It all begins with a small art foundry
It all begins with a handcraft model workshop for art castings in Nuremberg’s Schweigger Street. For the small art foundry, the focus is initially on the production of models for ovens, art and construction casting as well as for epitaphs (gravestones).
Growth and upheaval during World War I
The start of World War I brings about a change at the company Diehl, as it moves away from the skilled production of consumer products to the casting of brass rods. These rods are then forged at the in-house drop forge into raw parts for munition manufacture.
Industrial production begins in 1917 with the construction of a metal plant (plant 1) at Nuremberg’s North-East Station. Diehl thereby positions itself as a Franconian manufacturer of semi-finished goods.
Expanding production of semi-finished goods
After the end of World War I, water faucets and pipes are in demand. As early as 1920 the company procures a 300 ton extrusion and tube press to produce starting material for forged parts as well as tubes for the pencil industry. Furthermore, the German Imperial Railway (Reichsbahn) becomes a major customer, and with an additional 1,200 ton press, the production of bars and tubes is expanded.
Founding of a new semi-finished goods plant in Röthenbach
A lack of expansion possibilities on the premises of Plant 1 render it necessary to found a new casting and forging plant (Plant 3) with a drop forge in Röthenbach, in direct proximity to Nuremberg. In 1938, a 3,500 ton press is put into operation – at this time, this is the largest of its kind in Germany.
War and destruction
In 1939, the company is classified as a vital to the war effort. Air raids in 1944 cause almost all buildings in Röthenbach to be severely damaged or destroyed.
Reconstruction and new start
After the war, the company Diehl faces unprecedented challenges. For a while, dismantling and rebuilding take place at the same time.
Temporarily, repair work is carried out on railroad cars of the German Imperial Railway, and everyday utensils such as ladles and pots are produced by remelting light metal scrap.
Reorientation in the post-war era
New production processes and altered demands in the post-war period render it necessary to switch the production facilities to the manufacture of high-quality copper and brass products.
As part of this reorientation, Plant 1 is shut down and in Röthenbach comparatively large production facilities with modern machining centers are set up. The main customers in the post-war period are the automotive and sanitary industries.
In 1951, a 3,500 ton press is added to the existing machinery. At this time, this is the largest of its kind in Germany. The company Diehl can claim to be among the pioneers in the area of continuous casting.
Commencing synchronizer ring production
Besides semi-finished goods, Diehl is also increasingly producing forgings at this time. In 1956, the company begins production of synchronizer rings and produces the first synchronizer ring for the synchronization of manual car transmissions.
Acquisition of Sundwiger Messingwerk
The production of semi-finished goods turns into the core business of Diehl in the 1950s. To be able to offer customers rods, tubes, forgings, wire and strip from one source, Diehl acquires Sundwiger Messingwerk in 1958.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Diehl invests in additional machines for expanding its semi-finished product activities. In 1961, a new pipe mill with a 1,600 ton press is planned and built. In 1962, the first continuous twin caster for brass is set up. This has an annual capacity of 47,000 tons.
Founding of a plant in Brazil
With the acquisition of an automotive supplier in Saõ Paulo (later Diehl do Brasil Metalúrgica), Diehl can bundle the growing activities in the area of semi-finished goods on the American market. With local production the company can also expand quickly. Over the years, Diehl do Brasil develops into an important Brazilian producer of forged parts and a supplier to automotive and transmission manufacturers on the American continent.
Expanding the classic production areas
In the 1970s, the classic production areas at Diehl are expanded further. As part of these activities, the drop forge in Röthenbach is expanded by 5,500 m2. Furthermore, an additional tube press with a pressing force of 2,350 tons is installed.
In the foundry, a dust extraction unit is built which retains between two and three tons of dust per day. The casting capacity is increased through the construction of a continually operating Demag continuous casting line. In 1977, the Schumag Hall is built.
Innovations in the area of alloys
With the alloys 410 and 420, the business area Metall develops dezincification resistant brass in 1979. This invention has a future because in increasingly soft and chlorinated water it stops zinc being removed from brass and thereby prevents its corrosion. Dezincification resistant brass finds increasing use from this time on in the sanitary and heating industry in particular.
Setting up a new strip rolling mill
Sundwiger Messingwerk puts a new, modern strip rolling mill into operation in 1982. In combination with a rough rolling mil and several continuous strip casting machines, the company becomes a pioneer in the manufacture of copper alloy strip.
Continuous development of environmental protection
In the mid-1980s, environmental protection in Röthenbach is expanded systematically. In the foundry, a heat recovery system is installed for energy savings. Furthermore, a waste water neutralization and detoxification facility are set up for neutralized chromium pickling.
The capital intensive measures not only contribute to energy and cost savings but also lead to the business area Metall being awarded for its ecological standards at the Röthenbach location during an environmental audit of the European Union in the year 2000.
New development of environmentally friendly overhead wires
Sundwiger Messingwerk develops cadmium-free and thus environmentally friendly wires in 1995. These are used by Deutsche Bahn as overhead wires and contribute to railroad electrification. In 1998, Sundwiger Messingwerk celebrates its 300-year company anniversary.
Continued consolidation of the metal business
To complement its product spectrum, Diehl takes over the French company Griset in Villers St.-Paul in 1997. This is a leading manufacturer of copper step strip and copper alloy strip for the electronics industry. In 1998, Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Edmund Stoiber officially puts the new indirect extrusion press in Röthenbach into operation.
