Hightech in Dormagen
Coatema Coating Machinery GmbH, based in Dormagen, is a highly innovative company for tricky coating operations. The mechanical engineers develop new technical solutions for all sorts of problems and are the global leaders in many segments with their machines. The engineers and technicians from Dormagen make sure that problems relating to coating are solved and that unusual customer ideas are turned into real machines. This enabled Coatema customers from all over the world to brave the global financial crisis and even develop their sales in a positive direction.
In the hall two machines are being prepared for dispatch. One of them, used for coating films for cell phone batteries, is going to France; the other is for membranes and is going to Austria. It’s hard to imagine what goes on here in the small north industrial park in Dormagen-Horrem, hidden between the romantic Zons Fortress on the Rhine and the S-Bahn station together with the A 57. Even in the visitor’s parking lot, the visitor still has no inkling of the high-tech machines which are designed, tested and manufactured in the inconspicuous building. Every day we take things for granted without giving a second thought to how they are made. This is where Coatema Coating Machinery GmbH comes in. The company name alone reveals the company’s global orientation. As well as coating, take the ingredients “textiles” and “machines” – and you get a good description of what the company does: it makes machines for coated technical textiles. Yet days the company doesn’t just work with textiles; other substrates can also be coated with the “made-in-Dormagen” machines, although the textile machine industry is the traditional field of this highly specialized firm.
Born in Dormagen
Once a year, Dr. Andreas Giessmann, the Managing Director of Coatema, invites his customers and anyone else interested from all over the world to Dormagen. In the early years his father Herbert Giessmann ran Coatema as an engineering office in Neuss. When the company expanded and needed to relocate, it was a woman that tipped the scales in favor of Dormagen. “My mother was born in Dormagen,” Andreas Giessmann explains. Nine years ago he took over a hall in Hackenbroich but it quickly became too small. Then, two and a half years ago, Giessmann relocated the company to its current location in Roseller Straße. Today the company has grown three-fold in terms of company premises. A chemistry laboratory is also currently being built on the grounds. Furthermore, Giessmann is happy to profit from the site’s proximity to Bayer Dormagen. The man with a PhD in mechanical engineering from the Lower Rhine University of Applied Sciences, feels at home anywhere in the world – but his heart belongs to the Lower Rhine region.
When the subject is mechanical engineering, you might expect the odd person to start drifting off. But then you’d not only miss out an exciting story, but perhaps also the inspiration for a new business idea. For this is what happened to a roofer from Los Angeles. With California being so sunny, he had the idea of laying not just conventional tar boards on flat roofs for his customers, but of offering solar cells at the same time. The smart inventor searched the Internet worldwide for a potential manufacturer and ended up at Coatema. Research and development lasted a year. The roof boards and the flexible solar cells had to be combined in such a way that they would last for 20 years and provide water-tight protection from the weather, but also prevent the migration of plasticizers. Coatema found a coating solution plus a new adhesive and built the corresponding machine. The roofer went to the stock market with this solution and became rich.
“We turn customers into millionaires,” Dr. Andreas Giessmann says somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The engineer is something of a phenomenon in his industry. He represents the second generation of Coatema. 17 years ago he joined the company his father Herbert Giessmann had founded in 1974 and expanded it from an engineering office into a machine construction company. His father had gathered experience with technical textiles in textiles factories in Krefeld, Mönchengladbach and Aachen. Back then they were working with imitation leather, vinyl wallpapers, floors and lorry tarpaulins. As a self-employed constructor, he planned turn-key machines that were sold in Asia. “These days we build everything ourselves,” his son Andreas explains. The 85 members of staff in Dormagen work on something new every day. Their customers from all over the world feel well looked-after. Manufacturers have an idea for a new product but no idea how to make it. At Coatema they investigate the chemical relationships, think of a suitable process for it, build the machines required and try them out on site. Customers from Brazil to India come to Dormagen, where they can see the machines with their own eyes and take the final product in their hands. The so-called “Technical Center”, a sort of permanent exhibition, houses many prototypes that are constantly modified, improved and adapted. In addition, the company engineers developed a modular construction system and a range of patents which can handle the various coating operations.
Market leader worldwide
One of these innovative coatings produces the electrode-membrane unit as a key component for fuel cells. This project brought Coatema into the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Network NRW. The Jülich Research Center assisted with new types of chemical formulas. We also learn in passing that Coatema is the market leader in coating machines for renewable energies, i.e. batteries and solar cells. The Technical Center is full of such laboratory lines as ideas for the next stages – and orders. “Luckily there are many creative minds in Europe – and we are known in the sector for creative solutions,” Dr. Giessmann explains. He never knows what the next customer will bring. How can the seven layers for an icing cream piping bag be attached to each other? What sort of machine is needed to make chewing gum substitute? How do you attach the scouring layer onto a sponge so that it doesn’t come off? How do you attach the treads on non-slip children’s sock to the material? The only person who finds out how the solutions work is the customer. Coatema has to observe more than 300 confidentiality agreements, covering everything from airbag textiles to lighting textiles. The machines have to coat increasingly thin films, sometimes in a water bath, then under nitrogen again. These are the challenges that make Coatema what it is today. No-one is at risk of getting bored in Roseller Straße.
COATEMA Coating Machinery GmbH
Roseller Str. 4
Tel.: +49 (0) 21 33 - 97 84 0
Fax: +49 (0) 21 33 - 97 84 170