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The company Karl Kühnlein GmbH – The specialist in a market niche

The field report of a user about the new S3 generation of DESMA

With more than 50 employees, the company Kühnlein produces in Mammendorf to the west of Munich rubber and plastic products for a great number of customers worldwide in all industry branches.

The wide range of products encompasses the serial part with an annual requirement of 2 million for the automotive manufacturer through medium-sized series for medical engineering to the special part with specified quantity. In this context they process almost all plastic, rubber and silicone qualities available in the market using different manufacturing methods.

First founded in1949 as trading firm by Karl Kühnlein in Munich, the enterprise, still family-owned to this day, has become over the recent decades an expanding medium-sized business with the tendency towards special solutions managed by the two descendants Heike Fink and Klaus Kühnlein.

With the new building inaugurated in1990 at Mammendorf, they took account of the expansion; the second location still existing at that date in Puchheim was integrated there. By now Kühnlein has, however, already reached the capacity limit of space and further expansion is on the agenda for 2014.

The company Kühnlein covers the entire gamut. From project engineering to the production of sample moulds through pilot runs to the automated large-scale series. Kühnlein is certified as per the current standards.

Kühnlein provides all customary manufacturing methods from plastic injection moulding through rubber compression to rubber and silicone injection moulding. A total of 14 machines are in operation in the rubber injection moulding department as well as 5 thermoplastic injection moulding machines.

In the scope of a new acquisition of a servo-driven DESMA 968.160 ZO (S3) in mid-2012, Klaus Kühnlein was interviewed by the DESMA Regional Sales Manager for Southern Germany, Peter Hurrle, about his experiences made with the energy-saving injection moulding machine.

Mr. Kühnlein, how do you judge the current market situation and how does the company Kühnlein define itself in the global market?

The current market situation is not so important to us; due to the fact that we are well-positioned by serving the sectors medical engineering, automobile and industry, fluctuations in one of these fields can be always compensated by the other.

We define ourselves through special solutions having any kind of piece number constellation and will adhere to Germany as location in the future as well. We do not want to follow the general trend «even more, even better», but want to manufacture special solutions here in Germany, implement customer needs and help our customers with their problems. To this end we manufacture new developments from building a prototype to serial productions which support the customers; the resulting precision and partly micro-parts made of high-value materials are globally sold with focus being set on Europe.

Which measures do you take resp. which focuses do you set in order to act successfully in the market in the future as well?

Employing highly qualified staff and of course advancing and improving our in-house training, since this is the only basis for launching really good products into the market and for ensuring process integrity during production.

For this purpose we also need a machine supplier providing us with the required equipment which runs impeccably.

It is of utmost importance to us being able to response to customer needs flexibly. In this context we also have to consider the materials which are modified or new in the market in order to adapt the injection moulding machine accordingly to changing conditions – with DESMA machines we are able to do so at any time. One has to supply latest state-of-the-art equipment in order not to miss any trends.

Since 1997, well, for more than 16 years, you have been relying on DESMA injection moulding machines, which were your then motives?

To select a European supplier respectively a German one, if possible not located too far away, in order to have perfect customer service at our disposal – which we are having indeed and which is highly appreciated.

It is indispensable for us that the machines are running without longer downtimes, because we cannot accept such stops over several weeks. Here a supposedly less expensive machine investment would have a boomerang effect in everyday production later on and would take its toll.

How do you see the development of DESMA over the recent years?

We regard DESMA as our partner who builds customized special machines, who actually tries to fulfill every customer need if possible.
DESMA is continuously integrating the in-house innovations within its machines and thus has been representing to us as an interesting partner in elastomer processing.

Last year you purchased a 160-ton machine of the new S3 generation, which were the reasons of it?

The nice color: grey; as an artist I am allowed to say so!

Well, the main reason of this decision in favor of the S3 machine was actually the new screw unit with the hydraulic non-return valve. PlastControl which is essential for us. Since we frequently have material changes due to small and mean quantities, very short material set-up times are of huge importance, because they reduce these set-up costs considerably – with the new injection unit we made a big step forward.

The new development ActiveFeed enables a clearly better feeding of a major part of our rubber compounds which had been difficult to take in in the past.

Another improvement is the more stable design of the injection unit in order to mount there bigger stuffing devices.

With the advantages of the servo-hydraulic drive and the obvious positioning accuracy - the machine runs more properly.

The fascinating thing about it is the almost soundless mode of operation, compared to the standard hydraulic machine, it is just buzzing only which has of course a very positive influence on the working atmosphere. Noise at the workplace is unpleasant in the long run resp. is harmful to health. All this is reason to go ahead with servo-driven machines. Not only seen in terms of energy consumption - an essential point in our opinion – but also in terms of noise.

Have your expectations on the new S3 generation been met?

This question can be clearly answered with «yes». Higher expenditure for sure but the advantages for the user are justified in any case.

Which other innovations would you want DESMA to make for the future?

That they do not drop in their innovative strength and continue enabling their customers in the future as well to produce competitive products with the equipment made by DESMA.

To what extent do energy costs play a part in view of the possible cost-saving potential of around 30 % with the S3 machine series?

Energy efficiency is of course a crucial factor within the total cost package as far as the operating expenses are concerned, but it is still the lower share as against the wage costs. What is more important is the proper and quick functioning of a machine, here more potential can be gained. It is true, the energy costs are not a nice thing especially against the background of the current increases in price, but compared to the pays it still ranks 2nd. This is also due to the fact that many of our machines are still operated manually and we thus see things energy-wise differently than a moulder with automated production. You can't just lump them all. Nevertheless, there is yet potential to exploit depending on one's production.

Mr. Kühnlein, we are aware that you apart from your capacity as Managing Director of the Karl Kühnlein company have been active in the arts scene in and around Munich for many years. What kind of synergies can result from your job as boss of a rubber firm and as an artist?

To put it briefly: creativity is the most important thing. It is needed in both fields in order to move forward ...

Many thanks Mr. Kühnlein for your interesting answers. On behalf of the team DESMA we wish you continued success and attractive projects to which we would be pleased to add our experience and competence by way of innovative DESMA products.

For more information see the informative website of Messrs. Karl Kühnlein