From plush toys to high-precision safety components:
AIGO-TEC springs from a department of the Steiff toy company
At the age of one and a half, Margarete Steiff, born in 1847, falls ill with polio and remains tied to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Against all odds, she learns the tailoring trade and establishes Margarete Steiff GmbH in 1880. The first Steiff animal is created: An elephant made of felt, designed to serve as a pin cushion. As the first softly stuffed animal, the "elephant" quickly becomes a popular toy with children. The production of plush toys begins. The nephews of the childless Margarete join the company and continue to run the business after her death. In 1902, one of the nephews, Richard Steiff, designs the world's first plush bear with moving arms and legs.
After World War I, free capacities become available in the metal turning plant of Margarete Steiff GmbH, which used to be allocated to the manufacture of components for the moving joints of the plush toys. At the same time, the growing demand for bicycles and tyres gives Richard Steiff a brilliant idea.
Richard Steiff brings a valve cone to series production. He utilises the available capacities at the metal turning plant for the production of bicycle valves. The small department at Margarete Steiff GmbH continues to grow, winning over Germany’s tyre industry as a customer. Especially the cooperation with Continental from Hanover gave the business a major boost.
The department of Margarete Steiff GmbH is spun off to form its own organisation. The teeth of the valve thread remind Richard Steiff of a crocodile. To make sure they are listed first in the telephone directly, the ALLIGATOR valve factory is created and starts operating independently on the market. The product range now includes valve inserts as well as bicycle, car and motorcycle valves and continues to grow. Innovations and high-quality standards let sales soar despite the global economic crisis.
The patented ALLIGATOR valve cone "Pump light" for bicycles is unveiled. It is the forerunner of the lightning valve, which is now appreciated by millions of cyclists around the world.
ALLIGATOR starts running their own vulcanization department and acquires and expands their own know-how of processing elastomers. The early 1950s witness the beginning of the development and the production of snap-in valves for tubeless tyres.
ALLIGATOR Ventilfabrik GmbH becomes an independent legal entity. Shortly afterwards, the export swells to 45%, giving the valve business international reach.
Residual pressure valves (RDHV) made by ALLIGATOR are used in such renowned vehicles as the Mercedes S-Class in 1997
ALLIGATOR engineers to the first residual pressure valves (RDHV) for air springs in passenger cars and off-road vehicles.
ALLIGATOR acquires a minority stake in the Polish valve manufacturer STOMIL (founded in 1968) in 1997. Three years later, the company becomes fully owned by ALLIGATOR. In 1998, ALLIGATOR takes over the EHA valve factory W. Fritz GmbH & Co. KG - which was founded in 1931 and became “Erste Hanauer Präzisionsschraubenfabrik”
Under the brand sens.it®, ALLIGATOR develops the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) with programmable universal sensors for passenger cars. One year and two years later, respectively, the market launches in North America and Europe followed suit.
ALLIGATOR launches the sens.it HD tyre management system for commercial vehicles. A cloud-based database system provides fleet and workshop managers with such current tyre data as tyre pressure and tyre temperature at any time and worldwide.
After almost 100 years, ALLIGATOR backs away from their classic tyre valve and accessories business. The long-standing development partner TireCheck takes over the tyre management system sens.it HD for commercial vehicles. Wegmann automotive continues the classic tyre valve business and sens.it for passenger cars. However, creative minds never stop venturing. For more than ten years, ALLIGATOR has been supporting customers from the automotive and industrial sector with an all-round carefree package as development and project partners, as well as with assembly, machining and vulcanisation. For special applications, ALLIGATOR has left the tyre behind, offering a wide range of products far away from the tyre. Teaming up with their customers, ALLIGATOR develops and produces new product innovations, exploring new avenues. The plethora of technologies that are available to ALLIGATOR thanks to their expansive range of tyre valves sets virtually no limits.
AIGO-TEC machining in 2021
Robotic arm in the production of AIGO-TEC
AIGO-TEC six-spindle machine in the machining area
ALLIGATOR becomes AIGO-TEC: In line with the transition away from the classic tyre valve business, the ALLIGATOR brand is incorporated into Wegmann automotive. For this reason, ALLIGATOR Ventilfabrik GmbH changes its name to AIGO-TEC GmbH. The Polish location ALLIGATOR Polska Sp. z o.o. changes into AIGO-TEC Sp. z o.o. The AIGO-TEC brand is a throwback to the company’s ALLIGARO origins and firmly anchors the brand in the technology sector.