From cutler to precision toolmaker
The roots of our craft run deep. Nevertheless, our trade has undergone considerable changes in recent years. Widely used in all cultures, the knife is one of the oldest tools used by mankind. It was utilised as a hand axe as far back as the Palaeolithic Age. The cutlery workshops that flourished in the Middle Ages, with steel hammered and formed over fire under soot-blackened faces accompanied by constant flying sparks, are rarely found nowadays other than as a museum exhibition piece. The majority of knives were manufactured industrially in the 21st century. Handmade knives have become expensive collector’s items. Professional and training reform at the end of the 20th century saw the transformation of the traditional cutler into a cutting tool mechanic. This change of name wasn’t a case of putting old wine into old wineskins: it took into account the range of tasks that had grown in the course of industrial development and the expanded profile of the craft sector’s activities. The cutting tool mechanic has two main functions and HOPPESCHLIFF encompasses both.
In our cutting tools division, our mechanics produce machine-guided cutting tools such as machine and industry knives, focusing on circular knives and straight knives. We also manufacture and repair all kinds of manual cutting tools – from knives to shears and even skating blades. This area also covers the manufacture, maintenance and repair of cutting machines.
In the area of cutting tools, the focus is on manufacturing cutters, drills and saw blades and on resharpening their cutting edges.
Since change is the only constant in a dynamic economic world and digitisation and Industry 4.0 in particular are enormous growth drivers, the job title of “cutting tool mechanic” will soon be a thing of the past. From August 2018 the title “precision tool mechanic” has been used to cover this role. Here, too, the title change reflects a modernisation and further diversification of the profession’s requirements and activity profiles: new materials and processes as well as the use of modern manufacturing systems and machines require modified training for newcomers – and lifelong learning for everyone else. In the future, the phenomenon of 3D printing will also play an increasingly important role. Based on digital information, this enables the production of three-dimensional objects by applying material in layers. One thing is clear: boredom will never be an issue in our profession. We will follow with interest to see where the journey of the erstwhile cutler will lead in the future.