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Story 131 – 1920 – Innovation Business model Processes

New possibilities thanks to new materials

The extrusion process produces innovative alloys

The extrusion process introduced in 1901 allowed – and required – special copper alloys. Within a few years, the number of these alloys increased explosively, as did the variety of extruded shapes and the products made from them.

After the introduction of the extrusion process at the Voehringen plant in 1901, only a handful of brass alloys were initially processed with the new technology. These include Quarta IVb, an alloy consisting of 58 percent copper, 2 percent lead and some iron. Or the particularly weather-resistant special brass Delta V with 60 percent copper, 0.8 percent lead, 1 percent iron and 3 percent manganese.

Within a decade, this evolved into seven leaded and five lead-free brass alloys and four delta alloys for rods and sections; and two leaded and one lead-free as well as one delta alloy and pure copper for tube processing. The latter process demanded a great deal from the toolmakers in particular. Time and again, they optimized the flow of material by changing the inlet radius and by lengthening or shortening the contact surface in the pressing disc. This made is possible to press ever more complex shapes.

Despite the politically and economically difficult times after World War I, Wieland succeeded in consistently pursuing its strategy of alloy diversification. In 1928 – on the eve of the world economic crisis – bars and profiles made of 12 leaded and 13 lead-free brass materials and four delta alloys were already produced on the Voehringen extrusion presses. Even more alloys were used in the extrusion of tubes, which accounted for about one third of the products. In addition to 21 lead-free and leaded brass materials, these were five delta alloys, copper-nickel materials for condenser tube production, nickel silver containing nickel (marketed under the term "Wiesilber") and pure copper. Not forgetting admiral's brass (also known as naval brass) with its particularly high resistance to corrosion.

Although the first trials with the extrusion of aluminium materials had been carried out by the end of the 1920s, the quantities remained modest for the time being. The same applied to the processing of tin bronzes. The particularly powerful presses required for these processes would not be available until a good decade later.

Nevertheless, the innovative alloys together with the extrusion process allowed an enormous expansion of the product portfolio, thanks to which Wieland survived the most difficult economic times.

Extract profile brochure 1925

A profile catalogue from 1925 shows different glazing bead profiles. They were extruded from the alloy Delta V, which contained a particularly high manganese content of 3 percent.

Extract profile brochure 1930

The elaborately hand-drawn internal profile catalogues from the 1930s already comprised several volumes with thousands of different profiles.