Somewhere in the '90s
Kontich then and now...
By Anja Thielemans (December 2020)
Somewhere in the 90s, we received a big claim from a very well-known F1 team. They were facing problems with our seals and one of the biggest issues was debris in the cavity of the seal. Since it was an important account to Kontich and the opportunity was there to become even bigger and recognized in the F1 world, we couldn’t ignore their comments. One of our responses was to build a cleanroom. This is a temperature, humidity, and cleanliness-controlled room.
One machine, one table, one microscope … that’s how it all started. With a lot of agility, knowledge, and drive, our cleanroom became well known in the F1 world. When needed, we put in a lot of overtime to help the customers out, people went on airplanes with seals in their hand luggage, we were invited to the F1 circuit, lots of prototyping (with little more than a sketch to start from), and “first time ever” situations … the golden times of the F1 within Saint-Gobain & Omniseal Solutions.
Many orders were produced, assembled, and controlled piece by piece. F1 customers were the main drivers during the first years, but aviation and space companies were showing interest pretty soon as well.
The little cleanroom quickly became too small. The first reaction was to expand the room itself, but soon that option became too limited. New microscopes, a video-measuring device, 3D-measuring, more tables for assembly, forming of the spring … we needed a much bigger area. And that’s where the idea of the white room was born.
Many plans, ideas, options later, we now have a clean and open white room where F1 customers aren’t the big drivers anymore, but where aviation, space, and defense customers are now the biggest portions of the accounts.
It’s good to be clean!