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Story 162 – 1831 – Innovation

The high art of apparent simplicity

Roll stands play an important role in sheet metal production

The rolling of brass and copper sheets opened up new applications and thus new customers for Philipp Jakob Wieland soon after the company was founded. Wieland continues to meet the needs of the complexity of the process with continuous research and development to date.

The rolling of sheet metal from castings is one of the most important processes in metalworking. Especially since this pressure forming process does not just give the finished sheet or strip a certain thickness and a fixed format. Rather, certain desired properties can be "rolled into" the material.

Therefore, rolling is much more complex than the rolling stands used for this purpose would suggest at first glance. Apart from the alloy of the cast plates used, the number, position and shape of the rollers, the forces applied and the number of rolling operations have a considerable influence on the sheet and its properties. And of course it plays a major role whether the material is rolled in cold or hot condition. Last but not least, the type of roll stand also has an influence on the end product. A distinction is made, for example, between duo stands with two work rollers, trio stands with three work rollers - one of which is used for reversing the sheet - or also quarto stands with two work rollers and two back-up rollers.

Philipp Jakob Wieland recognised the potential of copper and brass rolling at an early stage, especially with regard to new products. For this reason, he opened a branch in a former mill in 1831 – for the sole purpose of rolling sheet metal with the water power available there. The acquisition of a mill in Vöhringen, located directly on the river Iller, also served this purpose in 1864. So it is no coincidence that one of the largest rolling mills in the world is still located there today.

In order to understand and control the complex process of rolling, Wieland has always invested enormous amounts in research and development. Even the first rolling stands did not come "off the shelf", but were extensively modified to meet the company's own requirements. Later, the legendary "Test Institute" was established which is primarily a research and development laboratory. To this day, the mastery and continuous development of rolling technology is one of Wieland's core competences. Today, however, the dimensions are rather different than back in 1831: At that time the cast plates weighed around 30 kilograms, today's slabs can weigh up to 11 tonnes depending on the alloy.

Rolling mill 1901

This roll stand was used from 1901 in Wieland's "testing institute". This enabled new techniques, alloys and processes to be developed away from production.

Rolling mill 1854

In the Vöhringen plant, this rolling stand from 1852 is still exhibited today - as a reminder of the history of the rolling mill.

Rolling mill 1927

In the Villingen plant, too, a rolling stand from 1927 is placed as a reminder of the site's past.

Heavy metal Trio hot roller

In 1951, the rolling mills, as here a heavy metal trio hot roll, were no longer operated with water or steam power, but with electrical energy.