Historical Milestones

  • 1850
  • 1900
  • 1950
  • 2000
  • 2015
  • 1850

    Foundation of Leybold Vacuum in Cologne

  • 1853

    Foundation of the F. Saurer–Stoffel foundry

    In 1853 Franz Saurer establishes a small foundry in a suburb of St. Gallen, Switzerland. This paves the way for more than a century and a half of history of the Saurer Industrial Group.

  • 1869

    Delivery of the first embroidery machine

    Delivery of the first embroidery machine in Arbon marks the start of a long-running success story for the Swiss textile production site.

  • 1907

    Schweizerische Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon (SWO) founded – the predecessor to ...

    In September, the machine tool factory Schweizerische Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon (SWO) is founded in Oerlikon, a district of Zurich. The workforce numbers 150.

  • 1919

    Foundation of Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc.

    Fairfield Manufacturing Corporation, Inc. is founded as an offshoot of Ross Gear and Tool Company by David Ross to manufacture differential gears for the early automotive industry.

  • 1936

    SWO becomes Werkzeugmaschinenfabrik Oerlikon&Co.

    To spread his commercial risk, proprietor Emil Georg Bührle gradually expands the company by acquiring businesses in other sectors. In doing so, he lays the foundations of the highly diversified Oerlikon-Bührle Group.

  • 1939

    Pilatus Flugzeugwerke founded.

  • 1946

    Foundation of Balzers

    Gerätebauanstalt Balzers is founded as a business. The object of the new equipment manufacturer is to develop viable industrial applications for the until then under-researched thin-film technology.

  • 1946

    Saurer makes cotton machinery

    Saurer begins manufacturing cotton machines in 1946. The machines knit ladies’ stockings in all patterns customary in the industry, using nylon, Perlon, as well as artificial and natural silk. For the first time, the company is able to supply the market with comprehensive product lines and varied designs.

  • 1951

    Foundation of Graziano

    Graziano is founded as a family firm and starts its activity as a small plant with 15 employees.

  • 1952

    Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc. becomes North America’s leader in custom gear products

    Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc. moves into a new modern facility on US 52, becoming North America’s leader in the production of custom gear products. The company experiences several expansions throughout this decade, including one inhouse heat treat facility.

  • 1957

    Entry into the vacuum business

    Early on, Oerlikon-Bührle invests in pioneering technology. Today it is one of the market leaders in this sector.

  • 1968

    Entry into the European space industry

    The launch of the ESRO-1 research satellite, equipped with Oerlikon components, penetrates a market that remains lucrative to this day.

  • 1973

    Oerlikon-Bührle Holding floats on the stock market

    Now with over 100 member companies, the Group is consolidated under the Oerlikon-Bührle Holding (OBH) umbrella and floats on the stock market with a capital stock of CHF 590 million.

  • 1976

    Integration of Balzers AG into Oerlikon-Bührle.

  • 1978

    Marketing of PVD hard coatings

    Green light for the development and marketing of PVD hard coatings for tools with BALINIT® A. This innovative coating tech- nology sustainably extends the lifetime of tools subject to mechanical stress.

  • 1980

    The Oerlikon-Bührle Group employs around 37,000 people – the high-water mark in the ...

  • 1988

    Oerlikon Space lifts off

    Launch of the first European booster rocket, Ariane 4. The rocket features a payload fairing made of compound material from Oerlikon Space. Ever since, all Ariane rockets have been fitted with Oerlikon Space payload fairings.

  • 1991

    Decision to focus on technology, consumer goods and customer services.

  • 1992

    Graziano joins Saurer AG

    Graziano becomes part of Saurer AG, the worldwide leader in textile machinery, as Saurer Transmission Systems Division.

  • 1994

    Oerlikon-Bührle acquires the Leybold Group, specializing in vacuum technology, and ...

  • 1996–1997

    Graziano moves into automotive market

    Graziano concludes a cooperation agreement with Ferrari to develop and deliver a new generation of complete gear systems. These are first used in the Ferrari 360 Modena.

