Crisis? New product!


Ibiden defied two world wars and a number of economic crises with maximum flexibility. Over the course of its 105-year history, the company repeatedly changed its products. Geared towards whatever was needed at the time.

The Daimler Supplier Awards 2015 were presented a little over a year ago. Honored in the category ‘Innovation’ by Global Procurement Trucks and Buses back then: Ibiden. The Japanese company and its state-of-the-art diesel particulate filters helped Daimler Trucks to lower fuel consumption and thereby be even greener on the road. The product of an experienced automotive supplier? Today, yes. However, with a view to the company’s history, it would be more accurate to say: that of an all-rounder.

Ibiden 105 years ago, back then still as a hydropower plant.

Everything started with a crisis

The company started in 1912 as a hydropower plant. The conditions were adverse from day one: economic recession and a sputtering supply of water wheels from Germany due to the First World War. Ibiden, back then still under a different name, quickly went into the electrochemical business. It produced carbide and carbon.

The city of Ogaki is considered Japan's most centrally located city. In the 1920s, the city experienced an economic boom.

From city developer to building materials Producer

Ogaki City. The headquarters of the company. In the early 1920s, Ibiden and its electric power were an important driving force of the urban development. Many cotton spinning companies and chemical companies emerged. Another difficult phase in 1923. This time, Japan was rocked by a financial crisis. The company was bought by others and a few years later had to surrender two of its five power plants when electric power was put under government control during the Sino-Japanese War.


Movie theaters and other buildings

Damaged by the war, Ibiden produced mostly carbide and nitrolime in the early 1950s. Nobody needed carbon for searchlights any longer. The carbon fabricated here was needed for movie theaters, as a light source for film projectors. However, the rise of xenon lamps ensured that this boom was short-lived as well.

Early film projectors used carbon as a light source.

Ibiden changed track again and henceforth focused on the production of carbide metals for the organic synthesis of vinyl chloride. A few years later, a new production process made a more efficient production possible, forcing the company again to rethink its business. The company now produced carbide metals for desulfurization in steel production. In the 1960s, the company went into the housing materials operation. Decorative laminate, material for ceilings and floors. Everything “made by Ibiden”. The air carbon arc process was actively used in the shipbuilding industry.

Another low hit in 1973 with the oil crisis. Energy supplies were cut, the construction boom was over. Ibiden decided to stop making electrochemical products and once again set new priorities. Some of these are in effect to this day. Like the name of the company, which it chose for itself in 1982 for the 70th anniversary.

Ibiden stands for cutting-edge technologies in filter systems. It is one of our champions for innovative products. Why? Because they’re constantly pushing ideas.

Dr. Marcus Schoenenberg, Head of Global Procurement Trucks and Buses at the Daimler Supplier Award 2015.

A turbulent success Story

Since the 1980s, the product range primarily comprises electronics and ceramic products. These include wiring boards and plastic packaging, but also carbon parts. Diesel particulate filters have been part of the product range of the Japanese company since 1999. The company’s global positioning is likewise in keeping with the times: 44 locations in 19 countries.

After 105 years, Ibiden can consequently refer to its own history as a success story. The partnership with Daimler is one for sure. Viewing the history still to come with optimism should therefore be permitted.

Feb 23, 2017
Nadescha Vornehm