Jewellery Technology & Machinery - JTM
C. HAFNER & HILDERBRAND
Bringing in World Class Products and Services to the Precious Metals Industry

In an exclusive with Dr. Thierry Copponnex, Managing Director C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND, the JTM bureau gets to know about one the world’s foremost products of the company in the precious metals Industry. In this Interview, Dr. Thierry Copponnex also talks about the various initiatives taken by the company to keep the environment and our ecology safe. Excerpts:

C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND has been synonymous with the Precious Metals Industry since the last 170 years. How has been the growth of the company since then and what are those important factors that you attribute this growth to?

Our Group is one of Europe’s leading companies in the field of precious metal technology. The business of C. HAFNER initially started with recovering precious metals from secondary materials. This activity originated in the expanding jewelry and watch industry towards the end of the 19th century. The reprocessing of precious metals soon elevated its far-reaching potential to be sold in the form of semi-finished products such as wires, sheets and tubes. Step-by-step at the end of the 20th century but mostly during the last two decades the motive of the company shifted to leading through technology and Innovation. Innovation in materials, in technologies and processes.

In parallel in Switzerland, the company HILDERBRAND & Cie SA introduced in 1974 solder pastes into the watchmaking and jewelry industries. Their popularity developed soon after this introduction and C.HAFNER acquired the company in 2013. In 2021 HILDERBRAND & Cie SA became C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND SA relocating its activity at the very heart of the Swiss watch making industry in Geneva.

From precious metal brazing pastes to innovative precious metal alloys or cutting edge powder technologies, the company is now able to serve on a wide basis the local Swiss market as well as international customers.

Tell us something about your flagship products for the precious metals Industry. Also please emphasise on “Brazing & Joining Solutions” and Manufacturing Technologies?

Our core business is the manufacture of precious metal powders. For five decades we have been designing, manufacturing and distributing HILDERBRAND® brazing pastes by mixing these powders with binders/fluxes in order to offer our customers an all-in-one product for the brazing process, particularly for the watch and jewelry industry.

These brazing solders are equally suitable for the jewelry craftsman for manual torch brazing as well as for massproduced parts in the luxury goods industry for brazing in a belt furnace or by using induction technique for example. Each of our products are developed and customised according to the client's needs. So, more than a product, we develop for

our customers, integrated brazing solutions with tuned consumables. Over the past decade, our expertise in precious metal powders has led us to develop solutions for additive manufacturing too. We now offer within the Group a wide range of 18K gold alloys (yellow, pink, red, grey) and high purity PGMs for selective laser melting technologies. Our expertise does not stop at the manufacture of powders, but also includes the 3D print of highend parts for the watch making and jewelry sectors, thanks to the use of the latest laser technology in red and green lasers. By machining the parts produced by 3D printing, we master hybrid manufacturing technologies allowing the production of the most complex and precise parts.

C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND has focussed on maintaining highest quality in all its products and services. What are the parameters followed by C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND to sustain the quality in the products and services that you promote?

Our quality management system complies with all certifications of industries that we serve. We are committed to providing our customers with the highest standard and solutions. The responsibility rules defined by the Group are based on a strong sense of responsibility towards companies, society and the environment with the values of openness, appreciation, sustainability and transparency. We do think that these values are the basis of cooperation with our customers.

Tell us about the state of the art production Infrastructure of C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND and also add on the resource and technical capabilities of the team working in C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND?

Within the group, we master the various industrial techniques and processes for precious metal refining, the manufacture of traditional semi-finished products and precious metal powder technologies. These resources are complemented by our certified and accredited analytical laboratories.

As an example, our innovative positioning in the field of precious metal powders is based on no less than four atomisers allowing us to cover the most varied requirements in terms of compositions, batch sizes and specifications, including for high-temperature alloys such as PGMs. C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND benefits of course from this technological environment of the Group.

What is the current geographic expansion of C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND and what are your plans to expand in the future?

Our products are sold internationally through a dense and long-established network of distributors. We are well established throughout Europe, including Russia. We are also present in Turkey, Hong Kong, South East Asia and Japan, so Asia is an important market for us and India is of course part of it through our historical distributor N. Jewellery Techniques Pvt Ltd. in Mumbai. Finally, you can also find our precious metal powders and solder pastes in Australia, Oceana and South Africa. Geographically, our aim is to strengthen our presence in the Asian markets and to introduce ourselves to the American continent by making the decisive advantages of our products better known. We often find that testing them is the same as adopting them!

But our development strategy is also based on technological innovation and we are developing solutions around our products to meet our customers' requirements as closely as possible.

C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND has followed stringent norms to protect the environment and help maintain ecological balance. Tell us something about this and also a brief on the corporate social responsibility measures followed by the company?

Climate change is a fact and will impact the future in an unprecedented way. The Precious Metals industry must also face up to its responsibility and make its contribution. Gold has a bad name when it comes to ecology. This is because ecological assessments of mined gold are usually considered. On the other hand, recycled gold has a substantially smaller CO2 footprint by a factor of up to 2'000 when compared to extracted gold.

As a major refiner, our parent company C.HAFNER is only processing secondary gold and is committed to actively reducing CO2 through the use of state-of-the-art technology. Using only recycled gold with state-of-the-art processes like thermal energy, effective wastewater treatment and filter technologies along with preserving resources makes C.HAFNER the very first refinery with CO2-neutral refining process for gold. C.HAFNER & HILDERBRAND is part of this approach.

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