Friedrich Deckel Ag


Friedrich Deckel Ag
-8000 München 70

The precision mechanic Friedrich Wilhelm Deckel (1871–1948) from Jungingen worked as a laboratory mechanic at the Zeiss company in Jena from 1889 under the personal guidance of Ernst Abbe, one of the co-founders of the Zeiss company. At the end of 1898, Deckel set up his own mechanic’s workshop and founded the company Bruns & Deckel in Munich in 1903 together with the inventor Christian Bruns. Bruns developed the compound central shutter, which the company manufactured and marketed from 1904 onwards. Bruns left the company in 1905, but continued to develop shutters for cameras. Friedrich Deckel thus became the sole owner of the company, which now operates under the name Friedrich Deckel GmbH.

The companies Carl Zeiss, Bausch & Lomb and Alfred Gauthier became co-shareholders in 1910. In 1911, Carl Zeiss acquired the patents for the new Compur shutter from Christian Bruns. Zeiss had the cap manufactured by Deckel under license. The Compur shutter had a newly developed wheel escapement mechanism for slow exposure times.

Friedrich Deckel’s own need for high-precision machine tools for precision mechanics and mold making was largely covered by Deckel itself. Such special machines were hardly available at that time and were therefore designed and manufactured by Deckel itself. This led to the company’s decision in 1911 to offer the machines it manufactured itself to companies in the camera and optics industry in Munich that were intertwined with lids. Deckel increasingly supplied machines and shutters to other well-known camera manufacturers, such as the Agfa Camerawerk Munich in Munich. Over the years, the side business of special machine construction became the company’s core business.

In 1912, Deckel was the first company in Munich to introduce the eight-hour day, and in 1914 the company already had 500 employees.

From 1924 onwards, Deckel also manufactured injection pumps for diesel and petrol engines, as well as for the BMW 801 aircraft engine, which was built from 1940 onwards.

In the early 1950s, Deckel designed the concept of the Light Value Scale (LVS), also known as the Exposure Value Scale (EVS), and propagated matching light-value-coupled closures as an overarching standard. Such shutters were used from 1954 onwards by Rollei, Hasselblad, Voigtländer, Braun, Kodak and others, sometimes in conjunction with a quick-change lens mount that also goes back to lids, the so-called cap or DKL bayonet in various mechanically slightly incompatible variants. The light value principle was also taken up by the American APEX system in 1960.

In 1953, the company employed 3000 people and from the end of the 1950s onwards increasingly concentrated on machine tool construction. In particular, the milling machines of the FP series, especially the FP1, achieved world fame as universal, high-precision and excellently processed machines. The FP1’s more than comprehensive range of accessories and open design, which allowed it to be adapted to almost all manufacturing tasks, contributed to the widespread use of this milling machine both in test and tool making as well as in production.

In 1961, the company changed its name to Compur-Werk GmbH & Co.

Until 1972, the company, now operating under the name Friedrich Deckel Präzisionsmechanik und Maschinenbau KG, was the fourth-largest manufacturer of machine tools in West Germany. In the same year, the company was converted into Friedrich Deckel Aktiengesellschaft.

The production of camera shutters was discontinued in 1973, except for a few variants for Hasselblad cameras with Zeiss lenses, and finally completely in 1976. The production of the closures was taken over by Alfred Gauthier’s Prontor factory in Calw.

In 1993, Deckel AG merged with Maho AG to form Deckel Maho AG

In 1994, Gildemeister took over the bankrupt Deckel Maho AG, continued its milling machine concept and then operated under the name DMG (Deckel Maho Gildemeister).

From 2009, a cooperation and cross-participation with the Japanese machine tool manufacturer Mori Seiki led to the renaming to DMG Mori AG. In 2015, Mori Seiki acquired a controlling majority stake in DMG Mori AG.

Wolfgang Heinisch

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