Arburg GmbH & Co. KG exudes family ownership and — set in the Black Forest town of Lossburg — small-town German charm.
Brothers Eugen and Karl Hehl built Arburg into a powerhouse of injection molding machines, first only small-tonnage presses but now, up to the mid-range size of 500 metric tons in clamping force.
They started small. Their father, Arthur Hehl, had founded a company in Lossburg in 1923 making medical instruments. Karl came up with the “Arburg” name in 1943 — the “Ar” came from the first syllable of his father's first name, joined the “burg” in Lossburg.
Karl died in 2010. He was 87.
Eugen is still active in the company; he loves talking to customers.
After World War II, the company made a wide range of consumer products needed as Germany rebuilt, such as hairpins and wire baskets for potatoes. Karl took decommissioned anti-aircraft guns and helped Arburg convert its production machinery from belt drives to single drives, according to a company history.
The story of how Arburg got into building injection molding presses is well-known. In the 1950s, Arburg was making camera flash devices, but the metal plug connectors corroded when they were shipped overseas. Karl thought, why not encapsulate the plugs in plastic? And in 1954, Karl designed a basic, hand-operated injection molding machine. Two years later, Arburg began series production of injection presses.
According to Eugen Hehl, there were other German companies in the region making consumer goods that had metal connectors — and they had the same problems of corrosion. They visited Arburg, saw the process, and wanted to order their own injection molding machines.
Karl Hehl, in 1961, developed the “Allrounder” concept, a clamping unit that pivots to different angles, and an interchangeable injection unit. You could run the same press in vertical or horizontal mode.
Arburg is big on history. The company has built a major historical display at its Lossburg headquarters called the Evolution Exhibit.
And the German company is big on the future — rolling out the Freeformer, Arburg's own machine for additive manufacturing.
Eugen and Karl Helh passed Arburg onto a third generation of the family: Juliane Hehl, Renate Keinath and Michael Hehl.
Michael Hehl, managing partner and spokesman for the Arburg management team, said his family's long-term vision and commitment to developing new technology is a major strength.
“We were, are, and remain independent,” Michael Hehl said. “Arburg has always followed its own path — a path that brings success to our customers and to ourselves. This has made us a major force.”
Hehl said Arburg employees respect history.
“The achievements of my father and uncle can't really be put into words,” he said. “To transform a little workshop into a global company within an industry is exceptional. As the third entrepreneurial generation, we also feel committed to this path.”
And he said customers feel comfortable dealing with Arburg, as a stable machinery company.
“Our customers invest in long-term capital goods. They therefore value excellent quality, sustainable management, long-term planning and lasting reliability,” Michael Hehl said.