  • 1998

    The Oerlikon-Bührle Group is split up

    Core business is renamed Unaxis.

  • 1998

    Establishment of a branch in Tianjin, China

    Opening its first plant in China, Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum is quick to recognize the vast potential of this expanding economic region in South-East Asia.

  • 1999

    Foundation of Graziano Trasmissioni India

    Building up the plant to produce synchronizers and gears for the agricultural sector.

  • 2000

    Pilatus sold to a Swiss investor consortium.

  • 2000

    Inficon spun off and listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the Nasdaq.

  • 2000

    Large Area Coating division sold to Applied Films.

  • 2000

    Acquisition of a majority interest in ESEC to form the new Semiconductors Back End ...

  • 2000

    Oerlikon-Bührle becomes Unaxis Plasma-Therm (USA), which is acquired and integrated ...

  • 2000

    Textiles – a foothold in the chemical fibers business

    Through its acquisition of the -successful businesses Barmag AG and Neumag GmbH & Co. KG, Oerlikon Saurer Textile gains a foothold in the profitable and rapidly growing chemical fibers business.

  • 2000

    Balzers succeeds on the automotive market

    Components coated with BALINIT® are used in the world’s first massproduced car to consume 3 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers traveled (the VW Lupo 3L TDI). The BALINIT®-coated components reduce thermal load and friction drag.

  • 2001

    Leybold Optics sold.

  • 2001

    Stake in Unaxis-Nextral (France) increased to 100 percent (Semiconductors Front End ...

  • 2001

    Nimbus Technology and Engineering Ltd. (Great Britain) acquired by the Data Storage ...

  • 2001

    SPTec Signal Processing Technologies SA (Switzerland) acquired and integrated in the ...

  • 2001

    Purchase of Magnetto Group Gear Division

    Acquisition of Magnetto Group Gear Division. Growing up of Graziano Trasmissioni Group as the worldwide leader in gearing components.

  • 2002

    Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc. develops highly efficient compact wheel drive

    Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc. develops a high-efficiency, compact wheel drive with the following features: self-contained unit, fully integrated motor, brake, planetary gearing, and mounting arrangement.

  • 2004

    Full integration of ESEC into the Unaxis Group via merger.

    Delisting of ESEC shares.

  • 2004

    Realignment of the Unaxis Group structure.

    The Group’s portfolio now comprises five separate segments: Semiconductor Equipment with the divisions Wafer Processing (previously Semiconductors Front End), Assembly & Packaging (previously Semiconductors Back End) and Display Technology (previously Displays), Data Storage Solutions (previously Data Storage), Coating Services (previously Surface Technology), Vacuum Solutions (previously Leybold Vacuum) and Components and Special Systems with the divisions Optics and Space Technology (previously Contraves Space).

  • 2004

    Opening of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum production building in Cologne

    Since 2004, the Cologne plant has produced the most modern vacuum solutions, in high volumes, in close liaison with research and development. Innovative products respond to custom requirements.

  • 2005

    Under the new management the company achieves an impressive and fundamental turnaround ...

    Whereas Unaxis suffered a loss of CHF 372 million in 2004, the annual results for 2005 show a profit of CHF 18 million. All business units revert to profitability and growth. For the first time in the company’s history the holding company takes an operating approach and starts the integration and centralization of all segments (“one company”).

  • 2005

    Reinforcement of Oerlikon business units through focused acquisitions: Space ...

  • 2005

    At the Unaxis extraordinary general meeting held on June 28, 2005, a new board of ...

    Under the leadership of this reconstituted board of directors, headed by CEO Thomas Limberger, and a new management team, the steps necessary for a turnaround at Unaxis are immediately initiated.

  • 2005

    Opening of the plant in Suzhou, China

    Oerlikon opened a new location in Suzhou, China, which has developed to one of the biggest sites for the Group worldwide.

