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History

Over 100 years old and still going strong
From Glanzstoff (artificial silk) factory to industry park

Oberbruch Industry Park is situated on the former site of Glanzstoff – later Enka Glanzstoff, Enka, Akzo, Akzo-Nobel, and finally Acordis – and can look back over a century of business activity. In 1897 Dr. Max Fremery, a chemist, and Johann Urban, an engineer, applied for a patent for their method of manufacturing thread from a cellulose solution dissolved in copper oxide ammonia. This marked the birth of the artificial silk industry in Germany. Initially Fremery and Urban used their copper silk as a filament in their light bulb factory. On 19 September 1899, Vereinigte Glanzstoff-Fabriken AG was founded, with its headquarters in Wuppertal. In 1902 Fremery and Urban closed their light bulb factory. But Oberbruch continued to flourish. Copper silk was still being bought up by manufacturers of braids and trimmings.

The founders of the company realised in good time that their copper silk would soon not meet the requirements of the market, and in 1911 they applied for a patent for viscose and brought the product to maturity. Even today viscose is a core product at the Oberbruch location. The factory grew and survived despite serious setbacks – two world wars, inflation and an economic crisis. The quality of the artificial silk was constantly improved, and the technology became more sophisticated.

 

Pioneer of modern chemical fibres

In 1950 Glanzstoff Oberbruch began producing nylon. The company was a pioneer of modern chemical fibres. Growth in the synthetic fibres sector sparked a new phase of manufacturing that would completely change the face of the factory. A mere eight years later, the next shooting star in the chemical fibres sector appeared: the polyester fibre Diolen® was spun. Production of nylon was halted in 1971, because it was no longer able to keep pace in terms of quality. In 1969 major production of steel cord, which is used to reinforce tyres, began. The oil crisis in the Seventies halted teh planned investment programme. A Europe -wide chemical fibre crisis of hitherto unknown proportions emerged, which was a setback for Oberbruch.

But the Eighties began with great promise. The plant was operating profitably. In 1985 the foundation stone for the most advanced spinning mill in Europe for Diolen® polyester was laid. In 1986 production of Tenax® – a carbon fibre used as a high-strength fibre in industry and the aviation and sports sectors – was launched. In the early Nineties, the company experienced renewed setbacks. The manufacture of steel chord was halted because it was considered too susceptible to crises. Production of Cordenka® -- a type of viscose manufactured for technical applications – was wound down because of overcapacity. The location felt the effects of a generally weak economy. Severe rationalisation and restructuring measures were the result. Socially compatible cuts in staff numbers became inevitable.

Founding of the industry park
If the company was to remain at this location and provide secure jobs, a change in direction was vital. Management re-assessed the advantages – the excellent infrastructure, attractive opportunities for companies to locate their business, and fast links to the transport system – and decided to found the industrial park. New firms moved in, bringing a breath of fresh air. Oberbruch saw its chance and seized it right away. The spirit of enterprise and cooperation has produced results. As before, the largest industrial employer in the Heinsberg region is expanding and looking towards the future.