Our History



Erich Franke, an engineer, develops the Wire Race Bearing in 1936 while looking for a space-saving bearing solution for an optical device. He describes his invention as „a ball bearing with exceedingly low spatial requirements which easily satisfies the highest demands on a body's precision of movement in relation to another.“

Erich Franke erfindet das Drahtwälzlager



A company is established in 1949 under the name Franke & Heydrich KG. The first prospectus, informing potential customers of the benefits that Wire Race Bearings offer, receives a positive response. Initially the race rings are manufactured from home; later on they are produced in a leased workshop.

Der erste Prospekt zu Wälzlagern, damals unter dem Namen Drahtkugellager.



Franke exhibits for the first time at the Frankfurt spring fair in 1955. Franke enters into a cooperation with Rothe Erde.

1955 nimmt Franke erstmals an der Frühjahrsmesse in Frankfurt teil und geht eine Kooperation mit Rothe Erde ein.



Wire Race Bearings are integrated in aluminium bearing assemblies for the first time. In time, this reduction in weight gives the company an important competitive edge.

Erstmals werden Wälzlager in Drehverbindungen aus Aluminium integriert.



Erich Franke dies in 1965 after a short illness. His son Egon Franke assumes management of the company. The first manufacturers of circular knitting machines start to use Franke Wire Race Bearings.

Erste Hersteller von Rundstrickmaschinen setzen Franke Wälzlager ein



In 1970, the Franke principle is transferred to Linear Systems, also, thanks to the newly developed linear guidance systems and the guide carriage assembly. Wire races made of spring steel are installed in the steel and aluminium profiles.

Das Prinzip der eingelegten Laufdrähte kann erstmals auf Linearführungen und Linearsysteme übertragen werden



Franke's first high-volume series production are wire race bearings for circular knitting machines.

Wälzlager für Rundstrickmaschinen gehen 1980 in Großserie



Egon Franke retires from active management in 1981. Gerhard Groz succeeds him as partner.

Egon Franke zieht sich 1981 aus dem Geschäftsleben zurück.



Michael Helbig is appointed second managing director next to Gerhard Groz in 1982. The following years see the establishment of new branch offices and the introduction of IT systems in administration and production.

Michael Helbig kommt im Jahr 1982 als zweiter Geschäftsführer dazu



Franke introduces the Flüsterlager® in 1990, a consistent upgrade on the Wire Race Bearings. A particularly quiet and precise main bearing for computer tomography systems, it is a global success and a mainstay in Franke's success.

Als Weiterentwicklung des Wälzlagers entwickelt Franke im Jahr 1990 das Flüsterlager.



The aluminium roller guide is marketed for the first time in 1992. It combines a lightweight design, high movement speed and a particularly quiet run in a hitherto unseen quality. Soon numerous variations and adaptations for special applications are produced.

1992 kommt die Aluminium-Rollenführung von Franke auf den Markt



Plant III enlarges the production capacities. Aluminium roller guides have been manufactured here since 1995. The building also houses the manufacturing development department and the test laboratory.

Werk 3 erweitert seine Produktionskapazitäten für Linearführungen und Linearsysteme.



In 2007, Gerhard Groz and Michael Helbig hand over the management reins to Daniel Groz and Sascha Eberhard.

2007 wechselt die Geschäftsführung der Franke GmbH



Franke celebrates its 60th anniversary. The new customer and training center is opened as part of the celebrations in 2009; it is designed to hold customer conferences and to provide in-house training and technical workshops.

2009 wird das Schulungszentrum eröffnet, welches auch für interne Weiterbildungsmaßnahmen zu Wälzlagern und Linearführungen genutzt wird.



In 2012, a new facility is added to manufacturing in Plant II. Processing machines and mounting systems for bearing assemblies up to a diameter of two meters are installed there. Franke discovers the solar power industry as a new field of use for its Wire Race Bearings. Thousands of solar panels, built on Franke bearings, track the passage of the sun in Ivanpah, USA.

Bearbeitungsmaschinen und Montageeinrichtungen für Drehverbindungen bis zu einem Durchmesser von zwei Metern werden installiert



The company continues to develop. Franke develops a bearing assembly made of CFK (carbon) to cater to the general trend toward lightweight materials. Bearing series, available from stock, are added to the product program. The slim bearing segment is also expanded and becomes an independent product group. Franke presents its products and services as a partner for lightweight designs in bearings and Linear Systems at numerous trade shows in Germany and abroad. Cooperation projects with universities emerge, producing hubless rims, for instance in Formula Student.

Entwicklung einer Drehverbindung aus CFK (Karbon). Ausbau der Dünnringlager zu eigenständiger Produktgruppe.



In its highest configuration level Franke Wire race bearings are available as complete systems consisting of bearing, drive and control. The static bearing part carries the stator, the moving part works as the rotor of the electric drive. There are no additional components needed to mechanically set the bearing in transition which increases the efficiency of the system. Through the use of housing parts made of aluminum, the weight of the motor can be more than compensated.


Drehverbindung Torque Torque-Motor Typ LTD



Aluminum, plastic, carbon – lightweight bearing assemblies with integrated wire race bearings have been successfully implemented in many different combinations of materials. In 2016 alternative manufacturing processes for the production of the housing parts are being tested. Laser sintered aluminum rings from 3D printers enable us to create the lightest bearing assembly in the history of Franke. This method makes it possible to create a kind of honeycomb structure inside the housing parts, which makes the ring, at the same time, light and stiff.


3D Wälzlager Kugellager



Plant 5 increases the production area by 30%. Highly dynamic bearings for medical technology (computer tomographs) and security technology (luggage scanners) are manufactured here. The new factory building is equipped according to the latest standards in terms of energy efficiency, lighting and ventilation technology and summarizes all relevant production steps for the manufacture of highly dynamic bearings.


Werk 5: Hier werden Wälzlager für die Medizintechnik und die Sicherheitstechnik  gefertigt



70 Years of Innovation:

With a handful of loyal employees, self-developed means of production and great technical know-how, Erich Franke started as an entrepreneur 70 years ago. The wire race bearing turned out to be a brilliant product idea and was soon very popular. Then as now, innovative designers took advantage of the free choice of design and material for the mating structure and developed space-saving bearing solutions that were precisely adapted to their requirements.

Meanwhile, more than 250 people work at the Franke main plant in Aalen. Franke wire race bearings and linear systems are available worldwide through numerous agencies and partners.

70 Jahre Franke GmbH - Wälzlager und Linearführungen



Well-coordinated teams in sales and production work hand in hand to develop customer-specific components. The advancing lightweight design trend - primarily in vehicle and flight technology - continues to hold great potential for the innovative bearing and linear solutions from Franke.

The digitalization of processes and procedures is currently the biggest challenge for modern companies. For Franke, digitization means changes in the way we work and in communication internally and externally. The company focuses on the requirements and needs of the target groups. This means that Franke is well positioned to meet the requirements of the future.