Congratulations to TRUMPF USA on their 50th anniversary serving the fabricating needs of companies in the 50 states of the USA. TRUMPF Managing Director Berthold Leibinger, on a 1968 tour of the U.S., was looking for a bucolic (more like his native Swabian birthplace) location for the company to better serve the market for their punching machines (they had been selling in the U.S. since 1958 through a Swiss trading company). He came across an advantageously located industrial park in Farmington, CT, which met his desire for the availability of an experienced workforces of toolmakers. TRUMPF established a home here in Connecticut on July 14, 1969.
A few years later, I was invited by the then-head of TRUMPF’s U.S. office to meet Berthold Leibinger, who was making one of his periodic trips to the U.S. The purpose of the visit was to discuss laser cutting sheet metal, which I was then introducing into the U.S. He agreed the concept was interesting, but seemed premature. However, from that meeting, he and I developed a long relationship marked by the commonality of laser processing.
Some 15 years later, as the Editor of Industrial Laser Review, I was attending a Lasers in Manufacturing conference in Birmingham, England, where a representative of Photon Sources, manufacturer of conventional DC-excited CO2 lasers for sheet metal cutting, compared its superior efficient performance to a newly introduced TRUMPF RF-excited laser. In a subsequent scheduled paper on cutting of stainless steel, an engineer from TRUMPF GmbH, who was speaking on nitrogen-assisted, RF-excited laser cutting stainless steel and who had taken umbrage at the negative review of the RF laser, challenged the earlier speaker’s claims to laser efficiency—so much so that he devoted his session time to that subject. This provoked a response from the DC advocate, supported by comments of the session chairman and several attendees with like experience. A bit of a donnybrook evolved with the RF defender heavily outnumbered, and not being a laser physicist, closing his arguments.
I reported this affair in the July 1989 issue of ILR under the title "Bombs Away in Birmingham," an alliteration-titled defense of the RF laser that had caught my attention. This drew copious positive response from readers, one of which was a young physicist who had been assigned by TRUMPF to develop a University of Stuttgart concept for an RF laser. This laser became the workhorse that powered TRUMPF laser systems to a world leadership position in sheet metal cutting.
Over the intervening years, it has been a pleasure to interact with the TRUMPF organization, especially members of the TRUMPF family, both here in the U.S. and abroad, as they and the company have been strong supporter of industrial laser processing and Industrial Laser Solutions’ mission to advance the technology of laser-assisted manufacturing.
Fifty years later, a handsome Farmington, CT campus of buildings designed by Leibinger’s younger daughter’s firm covers some-2 million square feet. This is in combination with facilities in Plymouth, MI; Cranbury, NJ; Hoffman Estates, IL; Costa Mesa, CA; Mississauga, ON, Canada; and Monterrey, Mexico, serving customers in North America and other international locations.
As I joined TRUMPF’s invited guests in a celebratory ceremony at the Farmington campus, listening to his older daughter Nicola Leibinger-Kammüller (now CEO of TRUMPF) reminisce about her father’s journey to the U.S. and his search for a location for his company’s home here, my mind drifted to the events mentioned earlier and how my 50 years in laser material processing have been linked with TRUMPF. The one thought apropos to the celebration that crossed my mind—it’s been a great ride.