What we don't have, we will make ourselves Innovations in manufacturing operations have always been important at Bosch Stroborama, electron microscope, and drilling with lasers

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  • December 04, 2013
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When Bosch doesn't have the technology to manufacture products, the engineers build the tools themselves. In 1902 it was heavy lathes, in 1930 the ultrafast light flashes of the stroborama for the continued development of diesel injection. Today, this includes machinery to drill tiny holes using powerful lasers.

Stuttgart – How do you drill extremely fine holes of various diameters into very hard metal within a short space of time and without changing the surrounding material? Bosch meets this challenge using ultra-short laser pulses. Several hundred thousand pulses blast tiny areas of metal, thereby shaping the desired hole. Valves for the highly efficient gasoline direct injection systems are among the products manufactured in this way. The extremely precise manufacturing facilities required for this cannot simply be bought – Bosch builds them itself in the Bamberg plant. The permitted tolerances for the holes are on the scale of a few thousandths of a millimeter. Such skills have a long tradition at Bosch. They bring great advantages – innovative strength and quality.

Making a virtue out of a necessity – machinery for reliable quality
In 1902, Robert Bosch found that the market was unable to supply the special lathes and grinders he needed to manufacture his new high-voltage magneto ignition system. He soon came up with a pragmatic solution to this problem – producing the tools in-house. All the skills needed for this were available in-house. In this way, it was possible to develop tailor-made solutions. In 1930, a special-purpose machinery business unit was founded, which is known today as ATMO.

Information in hundred-thousandths of a second – the stroborama
Bosch also had to develop its own measuring technology for complex research and development tasks. This ensured exceptional precision for existing and new products. It was not possible to buy the equipment that met these specifications, either. In the mid-1930s, engineers therefore built the stroborama to optimize diesel injection. This was a dark chamber filled with neon gas, at the edge of which was an injection nozzle. When diesel fuel was injected into the chamber, flashes of neon light – each as short as one hundred-thousandth of a second – were generated in rapid succession by applying high-voltage current. This process was recorded on film. By playing the film back extremely slowly, it was possible, even over 80 years ago, to precisely analyze injection processes in diesel systems and in this way optimize production.

Magnified 20,000 times – the Bosch electron microscope
An unusual but important step for enhancing manufacturing expertise at Bosch was the construction of an electron microscope. Unusual because the machine, which is as tall as a man, was developed in 1948, at a time when post-war austerity was still biting. At that time, the attention of most companies in Germany was focused exclusively on rebuilding manufacturing facilities that had been destroyed. The electron microscope was important because it contributed to developing, analyzing and optimizing innovative procedures to improve production precision. As it was capable of magnifying by a factor of up to 20,000, it was possible, for example, to improve the “lapping” process – a method, developed by Bosch, for smoothing the rough surfaces of moving metal parts. This was necessary for the diesel injection pumps manufactured in-house to function perfectly.

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The Bosch Group is a leading global supplier of technology and services. It employs roughly 375,000 associates worldwide (as of December 31, 2015). The company generated sales of 70.6 billion euros in 2015. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility Solutions, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology. The Bosch Group comprises Robert Bosch GmbH and its roughly 440 subsidiaries and regional companies in some 60 countries. Including sales and service partners, Bosch’s global manufacturing and sales network covers some 150 countries. The basis for the company’s future growth is its innovative strength. Bosch employs 55,800 associates in research and development at 118 locations across the globe. The Bosch Group’s strategic objective is to deliver innovations for a connected life. Bosch improves quality of life worldwide with products and services that are innovative and spark enthusiasm. In short, Bosch creates technology that is “Invented for life.”

The company was set up in Stuttgart in 1886 by Robert Bosch (1861-1942) as “Workshop for Precision Mechanics and Electrical Engineering.” The special ownership structure of Robert Bosch GmbH guarantees the entrepreneurial freedom of the Bosch Group, making it possible for the company to plan over the long term and to undertake significant up-front investments in the safeguarding of its future. Ninety-two percent of the share capital of Robert Bosch GmbH is held by Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, a charitable foundation. The majority of voting rights are held by Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, an industrial trust. The entrepreneurial ownership functions are carried out by the trust. The remaining shares are held by the Bosch family and by Robert Bosch GmbH.

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PI8318 - December 04, 2013

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