By inventing the wire race bearing Erich Franke started the rise of our company.
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.“
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.
Franke exhibits for the first time at the Frankfurt spring fair in 1955. Franke enters into a cooperation with Rothe Erde.
Franke moves into the current headquarters in Obere Bahnstraße, Aalen, ten years after the company was founded.
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.
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.
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.
Plant II is constructed outside of Obere Bahnstraße to expand the production capacities. This facility has housed processing systems for machining production since 1970.
Franke's first high-volume series production are wire race bearings for circular knitting machines.
Egon Franke retires from active management in 1981. Gerhard Groz succeeds him as partner.
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.
The company continues to grow. In 1984, the administration moves to a newly built annex, allowing for expansion in the assembly department for bearing assemblies. The 100th employee is recruited in this year.
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.
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.
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.
On the cusp of the new millennium, Franke is a modern, medium-sized enterprise and a fixed star on the marketplace. Numerous customers around the world rely on Franke Wire Race Bearings and aluminium Linear Systems. A company website goes live to present the products on the burgeoning Internet.
In 2007, Gerhard Groz and Michael Helbig hand over the management reins to Daniel Groz and Sascha Eberhard.
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.
The linear motor module FTH Drive is presented in two sizes in 2010. It combines lightweight design with extreme dynamics.
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.
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 ex warehouse, 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.
Franke is in an outstanding position to face up to future challenges. Well-practised teams in sales and production work hand in hand to develop customized components. The continued trend toward lightweight design – above all in automotive and aviation technology – offers additional, substantial potential for innovative bearing and linear solutions by Franke.