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SCHUNK GRAPHITE www.schunkgraphite.com

TECHNOLOGY

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Brushing

Carbon products are the secret driving force behind so many of our everyday appliances. Andrew Pelis investigates the role Schunk Graphite Technologies has played in developing the products we all take for granted

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hen you start up your car or travel by train, you probably don’t think about the contribution carbon has played in making this possible—but carbon brushes are the hidden force behind motors that power hundreds of everyday appliances, like power tools, washing machines, blenders and hair dryers. Industry has long recognized the multitude of possibilities represented by carbon and its use in today’s manufacturing world is diverse. From industrially manufactured bearings and seals, to brushes and high temperature applications, carbon’s uses have helped to shape today’s industrial landscape.


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Schunk Graphite Technology


At the forefront of carbon technology for almost one hundred years now, Schunk Graphite Technology (SGT) has developed into one of the world’s leading providers of carbon technology that stretches across the whole gamut of industry. Schunk can engineer and manufacture a complete range of carbon and graphite, fiber composite and silicon carbide ceramic materials for various commercial applications and is also renowned for its ability to solve complicated customer problems. The example of railway technology underlines Schunk’s impact; the company has been developing and manufacturing top quality products for railway technology for over ninety years. Its range of carbon brushes, brush holders, brush rockers, earthing contacts, as well as collector strips, pantographs and third rail systems are today used around the world by operators of high speed trains, people mover systems and those operating electrical trams and traction vehicles. Such know-how has built the Schunk brand and reputation, something that still required ‘brushing up’ across North America in the 1970s. Then in 1978, Schunk Graphite Technology took the strategic decision to open a manufacturing center and distribute Schunk’s world-class products to the vast North American market. The company’s origins were already firmly set before it entered the US market and actually predate the First World War. It was in 1913, in Fulda, Germany, that Ludwig Schunk and technician Karl Ebe, founded the carbon brush factory Schunk & Ebe OHG. Following Ebe’s death in 1918, the company relocated to Heuchelheim near Giessen, Germany, and Schunk began to broaden the production program to include holders for carbon brushes, carbon products for mechanical uses, and sintered metal components. As Schunk’s technologies expanded, so did demand for its products and the Schunk Group is today active in the core markets of carbon technology and ceramics, environmental simulation technology and climate technology, sintered metal technology and ultrasonic welding technology. With a group culture based around the principles of the Ludwig Schunk Foundation (created in 1947 after its founder had passed away), sustainability is a core focus and there is a strong commitment to maintain the business independence by


Schunk Graphite Technology


concentrating on profitable growth which has derived from customer trust. Worldwide, the Schunk Group now employs over 8,000 people and has a reach in 26 countries. By the late 1970s Schunk & Ebe GmbH had subsidiaries in most European countries and also in Brazil and Mexico. At the time the Mexican operation was responsible for serving the entire North American market. When the management at that time decided to make an impact in the United States, they purchased a Babbitt bearing company in Milwaukee, that had no relationship or relevance to any of the then Schunk businesses and also bought a plastic molding company in Yonkers, New York, which it called Schunk & Ebe Carbon, but later renamed Schunk Graphite Technology. By early 1979 S+E Carbon was relocated to Milwaukee and occupied space in the Babbit bearing company, immediately making Wisconsin the focal point for SGT’s North American activities. In 1986 the company sold its bearing assets to the Braunschweiger Huettenwerke in Braunschweig and the company was then able to concentrate on its carbon business. The holding company, managed by Schunk in Heuchelheim, made subsequent acquisitions and today the business operates with two sister companies: Xycarb Ceramics in Texas (who manufacture semiconductor engineering products) and Schunk Electrocarbon, based in Toluca, Mexico and responsible for the production of machined, mechanical carbon products. Its venture into North America has proved highly successful and SGT offers its North American clients a complete line of carbon and graphite materials, carbon fiber composites, technical ceramics and specialized processing. The company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing center in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, covers 75,000 square feet and has approximately 130 employees. SGT operates to ISO 9002 standards and it primary manufacturing focus has been on carbon, graphite, ceramic and complementary products tailored to meet the demands in the electrical, mechanical and thermal application markets.


Schunk Graphite Technology

“The North American operation is Schunk’s Center of Competence for resin-bonded mechanical carbon products” The North American operation is Schunk’s Center of Competence for resin-bonded mechanical carbon products. Resin-bonded carbons are ideal for complex pressed-to-size products and for high volume, low duty applications such as seal rings for axial face seals and bearings for pumps and industrial equipment that serve the plants and machinery within the chemical and petrochemical industry, as well as in automotive, HVAC and power plant engineering, pharmaceutical and the food industry. SGT’s technologies can be seen in use in industrial motors, traction motors, tachometers, slip rings, large and small household appliances, power tools and gardening equipment, office equipment, automobile electric motors and even children’s toys.

In addition to its ISO accreditation, the company is TS-16949 compliant. The Menomonee Falls site is set-up for mass-production but equally SGT has made its name by offering technical solutions to customer problems. Its laboratories include technologies designed to measure sound and oscillation levels, in addition to radio interference suppression. Durability testing ensures that each product meets stringent quality and reliability requirements. SGT has made its name in industry by providing the components that power the equipment we take for granted in our everyday lives; it is a legacy that Ludwig Schunk would be proud of. www.schunkgraphite.com


SCHUNK GRAPHITE www.schunkgraphite.com

TECHNOLOGY


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