M: Schramberg’s industrial past goes back a long way. But over the past 40 years, the industrial landscape in the town in the Black Forest has undergone some profound changes. Until the 1980s, the watch and clock factory Gebrüder Junghans was Schramberg largest employer. Then came the move to quartz timepieces, and the industry found itself in crisis. The company was side-lined, there were mass redundancies, and the area ended up with Germany’s highest unemployment levels.
F: Nowadays, Schramberg is probably mainly associated with one name in particular – Trumpf. The high-tech company, which makes machine tools and is a specialist in laser technology, uniquely embodies successful structural change. With around 1,400 employees, Schramberg is now the Trumpf Group’s second largest branch factory.
M: It evolved from part of the Carl Haas factory established in 1904, which made spiral coiled springs. From 1964 onwards, the business increasingly moved into lasers, a technology that was still in its infancy. At first, the hope was that this new technology might prove suitable for balancing the oscillation system in mechanical clocks. But early tests were unsatisfactory. However, the lasers were perfectly suited for another application: automatically fixing the spiral coiled springs. Haas Laser has been part of the Trumpf Group since 1992.
F: The term laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The theoretical foundations for this technology were laid as early as 1917, by none other than the physicist Albert Einstein. The first laser beam was successfully generated in 1960 using a synthetic ruby.
M: The possible applications of laser technology are as fascinating as they are wide-ranging. Lasers can be used to drill, cut or even weld metals.
F: You can label equipment and signs, operate on eyes, remove tooth decay and, if necessary, smooth out facial wrinkles.
M: Lasers can be used to measure distances and speeds, read barcodes on products at the supermarket, scan data storage media and even surf the internet.
F: One of the items on show in the display case behind you is what’s known as an Ytterbium YAG Thin Disk with cooling device. It’s the centrepiece of a solid-state laser – at first glance, rather an inconspicuous object. But it represents one of the most important future technologies. And Schramberg is right there, at the heart of it.
Foto: © Stadtmuseum Schramberg