Industrial Products and Applications - archive issue - year , issue 2, april-may 2021

50 years of Horn

It was a Monday 27th October 1969 to be precise when Paul Horn, a carbide tool sales representative, turned up at the Gomaringen trade office. His objective: to register a business for the manufacture of carbide tools. A small facility in Gomaringen was the companys first production site. It officially started trading on 1st November 1969 under the name of Paul Horn Einstechtechnik, with the Horn family home in Waiblingen providing the headquarters for the Management Board. Today, Horn manufactures high-precision tools and accessories for metalworking at facilities covering 30,000 square metres (including Horn Hartstoffe GmbH) in the German city of Tübingen. It also has production sites in England, Italy, the Czech Republic and the USA. With around 1,000 employees and an annual turnover of more than 197 million euros in 2018, Horn is the largest industrial employer in Tübingen. Worldwide, there are more than 1,500 people working for the Horn Group. The company is celebrating its 50th birthday during its Technology Days, held from 5th to 7th June 2019.

In 70 countries on every continent, companies from the aviation and aerospace, chemical, medical technology, tool and mould-making, and automotive industries work with tools from Horn. Mention of the automotive sector also evokes memories of the birthplace of Paul Horns business idea, as the company had its origins in a garage. Horn had already rented it while he was still working as a sales representative for the carbide toolmaker Hertel. His son Lothar, now the Managing Director of the company, recalls: My father knew that mass producers like Hertel thought in tonnes and that it would not be economically viable for them to cater to demands for highly specialised tools in small quantities. Paul Horns company aimed to plug this gap by specialising in the production of grooving tools.

Mahle Horns first customer
At the end of the 1960s, the Stuttgart-based company Mahle, a supplier of pistons for combustion engines, needed a large number of the type of highly specialised tools that Horn wanted to produce. Mahle became Paul Horns first customer before the company had even been officially founded. In addition to 25,000 standard tools, the family-owned company has to date also supplied more than 150,000 special solutions to its customers across the globe. These solutions are precision tools for use in challenging machining tasks. The companys core expertise focuses on four pillars: in-house research and development, in-house coating technology, in-house carbide production and in-house manufacturing technologies. Before the Horn 312 insert was invented, manufacturers had been muddling along with individual grooving cutters; however, these frequently needed to be reground, which made them expensive and involved considerable logistical effort. Horn developed the idea of the triple-edged insert that was to be used three times. A complete set of these indexable tools would enable a machine to continue running non-stop for one or two weeks without having to regrind any edges, hold stocks of spares or worry about doing anything else. The Horn product was therefore more efficient than the tools that were already available.

The birth of a trademark
The innovative Horn 312 insert was a breakthrough that radically changed the face of grooving. Not only that, it laid the groundwork for what would later come to define Horn to this day: the ability to identify the needs of the market and develop the right product solutions by taking the technological lead. With its product innovation, Horn quickly tapped into a wider customer base and expanded its product portfolio little by little. The triple-edged insert from 1972 went on to inspire other products and innovations many tools for groove and circular milling were created on the basis of this idea. One of the earliest patent applications filed by Paul Horn was for a cutter body for a turning tool featuring the familiar triple-edged shape.

Lothar Horn joined the company in 1991. In the June of that year, the fresh impetus that the son of the company founder had injected manifested itself in the founding of a subsidiary, Horn Hartstoffe GmbH, which manufactures carbide blanks. The greater vertical integration opened up new possibilities for Horn.

50th anniversary and third generation of family leadership
The son of Lothar Horn, Markus, is the third generation of the family to run the company and is working alongside his father. Lothar Horn appointed his son, who has been with the company since the start of 2017, as Managing Director in March 2018. In 2019, Paul Horn GmbH is celebrating its 50th anniversary during its Technology Days. From 5th to 7th June, the company is opening its doors to its customers and business partners for the seventh time. Eight technical presentations along with practical demonstrations are planned for this industry event. In addition, exhibitions from a wide range of customer industries will also be on show. More than 50 partner companies are also participating in the Horn Technology Days 2019. As well as marking the anniversary, the event will include celebrations over three evenings. We are really looking forward to celebrating this anniversary together with our guests at our Technology Days, emphasises Lothar Horn.

Hartmetall-Werkzeugfabrik Paul Horn GmbH

Horn-Straße 1, 72072 Tübingen