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November 23, 1999

3 Min Read
Open communications fire CIM innovations

Roland Kläger believes innovation is essential to success and that nonhierarchical management is essential to innovation. And having been brought up in the molding business, he ought to know what it takes to succeed in injection molding. Forty years ago Kläger’s father started the company that still bears his name today, the Gerhard Kläger company of Dornstetten, Germany, (GKD).

During Roland Kläger’s watch as managing director, DM 14 million GKD has become an internationally recognized product engineering, moldmaking, and injection molding firm. The company has earned a reputation for responsiveness and innovation from customers like Bosch, Daimler-Benz Aerospace, BMW, 3M, Hewlett-Packard, Mannesmann, and Siemens because of its ability to produce quickly the most demanding molded parts—even when these parts require high-tech molding materials like custom-formulated oxide ceramic feedstocks.

Kläger believes that the creativity required for innovation only occurs when there are open lines of communication. Regularly scheduled company-wide brainstorming sessions are just one of the management practices seen regularly at GKD. Everyone contributes to improving performance because, through profit sharing, all can benefit from the results.

A free and open exchange of ideas speeds new project development. This gives GKD the time to test new materials and processes, while still tending to the daily responsibilities of a molding business.

Innovation management helped GKD quickly adapt to newer technologies like Pro/E 3-D CAD/CAM, all-DNC moldmaking with Charmilles EDM, rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, multimaterial molding, and Cinpres gas assist. The company can go from the receipt of a CAD file to making first shots in just four weeks. It also helped GKD add CIM to its 40-machine plastics molding capacity in just three years. And it makes Kläger confident that GKD will be molding titanium next year.

Creativity, Teamwork, Efficiency
Kläger lectures on innovation management at a local university. He often uses products from GKD as examples of what can be achieved. GKD molded the stylish ceramic coffee cup that graced the cover of our June issue of IMMC, for instance. Another equally intriguing product it molds is an oxide ceramic nozzle for high-pressure waterjet cutting.

These small nozzles with a .005-mm-diameter hole at their tips are designed to rotate and withstand water pressures up to 1000 bar (14,500 psi). Because of its wear resistance, alumina ceramic beat out stainless steel and plastics for this job.

With the help of its neighbor, Arburg, GKD engineered a fully automated manufacturing cell to mold the nozzles on a 25-ton Arburg press equipped with a Wittmann servo robot, running a four-cavity GKD tool. The cell automatically delivers parts to a custom-built debinding furnace. Parts are sintered in a 1680C kiln and are tested in-house before being shipped.

As part of its growing full-service capabilities, GKD plans to continue specializing in engineering and molding new and innovative parts in synthetics, oxide ceramics, nonoxides, and metals for high-tech markets like biomedical, aerospace, and telecommunications. Meanwhile, thanks to innovation management, GKD also has the time to find the best site for a planned expansion into the U.S.

Contact information
Gerhard Kläger (GKD)
Dornstetten, Germany
Roland Kläger
Phone: +49 (7443) 9633-0
Fax: +49 (7443) 9633-8
Web: www.klaeger.de

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