The thinner the sheet, the higher the demands
Customer requirements generate new alloys and rolled products
New areas of application and customer requirements caused the demands on sheets and strips to rise sharply after 1945. This affected both the alloys themselves and the production technology. The electrical and electronics industry was of particular importance.
After the Second World War it was mainly press sheets for the plastics and furniture industry that motivated Wieland to innovate. Polished, ground or nickel-plated surfaces were in demand. The structured brass plates in particular were a long and intensive challenge for the developers and quality controllers as they required a starting material of special quality. An important innovation was a process for the structuring of brass sheets developed in-house in the 1960s.
However, the greatest challenge to Wieland's innovative strength was undoubtedly the miniaturisation in electronics that began in the 1970s. On the one hand, longer strip wires were in demand, but on the other hand minimum strip thicknesses of 0.1 millimetres or less were required. And this with rapidly increasing demands on surface quality, conductivity, flatness, surface tension, solder wettability and bendability. In the case of connectors, maximum contact reliability with light insertion and ever higher pulling forces were also required.
The number of surfaces therefore increased rapidly, and in addition to tinned strips, those with coatings – primarily with PE film - were also developed. Above all, however, new alloys were introduced from the 1970s onwards. A development originating in the USA with improved solderability was added to the Wieland range in 1974. Licence agreements were also concluded with the US company Olin Brass, among other things for the production of lead frames. In the 1980s, Wieland also developed its own products, not only for the electronics and automotive industries, but also for customers in the cutlery and clothing sectors.
A completely new manufacturing process for flat cables was developed between 2000 and 2002: ZZZip. Reminiscent of zippers and registered as a brand name, the innovation makes it possible to produce strips of thin (up to 0.076 mm) and narrow copper alloys that are separated from each other in a kind of zipper process.
Large-format press sheets, produced in a special workshop in Vöhringen, still play an albeit modest role. They are used in architecture and in the musical instrument industry, including the manufacture of high-quality cymbals and gongs.
Press sheets for the furniture and plastics industry can be used up to 4000 times in the application, then they are recycled at Wieland.
Thin strip shears cut strips to customer-specific widths; in the 1990s already in a dimensional range up to almost microscopic 0.06 millimetres.