To advance into the Chinese market, a slitting and service center is founded in 1999 in Shenzhen. A year later, Diehl takes over the The Miller Company in Meriden, USA. The company is an important manufacturer of copper and copper-alloy strip, and is also a specialist in bronze strip.
Restructuring and turn of the millennium
The shareholder structure of the corporate group which has grown over the decades is aligned with the decentralized management structure of the company. Diehl will comprise in future of four Corporate Divisions: Metall, Controls, Devices and VA Systems. The Corporate Division Devices is integrated into Diehl VA Systems in 2001.
As part of these restructuring measures, Röthenbach becomes the headquarters of the Corporate Division Diehl Metall.
The Euro is coming – partly from Diehl
From 2002, the euro is to be introduced in Germany and initially ten other states at the same time. To cover initial requirements, an impressive 70 billion coins with a weight of around 250,000 tons need to be produced. Sundwiger Messingwerk and Griset supply part of the raw material for the new currency.
Expansion of global activities
With the founding of Diehl SynchroTec Manufacturing in Wuxi in 2003, Diehl Metall sets its sights on the strategically important Chinese market in order to supply synchronizer rings quickly and flexibly to the automotive companies with local operations there.
In 2006, Diehl Metall expands its technology portfolio to include the area of coating technology. To do this, the company takes over the Berlin-based company OTB Oberflächentechnik and also founds Diehl Power Electronic in France. A year later, the French company Augé Découpage is integrated into Diehl Metall and is renamed Diehl Augé Découpage. This step allows Diehl Metall to now also offer sophisticated precision stamped strip.
Major investment at Diehl Metall
In 2004, a large investment is made in expanding the Sundwiger strip rolling mill to accommodate additional continuous strip casting facilities. This measure further reinforces the company’s position as the world’s largest manufacturer of cast copper alloy strip for the semiconductor and connector industry.
In 2005, a new tube press is set up and in 2009 a new vertical casting facility is put into operation. Both these major investments are made in Röthenbach to safeguard the company’s competitive position.
Diehl produces steel synchronizer rings
Brass synchronizer rings for the automotive industry have been one of the success products of Diehl Metall for fifty years. The number of rings produced has long since exceeded the billion mark. Against the backdrop of ever increasing engine performance, rpm and torques, the demands placed on synchronizer rings continue to rise, and in the premium vehicle segment in particular the trend is heading toward steel synchronizer rings with new, wear-resistant carbon friction layers.
In 2007, Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Günther Beckstein opens a new steel synchronizer ring production facility at Diehl Metall in Röthenbach to meet the growing demands. The total investments made over the past few years at Diehl Metall in Röthenbach amount to around 50 million euros.
Diehl Metal Applications commences operations
At the Corporate Division Diehl Metall, six companies in Germany and France are merged together in 2010 to form Diehl Metal Applications GmbH. These companies are Sundwiger Messingwerk, Diehl Metall (Shenzhen), OTB Oberflächentechnik in Berlin, Diehl Augé Découpage, Diehl Power Electronic and Zehdenick Innovative Metall- und Kunststofftechnik (ZIMK), which was taken over in the same year.
In 2012, Schempp & Decker in Berlin joins them. With this step, Diehl Metall creates a fully integrated value-adding chain across all locations which encompasses the production of strip, surface finishing, stamping and forming as well as plastic overmolding.
Founding of Diehl Metal India
In 2012, Diehl Metall founds Diehl Metal India and thereby strengthens its global activities. Synchronizer rings are produced there for global and local automotive OEMs and transmission manufacturers in India.
New steel synchronizer ring production in China
In 2015, steel synchronizer ring production is put into operation in Wuxi. Diehl SynchroTec now not only produces brass synchronizer rings but also steel synchronizer rings directly on site. The foundation for this expansion was already laid in 2013 when the company premises were extended by 11,000 m2.
Continuous expansion of the product portfolio
In 2014, Diehl Metal Applications develops alternative surfaces to meet the increased requirements for lead-free surfaces in press-fit contacts. One year later, the company takes up the new contact technology SKEDD into its product portfolio. SKEDD is a simple and reliable addition to soldering and press-fit terminations, offering direct connection technology for circuit board terminals.
Investments in quality, competitiveness and employee friendliness
At the Röthenbach location, a combined drawing facility is put into operation in 2014 at Diehl Metall Messing. Two years later, a new tube press with a pressing force of over 25 meganewtons follows. The investment measures not only contribute to producing tubes and hollow rods in an energy-efficient way but also offer increased occupational safety and ergonomic comfort for the employees.
Milestones at Diehl Metall
In the production of contact parts with Schempp+Decker press-fit zones, the volume of 2 billion parts is exceeded for the first time in 2014.
In 2015, Diehl Metal Applications and Diehl Augé Découpage are awarded the coveted Preferred Supplier Status by their customer Bosch.
In 2016, 27.3 million steel and brass synchronizer rings are produced at Diehl SynchroTec for the Asian market – more than ever before.
To safeguard future competitiveness on the automotive market, Diehl Metall develops innovative solutions for the electromobility market. The focus of attention are primarily materials and semi-finished goods made of copper alloys which are required for the electrification of the powertrain and for the power contacts of battery cells. These cell contacting systems find application at a German OEM from as early as 2013.