From a niche product to the world market

Ljubljana (Slovenia), 8 July 2016

"From the race track on the road" which car, motorcycle, or supplier companies not recruiting now with this slogan? A company that uses this claim since its founding in 1991 not only for advertising purposes, but also as living, is the Slovenian Akrapovic exhaust specialist. For the 25th anniversary of the brand, we threw a glance in the Slovenian works and were impressed.

By the driver to the founder of the company

Igor Akrapovic end 50, which slowly but surely is the hair of the head is a not all too tall man. It doesn't show, that in the 80s and 90s led a successful career as a motorcycle racer, which led him even in the heavily occupied race of the World Championship. Even less you can see him on that he illegally had to refine his driving skills for this on the streets of the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, as the Yugoslav province at that time no tracks existed. What is most surprising is the way the Akrapovic went to advance the development of its chimneys.

Hard times at the beginning

The year is 1991, Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia, and the import of raw materials in the country is severely limited. The supply of replacement exhaust systems for motor cycles is as much limited. Igor Akrapovic, 1991 turned his personal passion for the tuning of racing machines in a company, must smuggle the steel pipes for its products in the boot of the private cars from Italy to Slovenia. "On the border there was always much discussion at customs. "But they could to make sure each time that the tubes only for private use are somehow".

Nearly 900 employees

Akrapovic celebrated the first major success in the year of 1997, when the motorcycle race team of Kawasaki Germany became aware of the work of the Slovenes. Meanwhile, Akrapovic equips all teams are in the motorcycle World Championship MotoGP with chimneys up on Honda. With the standard titanium exhaust of the Porsche, the bridge in the car Department managed 2008 997 GT2. Now, 25 years after its founding, are engaged, in two works nearly 900 employees who manufacture products to 80 countries worldwide. And if you think, here are still smuggled steel pipes together prepared, powerfully wrong.

Development and test

We start our tour of the "old" factory in Ivancna Gorica with the workshop of the research and Development Department. Here cars and motorcycles scrutinized will be taken after it was decided that a replacement exhaust system is to be built for the vehicle. Although now some manufacturers use Akrapovic products in its production vehicles, but the accessories market continues to be the main field of activity of the Slovenes. On the lift, aprons and other components are removed to share the views of the standard integrated product. This is then measured, or laser scanned. Some manufacturers provide Akrapovic also from the outset with a 3D model. After the development work begins. In particular, the points of performance, sound, weight and design are important. In addition to the start of this Hall is also the completion of the production chain: in-house testing for motorcycles and cars are made to the final inspection of performance and noise tests. The car rig can handle up to 1500 HP, a car brand name starts with the letter K and Ö to here ever have cracked the 400 km/h.

The focus is on Titan

Also in Ivancna Gorica is the laboratory of the Titan specialists. 70 per cent of all Akrapovic products are made from the light, sturdy and rust-proof material. The major drawback of titanium is however, that it can be found in nature only in conjunction with minerals and must therefore be separated. The Titan Department cares to this process and the then required alloy. Generally we meet more technology than manufacturing company at Akrapovic. Also the individual tools and machinery of other departments will be developed in the House and built.

Of the 3D model to the titanium part

If there is a newly developed part of a 3D model, a template made of wax is printed with a 3D printer. This is then coated with ceramics, where the wax melts and runs out. These hollow parts then fills the liquid titanium. So, for example, connectors or air collectors are created. The titanium tubes for exhaust systems are bent on special bending machines. Until the end of the 90s, there is still the boss stood personally on the machines. Titanium is very hard to deform. Akrapovic is a pioneer here. "A few years ago a Chinese company wanted to see a 90-degree titanium sheet, because they did not believe that would be possible. We have sent a 180-degree arc to China. Then was"calm, CEO Uros Rosa tells us.

Carbon for the details

In addition to dealing with Titan a further very light and stable material has been the Slovenes: carbon. The carbon fiber Department produced with help of 3D printers and several autoclave exhaust fairings, diffusers and other details. 39 percent of carbon components in Ivancna Gorica are exhaust caps. After the "baking" in the autoclave is finished with clear lacquer and Akrapovic stickers. The advantage of carbon lie above all in the numerous possibilities for designing products in addition to the weight and stability benefit. "For us a product must look good. Therefore our titanium equipment also be coated, although it would not actually be necessary", said an employee.

Welding and logistics in Crnomelj

Short bus transfer to the new building in Crnomelj. In the former production hall of a German compressor company, the arsenal of the Akrapovic welder has come under recently. You're a true magician on the welding machine. One of the Chief welder lets us know: "before we hire someone, we can always a few complex welding seams pull him or her. If that doesn't work, go back home". Here is look after the logistics and shipping. The products go to the whole world. A Porsche GT3 exhaust to Sweden? Everyday. Ten Ferrari mufflers to Malaysia? No problem.

From motor racing on the road

The success proves right Igor Akrapovic. Outside his Office with direct view of the Hall of prototype development, motorcycles and aggregates from nearly 20 years are successful racing program. The first World Championship was 2000 in the "World Superbike Championship" with Colin Edwards on a Honda. The bike is still in Ivancna Gorica. 2002, the first title in the MotoGP class, followed a formula 1 commitment with BAR-Honda for the Akrapovic built an Inconel exhaust system two years later. succeeds the first Le Mans success with the Audi factory team in 2010, and 2012 with BMW in the DTM and in the same year, again with Audi to the sports car World Championship. 2014, another milestone could be added with the victory in the Dakar rally. Meanwhile, Akrapovic has over 100 titles on the corporate account. The last was added by 2015 in the MotoGP with Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha. This bike also adorns the small private museum by Igor Akrapovic. It shows how important the so much adult company in Slovenia on the motorsport world stage now has. VSE najbolj e and congratulations on the birthday of Akrapovic. (mf)