  • 2005

    Neumag enters the nonwovens business

    Neumag enters the nonwovens business and becomes the first provider of comprehensive solutions for all the main processes of manufacture of nonwoven fabrics.

  • 2006

    With the rebranding to Oerlikon, the company has opened a new chapter in its ...

    The name is a clear declaration of belief in the company’s industrial tradition and is associated with typical Swiss values such as quality, reliability, precision, and the capacity for invention.

  • 2006

    Parallel to the outstanding half-year results, the company announces its new ...

    With this move the restructuring period is successfully completed.

  • 2006

    The proposed change of name from Unaxis to OC Oerlikon Corporation AG, Pfäffikon, is ...

    Thus the foundations are laid for a new beginning with a name that is resonant of the company’s traditional values and strengths.

  • 2006

    With the foundation of the new business unit “Solar”, the company enters the ...

    This major step marks the end of a promising R&E project and the successful transformation of the former display unit into the completely new business with thin film solar modules. Oerlikon is the only supplier of production equipment for thin film solar modules worldwide.

  • 2006

    Acquisition of Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc. by Saurer

    The Saurer Transmission Systems Division expands with the acquisition of Fairfield Manufacturing Co., Inc., a US market leader in manufacturing custom gears and special drive solutions for heavy-duty industrial and off-highway applications.

  • 2006

    Establishment of the Solar Business Unit

    Formation of its new Solar Business Unit takes the company into the futuristic market of solar energy. Oerlikon is the world’s only supplier of production plants for thin-film solar panels.

  • 2006

    Comprehensive rebranding

    Renamed Oerlikon, the company stands by its business tradition and its typically Swiss values: quality, reliability, precision, and innovative flair.

  • 2007

    2007 was the most successful year in Oerlikon`s recent history.

    Sales raises by 20 percent to CHF 5.6 billion, the EBIT increases to CHF 496 million. The aim of Oerlikon is the re-alignment of R&D with the emphasis on clean technologies and nanotechnology.

  • 2007

    Oerlikon Solar is becoming a new Segment in the Oerlikon group.

    The Oerlikon group as the company continues to expand its commitment in clean technologies. The position of solar as an own segment further strengthens our presence in the emerging solar market and will enable us to extend our leadership in the marketplace.

  • 2007

    Dr. Uwe Krüger was appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Oerlikon group.

    During the 34th ordinary Shareholders` Meeting, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Dr. Hanno M. Bästlein were elected as Members to the Board of Directors.

  • 2007

    Oerlikon extends the Executive Board by two new members.

    Björn Bajan assumes the function of General Counsel. Dr. Uwe Krüger enhances the Executive Board as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

  • 2007

    Oerlikon takes over the operational management of Saurer AG.

    Oerlikon is optimizing its corporate structure in the wake of the Sauer integration. The Oerlikon Group, including the former Saurer business areas, will henceforth comprise 5 segments

  • 2007

    Takeover of Saurer AG

    Oerlikon acquires Saurer AG with two business divisions: Textile Machinery and Gears. This means the Oerlikon Group now comprises a total of five segments.

  • 2007

    P3e/INNOVA: revolutionary coating technology

    P3e marks a breakthrough in coating technology by Oerlikon Balzers in association with the INNOVA plant. The innovation results in coatings of maximum hardness at low temperatures.

  • 2008

    Due to the global economic and financial crisis, Oerlikon focuses on its core ...

    The portfolio will be streamlined to strengthen the core businesses. In consequence, Oerlikon has sold its Optics business unit in Balzers, Liechtenstein, to the management and other private local investors. Separate discussions are ongoing with respect to the other two Oerlikon Optics businesses in Golden, USA, and Shanghai, China.

  • 2008

    In the focus of the 35th ordinary Shareholders` Meeting was the election of the new ...

