"Otto Hofstetter and Netstal have worked together as partners from the very beginning. This is not only due to their geographical proximity, but also to the same appreciation for quality, precision and stable value of both companies, then as now," commented Stefan Zatti, Head of Sales and Marketing at Otto Hofstetter AG at the beginning of our conversation. The enormous potential for thin walled plastic packaging was recognized at an early stage in Uznach. Since 1962, Otto Hofstetter AG has been building packaging tools at the upper end of Lake Zurich. Today, the company is an international leader in tool and mold making for PET preforms and thin walled packaging.
Identifying the potential at an early stageThe first molds for thin walled packaging were designed in 1962
Otto Hofstetter and Netstal – linked by typical Swiss corporate values
Otto Hofstetter employs 190 people at its headquarters, who generate a turnover of around 45 million Swiss francs. According to the company's own figures, the export quota of the owner-managed company is 99.8 percent. In 1997, Otto Hofstetter junior took over the management from his father who had founded the company in 1955. The company differentiates itself from its competitors by offering the highest quality, pronounced longevity and the modular design of its products.
In addition, there is an excellent service organization which clearly distinguishes the company from other mold makers. "We focus on customer service as well as expertise in repair and refurbishment. Our specialists in the after-sales service also work actively in developing and testing the quality of the finished molds. They provide support during commissioning or are quickly on site in the event of any irregularities," explained Zatti.
20 percent of all PET preforms from molds from Uznach
With 60% of sales, the PET business has now become the larger of the two main mainstays. Leading manufacturers rely on the precision PET molds from Switzerland, which can be operated particularly efficiently and enable the shortest cycle times. "Our customers can choose from a wide range of standard molds with up to 192 cavities. But we also build special formats on request," added Zatti. The company entered the PET business in the mid-1970s. The first preforms for Coca-Cola came from molds made by Otto Hofstetter. The Americans made the decision that bottling soft drinks in PET bottles would be the future. There was no suitable mold maker in North America, however, which is why they set out on a search in Europe and found what they were looking for in Switzerland with Otto Hofstetter. The first ten molds for Coca-Cola laid the foundation for the successful development of the new business branch. According to its own figures, today's market share is 20 percent of the worldwide production of PET preforms. "Netstal is our most important PET machine partner. A good third of our PET business is system solutions, and 95% of these systems contain machines from Netstal," reported Zatti.
But also in packaging, the long-standing partnership is intensively cultivated to the advantage of both companies. Thus, Netstal's profound application knowledge often flows into mold development at Otto Hofstetter. "One of our customers wanted to make a can with a flip-top cap. We brought Netstal into this project because the lid was supposed to make a special click sound when it was opened," recalled Zatti. In packaging, Otto Hofstetter concentrates on classic Netstal applications such as thin walled food packaging with and without in-mold labeling, paint buckets, plant pots, tubes and cartridges. The goal is always the same, namely to achieve the lowest possible unit costs for the customer. Besides the high repeat accuracy and longevity of the mold, this is achieved by further weight reductions and optimized cooling circuits which enable the shortest cycle times.
"From our point of view, Netstal is the first choice in the market for injection molding machines. The machines simply fit perfectly with our molds"
Mold tests and acceptances with Netstal machines
All products are manufactured at the headquarters in Uznach and are still given the typical Swiss finish by hand in highest quality today. Each mold only leaves the factory after thorough testing which is carried out under production conditions. Otto Hofstetter operates a modern and air-conditioned testing center for this purpose. This was recently extended with a new ELION boasting a clamping force of 3200 kN. A total of three Netstal machines are now available for tests and samples in the clamping force range between 100 and 550 tons. "From our point of view, Netstal is the first choice in the market for injection molding machines. The machines simply fit perfectly with our molds and the applications we serve," said Zatti. Zatti sees the main advantages of Netstal in the high availability of the machines, the excellent shot-to-shot consistency, and the general stability and longevity. "The very high injection performance of the machines should also be emphasized. This enables us to achieve very uniform wall thicknesses with low warping, all combined with the shortest cycle times," explained Zatti. The company is already considering further expansion of the testing center to include additional machines. "Demand is growing in the direction of larger molds and machines with higher clamping forces. In the selection of future machines, we certainly have Netstal on the shortlist due to our previous experience," concluded Zatti.
Arrived safely at the Otto Hofstetter Testing CenterOtto Hofstetter, Stefan Zatti, Head of Sales and Marketing, Michael Benz, Head of Packaging Technical Center, and Ruedi Speck, Head of Sales Switzerland at Netstal (from right), in front of the new ELION 3200-2900
About Otto Hofstetter
Otto Hofstetter is an internationally leading mould and die maker and 100% family-owned. The injection moulds developed and manufactured by Otto Hofstetter are acknowledged as first-class products by the global PET and packaging industry. Enterprises all over the world rely on Swiss-made moulds from Otto Hofstetter. www.otto-hofstetter.swiss