“How have the oil and fuel filters at MANN+HUMMEL developed over the last 75 years?”: this was the question Dr. Harald Banzhaf, product champion for these two segments and Marcel Hofmeister have been asked during a tour of the filter museum.
Hofmeister: Harald, how did it all start at MANN+HUMMEL with the production of oil and fuel filters?
Banzhaf: Early on, in the forties and fifties, stuffed filters were still being used and were sufficient without the high-tech materials we have today.
As the name suggests, cotton was stuffed into perforated boxes and this allowed the oil to flow through the filter. Our petrol pump attendant Egon was very familiar with those products and bypass oil filters where a hose made from knitted cotton fabric was pulled over a spring. During the service Egon could curl up the whole thing to place it into a spin-on filter box. The oil flowed from the outside to the inside and was filtered by the cotton fabric.
Egon also remembers how in the fifties the German automotive industry took off and helped drive the post-war German economic miracle. MANN+HUMMEL was there at the start with its air cleaners and oil and fuel filters which enabled it to lay the foundations to become one of the most important filter manufacturers in Germany.
Hofmeister: What kind of filters were needed in those days?
Banzhaf: At that time many new and more powerful engines became available on the market and these increasingly required individual filtration solutions. As early as 1950 production of the first filters with interchangeable fine filter elements started in Ludwigsburg and at the international IAA motor show in 1951 we presented the first fine paper filters which led to the first series production contracts.
Hofmeister: What were the changes made to oil and fuel filters at that time?
Banzhaf: Instead of the commonly used felt media, high quality paper started to take over as a filter media, firstly for the filtration of oil. This filter medium could be produced with different degrees of filter fineness and consistent quality and with star pleating achieved a greater filtration surface area in the housing. To meet the requirement for a quicker service and lower costs we came up with the oil spin-on filter with paper filter element. These soon replaced traditional filters with housings which had to be cleaned during the service. Fine paper filter elements have then also rapidly established themselves with fuel filters. They forced out coarse strainers and plate filters and were better able to protect pumps, nozzles and valves against wear.
Hofmeister: What changes took place in the sixties?
Banzhaf: In the sixties the vehicle fleet constantly expanded and this increased our OE and aftermarket activities. That was the time when the VW Beetle developed to become an export hit. Some of us may still remember the famous advertising slogan: “It will run and run and run…”. Many cars were already equipped with modern, spin-on filters fitted with cellulose‑based paper inserts which were replaced during servicing. Changing the filter became even easier in 1964 when the patented cam lock was introduced. At the same time the paper filter media used in oil filters became finer with a higher dust holding capacity.
Hofmeister: There are many plastic components exhibited in the museum. When did these products become part of the product range?
Banzhaf: This happened in the eighties when we developed oil filter housings in plastic which were able to withstand thermal and dynamic loads. This highly flexible material also heralded the development of modules which combine the oil filter and oil cooler in a single unit. As early as 1984 tests were made with the first oil filter modules in plastic, but these were not launched on the market. That only happened in 2003.
Hofmeister: That sounds like a succession of innovative products.
Banzhaf: That’s right, and that’s how it continued. For that reason in 2016 we were able to celebrate 75 years of pure innovation. In the nineties the subject of environmental sustainability came more into focus. In the middle of the decade we developed oil filter concepts with a metal-free, fully incinerable filter element which reduced the environmental impact. At the same time improved filter media enabled longer service intervals. Then came spin-on filters which were screwed on, the development of new fuel filter media (MULTIGRADE) for the protection of highly sensitive diesel injection systems and just a few years later the new, even more efficient fuel filter systems with prefilter and integrated water separation.