From product manufacturer to supplier of semi-finished products
Sheets and strip enable numerous applications
While Wieland mainly produced a wide range of end products until the end of the 19th century, this changed with the expansion of the strip and sheet rolling capacities. An important semi-finished product became cartridge strips, a preliminary product for the production of ammunition for a new military rifle.
From 1890 onwards, the production of brass sheet and strip at the Vöhringen plant increased sharply. A major reason for this was the constantly increasing number of possible applications. Ever better machines for metalworking, new metallurgical processes, better trained skilled workers and, last but not least, the continuing rise of Germany to one of the leading industrial nations created an enormous demand.
Wieland therefore greatly expanded its production capacities for sheet and strip, including an additional, for the first time steam-driven rolling mill in 1895. At the turn of the century, the product portfolio was still very diverse. Bells were still offered as well as harnesses for horses, pans, cutlery, lamps, irons and fire extinguishers. Wieland was primarily a producer of end products, semi-finished products still played a subordinate role. Their share can no longer be quantified today because they did not appear in the sales brochures and price lists of that time – and the term "semi-finished product" did not even exist.
From 1898 onwards, cartridge strips – parts cut from brass sheet for ammunition production – became an important and high-turnover preliminary product. The background was the introduction of a new carbine for the Imperial Infantry, which gained sad fame as the "G 98" in the First World War and in a modified form as the "K 98" in the Second. The military ordered huge quantities of this weapon, including the ammunition developed for it. In Vöhringen, several special double eccentric presses were set up for the production of the preliminary products.
The fact that Wieland was allowed to supply brass strip for this was only possible because the company had subjected itself to strict government quality controls. As was typical of the time, the armaments production was not viewed critically, but was openly advertised on letterheads and in brochures: The high quality requirements for the cartridge strips were official proof of Wieland's general efficiency! The division also gained enormous economic importance. During the war years from 1914 to 1918, 75 per cent of the sheet metal rolled in Vöhringen was processed into cartridge strips.
For a long time Wieland offered a wide range of products for a variety of applications. It was not until 1900 that the production of semi-finished products in the form of sheet and strip gained in importance.