The Austrian bell foundry Grassmayr proves that the traditional trade has nothing to do with its old fashioned image. They revive a centuries-old business with a new technology using Habasit fabric belts.
The clang of a bell is unique. To imitate it or even to put it on paper is hardly possible. Everyone has a specific melody of a bell ringing in one’s mind. It is the first stroke after a wedding or the Christmas bells each year. The clang is like a lifelong lover, it never disappears.
Since 1599 the Grassmayrs have dedicated their life to the bell foundry. The manufacturer in Tyrol, Austria creates masterpieces out of tons of bronze. The clang of the Austrian bells spreads wide over the world. In over 100 countries customers rely on the know-how of the family company. In the 14th generation of knowledge the family secret has not turned into a technological standstill, but is passed on from father to son even as it is further developed.
The Stradivari of the bells
The years after the Second World War affected the bell foundry business intensively. The demand for church bells was falling. For a lot of manufacturers it meant the end of a century-old business. The development forced many of them to quit - but not the bell foundry Grassmayr. The family company used it as an opportunity. They kept working hard on the progress of their technology. With the help of the school of applied Science Kempten they could achieve their goal to create a unique clang based on high quality. The Stradivari of the bells.
The revolution of the century-old trade is a challenge to man and fabric. To identify the problem and find a solution was the first important step they had to take. After accomplishing this task the missing link was to find the ideal fabric with damping behavior. The final key was to balance the vibration between the massive body and the tongue of the bell. The family company invested their time and passion into their love of finding the perfect ring.
The odd couple
A path of trial and error led the bell foundry Grassmayr to the fabric belts of Habasit. The solution is the belt material SNB-18E 07. Its damping behavior is exactly what is needed. For the developers it literally rings a bell. The center of rotation of the bell tongue is bound in several layers of the Habasit fabric belt. The result is a high tensile strength and a better structure-borne sound insulation that creates an extraordinary clang of the bell.
At first sight, or rather with the first clang, nobody would expect a symbiosis of the trade of the bell foundry Grassmayr and the knowledge of Habasit. The fabric belt seems to be misplaced and at the same time it is exactly where it is supposed to be. The common point of the odd couple is the company structure. Both Habasit and Grassmayr, rely on a familiar organization, tradition and innovation. A combination as unique as the clang of a bell.
Fact box Pummerin:
Pummerin is the nickname for the bell of the church tower of the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. It is the largest and heaviest bell in the country. The most famous bell of Austria chimes only on the catholic feast days and at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. To maintain this tradition the bell foundry Grassmayr exchanged the tongue of the bell in 2011. With the new technology the melody of the Pummerin will keep chiming in our minds and in reality for years to come.