    Dr. Urs Andreas Meyer, Kurt J. Hausheer, Hans Ziegler and Carl Stadelhofer were newly elected to the Board of Directors. Vladimir Kuznetsov and Dr. Hanno M. Bästlein remained in the Board of Directors. Vladimir Kuznetsov will preside over the Board of Directors as new Chairman. In addition, Renova Industries Ltd. raised its share of Oerlikon to nearly 40 percent and is the new main shareholder.

  • 2008

    Sale of Oerlikon Space

    Oerlikon sells its space business to the Swiss company RUAG AG.

  • 2008

    Renova becomes a new key investor

    The Renova Group takes over 45 percent of shares (as of end 2008) in Oerlikon, thus becoming the new principal investor.

  • 2008

    Oerlikon sponsors Swiss-Ski

    Oerlikon makes a joint commitment with Pirmin Zurbriggen to sponsor young Swiss skiers.

  • 2008

    Opening of an office in Moscow and first coating center in Russia

    Oerlikon starts to develop the Russian market, opening its first office in Moscow and a coating center in Elektrostal.

  • 2009

    Oerlikon sells the Esec Business Unit to the Dutch company BE Semiconductor Industries NV.

    Furthermore, Oerlikon is divesting its Etch business of Oerlikon Systems to the management. With these steps, Oerlikon is strengthening its alignment to the core competencies.

  • 2009


    Oerlikon Barmag unveils WINGS POY, a completely new process for the production of chemical fibers. WINGS POY is far more efficient and further improves yarn quality.

  • 2010


    Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum launches DRYVAC onto the market. The new-generation pumps are of modular design and offer greatly reduced operating costs, with lower energy consumption.

  • 2010

    Successful recapitalization

    By means of a capital writedown, capital increase, and issue of new shares, Oerlikon injects around CHF 1 billion of new capital into its business and thereby places its finances on a firm footing.

  • 2010

    Oerlikon Balzers takes over German plant constructor Hartec Anlagenbau

    This takeover marks the expansion of Balzers into environmentally friendly, decorative/functional coatings for three-dimensional plastic components.

  • 2011

    Partners in innovation

    The Sauber Formula 1 team and Oerlikon Group form a partnership. They set their sights on devising new environmentally friendly initiatives and expanding existing ones.

  • 2011

    Record earnings before interest and taxes

    In 2011 Oerlikon takes its profitability to a new level. EBIT-margin now stands at a record 10 percent. A workforce of 17,000 at over 150 sites in 38 countries generates turnover worth CHF 4.2 billion.

  • 2011

    New record module by Oerlikon Solar

    Oerlikon Solar unveils a new record module with 154 wattspeak stabilized output and 10.8 percent efficiency.

  • 2011

    HEXAGON – output up to three times higher

    The new solution from Oerlikon Systems for the advanced packaging of semiconductors dramatically reduces costs while increasing output up to three times.

  • 2011

    McLaren, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin fit Oerlikon gears

    At the Geneva Motor Show, leading sports car manufacturers unveil new vehicles fitted with Oerlikon Graziano gears.

  • 2012

    Oerlikon officially opens Chinese headquarters in Shanghai

    The Chinese headquarters will consolidate the Company's eight offices currently in operation in Shanghai and unite all business Segments under one roof.

  • 2012

    Opening of Drive Systems factory and coating center in Suzhou, China

    Oerlikon Drive Systems opens its new plant in Suzhou, while Oerlikon Coating launches its expanded coating and expertise center.

  • 2012


    After a gap of eight years, Oerlikon resumed the payment of a dividend (CHF 0.20 per share).

  • 2014

    Successful market launch of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum's TURBOVAC i

    Successful market launch of Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum's TURBOVAC i a new vacuum technology for the analytics market and for research and development

  • 2014

    New Surface Solutions Segment

    With the acquisition of Metco Oerlikon sets out for growth path with the new Surface Solutions Segment: Oerlikon Balzers and Oerlikon Metco

  • 2014

    OGeco, the latest innovation developed by Oerlikon Graziano for the hybrid and ...