Press construction again exceeded the good result from the previous year. The new generation of “FB one” presses introduced in 2018 is also meeting with great interest from customers. In order to strengthen and further expand our market leadership, we have created the fundamental prerequisites in the product and service area. This is to be established in 2019.

The upward trend continues. The Fineblanking Technology segment started 2019 with high capacity utilization – thanks to ongoing strong demand in new business. Incoming orders increased yet again in 2018, and customers’ reluctance to invest seems to have been finally overcome since an upward trend became discernible in 2017. This is also reflected in the operating result, which, with net sales of just under CHF 107 million, is around 17 percent better than in 2017. EBIT was CHF 9.8 million, two and a half times higher than in the previous year.

Good market situation, growing competitors

The strongest market for press construction remains Europe, where the most orders were received in 2018. At the same time, order volumes in Asia also increased. Especially in China, Feintool presses are in high demand with customers. US business remained stable compared to the previous year. Among the drivers are the servomechanical presses in the XFT series, which have now fully established themselves on the market. Feintool’s servo technology gives it a unique selling point over its European and Asian competitors. A servo fineblanking press is so powerful and flexible that it can completely replace two older production systems.

New flagship “FB one”

The expansion of the product portfolio in 2018 was an important milestone in ensuring that the Fineblanking Technology segment is also optimally positioned in the area of hydraulic presses: After three years of development and construction, the “FB one” prototype was introduced – a symbol of the most modern hydraulic fineblanking press in the world. Key customer requirements such as high energy efficiency, networking and digitization, as well as fast and optimal handling, were precisely implemented. It paid off: At the leading trade fair for surface finishing, the EuroBLECH 2018, the “FB one” was honored in the category “Forming and Stamping Technology, Machines and Plants.” The first models are to be delivered in 2019 and will prove themselves under real production conditions. Additional orders have already been received.

Ready for more growth

In addition to the development of “FB one,” the focus in 2018 was on optimizing the infrastructure for press construction at the Jona plant in Switzerland. At the new Press Competence Center, a fineblanking press can now be produced in just 14 weeks. The products are built on parallel assembly lines in cycle production, which lets Feintool build twice as many servo-mechanical and hydraulic fineblanking presses per year.

Parallel to press construction, Feintool has also optimized its range of services for customers. Due to the constantly increasing service life and the high performance of the presses as well as the wishes of many customers, the portfolio of services was significantly expanded area in 2018. From engineering and tool design to FEINmonitoring and full-service maintenance: Feintool will support its customers with know-how in many areas in the future.

New developments initiated

The segment continues to invest in research and development projects. In particular, Feintool has once again intensified its cooperation with partners from science and industry. The Arbeitskreis Feinschneiden, which the company initiated together with the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (Werkzeugmaschinenlabor, WZL) at the German RWTH Aachen University in 2016, now comprises more than 30 international member companies from the manufacturing industry and in 2018 pursued research projects on the fineblanking of tungsten carbide and the use of lubricants for fineblanking, among other things. In the context of electromobility, Feintool is also pushing ahead with a project for the complete production of metallic bipolar plates for fuel cells, which not only involves fineblanking, but also subsequent processing steps such as automation, welding, cleaning and testing.

Outlook for 2019

In 2018, numerous cornerstones for the future were laid in the Fineblanking Technology segment. This is also where the targets for 2019 come in. The “FB one” is to be developed and launched on the market in all sizes, from 400 to 1 100 tons of press force.

The aim of all activities is to also secure the leading position on the market in the future. Thanks to optimized processes and many innovations, the Fineblanking Technology segment is perfectly positioned and expects – in part on the basis of orders received to date – a positive development of business in 2019 as well.