logo

Wittmann Battenfeld bets on growing market for big presses

By: Bill Bregar

April 26, 2013

KOTTINGBRUNN, AUSTRIA — Wittmann Battenfeld GmbH generated 2012 sales of 275 million euros ($358 million), about 10 percent higher than 2011, and officials said an expansion into bigger injection presses and a big backlog at the end of year points to higher sales in 2013.

The Kottingbrunn-based machinery maker plans to show a much larger press, with 1,600 tons of clamping force, at K 2013.

Wittmann Battenfeld's machines had topped out at 1,100 tons, but the company showed off its new 17,220-square-foot addition at its Competence Days 2013 event. Some 900 visitors toured the expansion in Kottingbrunn, which also features higher ceiling and larger cranes.

Wittmann Group General Manager and Georg Tinschert, managing director and CEO of Wittmann Battenfeld, analyzed the business conditions at an April 24 news conference.

Wittmann Battenfeld has missed out on some large-press sales to the robust automotive market because of press-size limitations. And automotive, at about 50 percent of total sales, is a major area for the company, Tinschert said.

But going up to 1,600 tons will help, especially in the home market of Europe, which generates 57 percent of business, he said. That's because 98 percent of all injection presses sold in Europe are 1,500 tons and below, he said.

Wittmann and Tinschert gave an upbeat forecast for this K-show year, but said they still were a bit conservative, given differences in economies around the world. The company makes injection presses, robots ands auxiliary equipment.

Sales to Asia have been "rather stable" at around 14 percent of total business, Michael Wittmann said.

"North America has been performing extremely well for us," he said. North America accounts for 28 percent of companywide sales.

Visitors to Competence Days saw 17 injection molding machines turning out everything from a hockey stick made by the Airmould process to a a bucket with handle assembled inside the mold to a credit card of polylactic acid produced with in-mold labeling.

They also saw some European-style showmanship. After technical sessions and lunch, the sound system boomed out some hard-rock beat riffs — like from the Iron Man movies. In marched a Wittmann robot-man, followed by a contingent of young men and woman that were clad in futuristic, skimpy outfits. The crowd followed as the hulking robot mechanically strode into the factory area.

Once inside, Wittmann Battenfeld's overhead cranes lifted a stage high into the air, where three drummers pounded out beats on metal barrels, Blue Man-group style. A team of trapeze artists also was raised above the crowd by the crane.

Fireworks sparkled up in the back of the machinery hall — a heavy metal experience to show off the big iron.