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No light without reflectors

The HÜHOCO group finishes metal surfaces that are used as headlight reflectors to ensure good visibility.

(Text: Dagmar Haas-Pilwat)

You can’t see a thing without light, as every driver knows. But few would guess that a little part weighing just eleven grams is what ensures optimal low-beam light. The part is known as a headlight reflector, and HÜHOCO makes millions of them. The Steel division of thyssenkrupp has been producing the basic material for the part for 20 years. The Duisburg site is the sole supplier of 0.55 millimeter hot-dip aluminum-coated steel with premium surface finish. The delivery quantity of approximately 1,100 metric tons per year is rather small, reports Frank Rateitschek, a customer consultant at thyssenkrupp. But the challenges involved in producing this niche product are that much greater. Since each component measures just five by ten centimeters, an unthinkable quantity of headlight reflectors can be produced from this material each year.

Headlight reflector
A miniature object with maximum effect: The material for headlight reflectors (shown here from VW) comes from a roll of slit strip.

The parts are used around the globe, because HÜHOCO delivers them to international headlight producers, who then offer them to car manufacturers worldwide. Managing partner André Bovenkamp has spent the last 15 years making a global player out of a holding company that was founded in 1893 and specializes in metal coatings. “The requirements are high. The products are coated on one side and must be able to withstand temperatures of up to 400° Celsius,” says Bovenkamp. “To achieve this we have developed a temperature-resistant bituminous coating technique. Our coating has to have certain properties, like the steel. For example, it has to bond firmly to the substrate, yet remain formable.”

André Bovenkamp (l.), Frank Rateitschek and Justyna Finke
Visiting a location in Wuppertal: André Bovenkamp (left), Frank Rateitschek, and Justyna Finke.

Where primary materials are concerned, Rateitschek always keeps his customer’s current needs in mind. He sees to it that supply processes run smoothly at the head office in Wuppertal, together with purchasing manager Justyna Finke. But there is more to the job than simply ensuring high quality and outstanding value for the price. They describe their approach to communication as follows: “We work together on many levels and help each other develop.”

The HÜHOCO group is called in wherever there is a need for firm bonds between metal and rubber or plastic. The group is considered a leader on the world market in the area of adhesive-coated metal strip. And despite the fact that three quarters of its sales come from dealings with the automotive industry, the medium-sized company has made a name for itself thanks in part to the diversity of its product portfolio. Many of its products, such as curtain rods and tabs for loose-leaf binders, can be encountered in everyday life. Anyone who spends their workday in safety shoes probably stands on metal inlays that went through the first stages of production in the mountainous region.

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