RECKLI TURNS 50: DIGITIZATION AND HANDICRAFT
Computer-led processes establish themselves in the industry. RECKLI uses new opportunities and develops innovative products. The company stays true to its tried and tested principles.
Fear of a computer-controlled apocalypse spread with the approaching turn of the millennium. The Y2K problem - also known as the Year-2000 problem – set the public into a frenzy: People feared that a programming error would lead to a massive computer crash at the turn of the year 1999/2000, affecting banks, power plants and even weapons systems. In the end, the actual impact was negligible due to extensive tests and troubleshooting measures - but it demonstrates how severely the industry and society had become dependent on computers since the 1980s.
Computer technology had also long since found its way to RECKLI and not only simplified accounting and communication processes, but also allowed for experimentation with new products. For RECKLI, it was clear that the molds’ quality could only be guaranteed by manual handicraft. Nevertheless, the new, computer-supported options were not to be left unused: The company developed photo-engraving molds which allows photos to be applied onto façades. The photos are computer-scanned and converted into a grayscale file, which then serve as a template for the computer-controlled CNC milling machine. The milling machine applies the motif as a positive model to a plate material, on which the mold is then cast by hand. One of the first impressive reference objects for photo-engraving technology was the extension to the Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse. The architect selected eight different photos with scientific motifs - from Einstein's e=mc2 to Marie Curie - which were compiled into a photo collage using a façade plan. Depending on the sun’s position and light incidence, the photos are either clearly or only slightly visible. The development of photo-engraving molds also reflects two other important developments for RECKLI in the 1990s: In 1996 RECKLI bought the French competitor SOCECO and formed the subsidiary SOCECO RECKLI SA, which was managed by Bernd Trompeter from then on. France developed into an important and innovative market for structural concrete in the following years.
SOCECO RECKLI established itself as a reliable partner for French architects who always seek highly expressive details for their designs. From the late 1990s, for example, the French subsidiary took the lead in producing custom molds. The company exported 900 special forms to Russia in 1998. A villa area was constructed there, with façade elements in the style of Parisian architect George-Eugène Haussmann, who architecturally redesigned Paris under Napoleon III. Three years later SOCECO RECKLI supplied numerous special forms for the gladiator arena in the French amusement park Puy de Fou. In 2003, Europapark Rust also trusted in the special forms of the French and designed the Hotel Colosseo in a Roman style with custom RECKLI molds.
But the French subsidiary was not the only one conquering new markets. Since 2002 Bernd Trompeter has also been responsible for the export management of RECKLI and has been substantially expanding the existing sales network. From its base in Herne, RECKLI now began expanding to new continents. In 2005, RECKLI delivered the first molds to Australia; Two years later the first molds were produced there.
The development of photo-engraving molds and the rise of special forms also marked a new way of thinking in the construction industry. The limits of concrete as a building and design material were challenged and expanded once more. Exposed concrete walls in the interior become a design statement. Structural concrete became architectural concrete, which can assume spectacular forms on façades and in interior design. The driving force behind the new design options: RECKLI.