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FEHLMANN Milling/Drilling Machines
Fehlmann AG is a family-owned Swiss company founded during 1929, in the town of Seengen, by Willie Fehlmann - whose early work as a jobbing engineer was concerned, like so many of his kind, with providing a repair service and parts for the local metal-working industries. By 1936 his company's first machine-tools were in production - a metal-coping saw, vices and two sizes of column-type drilling machines - but it was not until 1954 (and the graduation as a professional engineer of Fehlmann's son Willie Junior) that work started on the design of what was to make the company so well known, a high-precision, bench-mounted combined milling and drilling machine. By 1958 the "mill-drill" was ready for market and, listed as the Model TB13C, was an immediate success with the added bonus that, because the co-ordinate table so well made and accurate, it proved saleable as a separate component and was soon to be found widely employed not only in engineering applications under drills (and on the tables of heavy millers for very precise work) but also attached to such things as electric-discharge machines.
By 1968 the company had developed the Model P18, a somewhat heavier and more versatile version of the original with a quill travel of 110 mm and a drilling capacity in steel of 18 mm. A 2-speed motor was fitted that drove a mechanical variable-speed drive unit (V-pulleys opening and closing in unison) to give a speed range from 132 to 45000 r.p.m. on a 50 Hz supply. A choice of three superbly constructed co-ordinate tables was offered, 280 x 210 mm, 350 x 260 mm and 450 x 260 mm, together with a range of accessories including a fine-feed quill with micrometer stop, dividing heads and sine and rotary tables. Eventually the range of tables - which could be bought separately for use on other machine tools - encompassed some nine different sizes from 140 x 330 mm, as used on the smallest-ever Fehlmann Model the P10 drill, to a substantial KSV420 which, as its name suggests, was 420 x 910 mm. By 1970 the P18 had been further improved by the availability of the Company's SF32 tool-changing system that allowed the cutter to be replaced with remarkable rapidity - a figure of under three seconds being claimed. Two years later the company's growth was such that a move was made to its present location in Seon, in the canton of Aargau, where a new factory was constructed and employment provided for around 35 staff.
During the early 1970s, with the benefits of NC control becoming obvious, Fehlamann introduced their "Picomax" range, in essence, the same mill-drill as before but fitted with a suitably-adapted control system, the new machine being shown for the first time at the 1975 Paris EMO Exhibition.
By 1992, with an increasing demand for what was now a unique and versatile product, the production area was doubled in size and the workforce grew to around 110. High-speed cutting (HSC) and 5-axis control were the next developments to excite the machine-tool world and Fehlmann were able to enter this competitive field in 1994 with their Picomax 82-M, a machine whose cutter rotated so quickly that the spindle had to be water-cooled. With an ever-increasing demand for HSC technology, Fehlmann built a new assembly hall in 1998 and, by 2004 had increased its number of employees to 160.
Although the manual mill-drill machines are still made, the company now has a more extensive range that includes CNC milling centres, HSC milling machines and specialised products such as parts-handling equipment for computer-controlled machine tools.