for the supermarket to speed up the selection and purchasing process,” explains Jens Gruber, who supervised the project at EMAG LaserTec. “To enable the system to take the right spice from the vending machine, we needed a durable and smooth running linear guide for the axes. Therefore, the students contacted igus.”

A total of three linear guides are used in the spice vending machine. They ensure that all compartments are easily accessible so that the corresponding spice can be removed and dispensed. The triboplastics in the sliding parts of the drylin linear guide are completely free of lubricants and are suitable for use in the food industry. As there are no lubricants in the system, no dirt can stick to the linear slide and block the guide. The young engineers chose a belt drive to drive the z-axis. The problem here was the high vibration but the linear bearings were able to absorb them successfully. The drylin linear technology is not only used in innovative spice vending machines, but also in many proven vending machines, such as cash dispensers, vending machines for beverages or even in automatic order picking systems of pharmacies.

Projects such as the spice vending machine are promoted by igus as part of the young engineers support programme. With the university initiative, igus wants to support pupils, students and lecturers with free samples and sponsorship, as well as in the development of innovative projects.