They can be found: Companies successfully combining new business concepts with traditional German strengths like engineering know how. ACTech, located in Freiberg/Saxony, is one of them. It was established in 1995, has a work force in excess of 300 and provides a high-level technical service: rapid prototyping and manufacturing of metal components. The automotive industry is a major client, ordering products ranging from sophisticated 16-valve cylinder heads to plain oil pans. Projects are turned around fast – initial prototypes are usually delivered to client testing sites two weeks after placing the order.
The key factors behind rapid delivery of precision parts are a qualified work force – 40% of staff have engineering degrees – and a high-tech production process which keeps all critical steps in-house: Client R&D departments send CAD data used for mould assembly, moulds go to the foundry, castings undergo post-treatment and quality testing. The resulting components are ready for mounting and client testing, made from the same materials later to be used in mass production. This accelerates product development on the client side – a key competitive advantage given the increase in model types and shorter product cycles.
Rapid prototyping is a niche market with good potential: ACTech sees further opportunities in extending its value chain, e.g. by producing small series, by addressing new industry sectors and entering additional geographic markets. The MBO with Halder enabled a broader group of managers to obtain a 20% share in their business and supported their plans to grow by putting an appropriate financial structure in place.
Backed by Halder, the company has strengthened machining and finishing capabilities by investing more than € 10 million in CNC equipment since 2009 and broadened its market presence from Western Europe and the US to India. In 2012 Halder sold its majority shareholding to PREMIUM Equity Partners and Cornerstone Capital.