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Freek partners take the tour... - 03.03.2014

HeatWorks magazine took a little time out from the K 2013 exhibition to join the Friday bus trip to Ceramicx partner and associate Friedr Freek.

The company has been successfully developing and making electric heating elements at its Menden/Sauerland HQ since 1950.

Visitors were first given a comprehensive overview of the Freek product range and then a tour of the plant in smaller groups. This gave a real eye-opener to most; confirming the high degree of skill and know-how needed for quality, repeatability and reliability in industrial heating manufacture.

Wolfgang & Stefan Kaiser with production managers in front of extension at the Friedr Freek Factory, Menden, Germany.
Wolfgang & Stefan Kaiser with production managers in front of extension at the Friedr Freek Factory, Menden, Germany.

Most of the Freek guests were simply unaware of the complexity and intricacy involved in many aspects of production and quality control. For example, up to 50 single process steps have to be accomplished before a Freek-designed HotMicroCoil heater passes the quality control test and is declared fit for purposes.

And since Freek continues to invest heavily in this 'high end' manufacturing; in human capital; skills training and retraining, it is perhaps unsurprising that the business continues to show high growth.

HotMicroCoil heaters for injection moulding nozzles for example are the most successful and fastest growing business area at the company. They contribute nearly 50 percent to the current annual turnover of approx. 7,5 Million Euro and are expected to lead Freek over the 8 Million threshold very soon.

"...50 single process steps have to be accomplished before a heater passes the quality control test"

Success here has also spawned success in Freek's miniaturized HotMicoCoil heater range; which features cross sections as tiny as 1.0 mm, necessitating extremely tight control of geometries and tolerances not to mention the very careful selection of materials. In this area, Freek visitors were able to witness at first hand the fusion of high-level craft skills with hitech manufacturing methods.

Meanwhile, in the Freek laboratory, a number of tests were set up to demonstrate the destructive consequences of poor heater contact and thus poor heat conductivity. A variety of pass/fail parameters and means of heat and IR heat measurement and testing were also shown to the K 2013 guests as well as the effects of varied heater geometry and electric parameters on up-heating as well as steady state readings.

This feature alone was judged by many visitors to have made the Freek factory experience trip worthwhile. An everyday dealing with process heat applications has now been supported with an awareness of how exacting and delicate a business process heat can be.

Many thanks to our Freek hosts; Wolfgang Kaiser (MD), Stefan Kaiser (MD).and Michael Ablas (Auth. Rep.) for a very enjoyable day!

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