GKD - Gebr. Kufferath AG
Creative technological leadership: woven wire mesh for industry and architecture
Wherever challenging demands are placed on metallic meshes, GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG is the company to turn to. The technical weaving mill with its headquarters in Düren, Germany, is the world's leading producer of woven wire mesh made of metal, plastic wires and fibers. Under the umbrella of GKD – WORLD WIDE WEAVE three autonomous business units – SOLID WEAVE (industrial meshes), WEAVE IN MOTION (process belt meshes) and CREATIVE WEAVE (architectural meshes) – contribute to the company’s global success.
The driving force is GKD's technological leadership combined with closeness to the market and customer focus. The combination of state-of-the-art weaving technology, interdisciplinary problem-solving competence and innovative strength give this owner-managed enterprise a unique market status. GKD consistently transfers the product strengths and technical know-how of its individual business units to new sectors and is thus continually opening up new areas of application. Leading companies in the automotive and aerospace industries, in medical and environmental technology, in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food-processing and textile industries, in the paper- and wood-processing industries as well as builders of internationally renowned architectural works are all customers of this medium-sized, internationally active company with its staff of 591 employees.
Industrial meshes / Filtration meshes
Exemplary innovative competence and the courage to keep an open mind for unconventional ideas have characterized the entrepreneurial development of GKD since the company was founded in 1925. The product range of today's business unit SOLID WEAVE has developed to include everything from mesh for the screening of solids to filter media for solid/liquid filtration, from shielding screens for aeroplane parts to noise-reducing acoustic insulation mesh for aeroplane engines. Classic areas of application include polymer filtration for the production of fibers in the textile industry, filtration in the soft-drinks and brewing industry and process filtration in a wide range of other industrial sectors. And, particularly in the field of high-viscosity fluids, GKD's mechanically robust mesh constructions are also leading products.
Up to 600 meter long high-precise strips of fine filter media, in which wires just a quarter of the diameter of a human hair are woven, allow GKD wire meshes to be integrated directly into customer-specific automation processes, for example in the automotive industry in highly demanding electronic driving aid applications like ASP, ESP or ABS, or in the inkjet printer sector. Antiturbulence nets for aerodynamic applications, for example, in wind tunnel constructions in the automotive and aerospace industries, are further successful areas of application for GKD meshes. And this business unit has now been given strong, new impetus through the operational startup in 2004 of the world's most modern technical looms for fine mesh. High-tech filter media, a philosophy of holistic solutions and the capability of supplying complete filter systems for industrial and medical-technical applications will continue to consolidate the leading international position of this sector of the company.
As a systems supplier SOLID WEAVE filtration technology and plant engineering develops compact filter systems for specific submarkets in the solid/liquid separation sector. The integrated compact filter system MAXFLOW combines filtration and briquetting in a single piece of equipment. Without the need for filter aids, the system provides particle separation down to the micron range. The patented concept established a new generation of filters that significantly optimise central processes in the metal-working industry.
Process belt meshes
As a core component in a wide range of production processes, process belts manufactured by the GKD business unit WEAVE IN MOTION play an indispensable role in industry. The quality, construction and lifetime of GKD belts are decisive factors for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Woven plastic process belts are primarily used in solid/liquid filtration in belt filter presses or vacuum filters in fruit juice production, sewage sludge drainage and phosphor extraction. Woven metal process belts made of stainless steel or bronze – also in combination with plastic – are core products for freezing, drying, draining or heating processes. Pizzas are baked on them, mashed potato flakes are dried on them, fruit and vegetables are frozen on them. Self-steering TRACKMATIC® belts made of stainless steel or blends of plastic and metal have proven themselves in textile finishing and in nonwovens production, as well as in the processing of wood and ceramics. Especially in the fast-growing technical textiles market, GKD process belts and meshes set standards for glass, synthetic, mineral and cellulose fiber nonwovens, and in refining, forming and coating processes. In the wood-processing industry, too, process belt meshes made by the Düren-based company are well-established products. Process belts made of metal, plastic or material combinations are used all over the world in the chipboard, fiberboard, laminating and verneering as well as in the pellet manufacturing industries. With a wide and versatile range of proven constructions and promising product innovations, GKD relies in its business unit WEAVE IN MOTION on a consistent niche policy in quality-conscious target markets.
Up to 1992, few people were aware of the existence of GKD woven metallic and plastic meshes, although they were in use all over the world. The first decorative use to which they were put was as radiator grilles made of aluminium mesh. It was the beginning of the cooperation with the French architect Dominique Perrault in 1993, a collaboration which has continued for over twenty years now, which marked the birth of GKD`s business unit CREATIVE WEAVE. In their first mutual architectural project, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, GKD explored the potential for woven metallic materials for architecture and realized the production of meshes for twelve different areas of application. Wire mesh panels in widths of up to eight meters make this possible in the dimensions of even the largest-scale architectures. Apart from the weavable width and the variety of materials supplied by GKD, the success of woven wire mesh in architecture is also due to its optical and functional properties: reflectiveness, transparency and opaqueness, flexibility and robustness, permeability to light and air, practically unlimited service life, ease of cleaning, recyclability and functional protection against the sun, draughts, impacts and above all against blast waves and flying fragments from bomb detonations. Reference projects around the world include office and government buildings, museums, hotels, airports and railway stations, cinemas, carparks, bars, restaurants and boutiques, and even sports stadiums and bridges. The variety of applications ranges from external façades, ceilings, walls, partition walls and sunscreen elements to balustrades, column and staircase claddings, floor coverings and object design.
Other milestones in the success story of the business unit CREATIVE WEAVE after the Bibliothèque Nationale de France include the Cycling Arena and Indoor Swimming Pool in Berlin. In the Bibliothèque Nationale, the versatility of GKD mesh's application potential first became apparent, while the roofs of the two sports halls in Berlin demonstrated its capacities for coverage of immense surface areas. The façade of one of Europe's largest carparks, accomplished at Cologne/Bonn Airport by Murphy/Jahn, set standards for these areas of application. The optically seamless cladding of a round object was achieved for the Bertelsmann pavilion "Planet-m" at the Expo 2000 in Hannover. The "external skin" of the Expomedia Light Cube in Saarbrücken counts as one of the wire mesh façades with the largest individual elements ever installed. Today, the reference list includes the world's most prominent architects and internationally renowned buildings all over the globe. Among the latest spectacular architectural accomplishments using GKD architectural mesh are the Louis Vuitton Flagship Stores in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, Real Madrid's Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, the Formula One racing circuit in Shanghai, the Beijing Opera, the tennis stadium in Madrid or the American Airlines Arena in Miami. Consistent expansion of the product's aesthetic-functional range of use will continue to characterize this sector of the company.
Technological leadership and closeness to the market
Creative technological leadership has always been and will continue to be the driving force of the company. Many of today's important wire mesh weaves were originally developed by GKD. The producer of high-quality metallic meshes has 693 employees worldwide, 410 of them in Düren, Germany. All business units are autonomous, and operate efficiently and flexibly. Process-oriented organizational forms and flat hierarchies support the company's consistent orientation towards customer benefit. And GKD also strives for geographical proximity to its market partners – six plants – the headquarters in Germany, the others in the USA, South Africa, China, India and Chile, subsidiaries in France, Great Britain, Spain, Dubai, Qatar and representative offices worldwide. With customer orientation, a consistent policy of ongoing innovation and strategic partnerships GKD ensures the continuing successful development of the company through trendsetting ideas and products.