Schaeffler optimizes supply of ceramic components by building its own production facility in Schweinfurt
Ceramic components are used in key growth areas like wind power, rail transport and aerospace
Investment strengthens Schweinfurt location; close collaboration with Schaeffler Luxembourg
Establishment of ball grinding shop boosts Schaeffler’s flexibility and optimizes value creation chain
One hundred and forty years after Friedrich Fischer from Schweinfurt first made mass production of hardened steel balls possible, a ball grinding shop is once again being built at what is now Schaeffler in Schweinfurt. However, the focus is now on ceramic balls rather than steel balls. These ceramic balls are used in high-precision rolling bearings for applications in key growth sectors like wind power, aerospace, and virtually all electrification applications.
The blanks for the grinding shop will be made from silicon nitride at the recently acquired production site at Livange in Luxembourg.
Ceramic materials offer a high degree of hardness, low specific weight, low friction, and electrical insulation properties. They are used wherever conventional materials cannot provide the necessary performance and stability and where there are special requirements for the electrical shielding of components.
The ceramic components produced in Schweinfurt and Livange will be used in many promising growth areas like wind power, railway, aerospace, and medical and electric machinery, and will rapidly gain in importance in the light of the increasing electrification in all industries.
Technology of the future at Schweinfurt site
In January 2023, Schaeffler completed its acquisition of specialty manufacturer CERASPIN, which has been developing and producing premium ceramic products in Livange for more than 25 years. Following its integration, Schaeffler will then cover almost the entire supply chain in this strategically important area. The capacity to grind ceramic balls represents a further step in the consolidation of activities at the Schweinfurt site, in the ball bearing center at the headquarters of the company’s Industrial division.
Dr. Michael Pausch, Head of R&D at Schaeffler Industrial, explains: “With the opening of the new ball grinding shop in Schweinfurt, Schaeffler is taking a great tradition into the modern age. Through his invention, Friedrich Fischer and his company FAG Kugelfischer had for the first time enabled the mechanical mass production of steel balls as far back as 1883. We are now expanding our capacities for the manufacture and processing of high-value ceramic components, allowing us to optimize our entire supply and value creation chain. The new ball grinding shop will allow a future-oriented use of ceramic products in our strategic growth segments.”
First ball grinding machine in Schweinfurt 140 years ago
For the Schweinfurt site, the establishment of the grinding shop is not just a step into the future but also sheds light on its origins: In 1883, Friedrich Fischer heralded the age of mass production with his grinding machine, which was patented seven years later. For the first time, his machine made it possible to grind hardened steel balls to be even and perfectly round according to the principle of “centerless grinding” – and in large volumes no less. Fischer’s workshop gave rise to FAG Kugelfischer, which was taken over by Schaeffler in 2001.
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