Franke is the inventor of the Wire Race Bearing and global technology leader in the development and production of lightweight motion systems. We are driven by the philosophy of establishing the Franke principle across a constant succession of new application areas. And at all times we focus on the highest standards of engineering, quality and customer service. Ensuring that our products continue to meet coming challenges and thrill our customers.
Erich Franke invented a new type of bearing in 1934 while searching for a particularly space-saving design: the Wire Race Bearing. Over the years we have consistently enhanced his principle of four race rings. Today our product program includes rotative and linear components – with and without drive.
We employ a workforce of over 200 at our headquarters in Aalen. We are also represented at many locations throughout the world.
The 4-point contact that Erich Franke developed permits a maximum degree of flexibility and hence lays the ideal foundation for individual product solutions. Our customers are at liberty to choose whichever material, geometry, size, bore pattern, gear and sealing they require. An extremely broad range of materials can also be used for the mating structure.
Our product solutions are always tailored to suit the specific application. From the concept to prototype construction and on to extensive test series testing, we engage at all times in close cooperation with our customers. This permits the manufacture of individual pieces and also series production.
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.
Our staff members, the dedication they show and the ideas they contribute, are key to the success of our company. They are all experts in their specific fields. Together as a team, they remain entirely committed to giving their best in the interests of our customers. This guiding principle is pivotal to our strength.
Our products are highly respected worldwide. To make sure this does not change, constant innovation is at the heart of what we do. We join with our customers to develop solutions that are tailored precisely to suit the specific application – compact, integrated, energy-efficient and economical.
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Here at Franke, protecting nature and the careful use of resources are integral elements of our corporate policies. We are committed to our own self-imposed environmental targets and continuously improve our performance in protecting the environment. In this we focus on measure to minimize and prevent burdens on the environment. We cooperate with our customers in the use of our products to create systems that preserve the world we live in and that make efficient use of energy. Our lightweight components are excellently suited to reducing weight and drive power.
We see ourselves as providers of premium-quality products that are based on our own market research, our own development and our own patents. At the same time we engage with our customers in partnerships to identify together the best possible solutions.
We feel responsible towards our customers, not just in terms of our products. Instead we accompany them from development and design, through to commissioning and maintenance.
Our entire quality management is certified according to DIN EN ISO 9001. Sustainability is the connecting link in our entire value added chain. Our environmental management system satisfies the requirements defined in DIN ISO 14001.
Documented processes in production and administration, external and internal audits also, guarantee a constantly high level of manufacturing quality. Our laboratory is equipped to conduct all necessary tests on resilience and service life. Samples and 100% inspections verify our efforts to deliver unbeatable product quality.