23 Jun 2022

Prétat – Valuable know-how for shaping pruning shear handles

They form the core of a pruning shear. As light as they are strong, the aluminium handles of FELCO tools have built the brand's reputation for strength and durability. These handles were created in the Swiss Jura region, in the heart of the fields of Cornol, not far from the capital of the Jura, Delémont. The company Prétat SA, specialises in the forging of metals. A technique that allows a piece of hot metal to be pressed into a two-part mould to produce an object with complex shapes.

Specific technique

"This technique allows objects to be shaped by improving their mechanical properties and their resistance to wear and tear. It is particularly well suited to the manufacture of handles for cutting tools. In fact, we can guarantee them for life," explains Clément Saucy, Managing Director of Prétat SA. Founded 75 years ago, the Jura-based company specialises in the forging of non-ferrous metals. In addition to aluminium, it also works with copper, brass, magnesium and titanium.

Integrated into the Flisch Group

The company has been manufacturing aluminium handles for FELCO tools for decades. It was chosen as a main subcontractor because of the high quality of its products. The collaboration was strengthened until finally the company was taken over by FELCO. Prétat SA has been part of the Flisch Group since 1998. "This is the result of the desire to verticalise the production of our tools as much as possible", explains Nabil Francis, CEO of FELCO SA.

Strategic location

The location of Prétat SA is particularly strategic for the world leader in pruning shears, as Clément Saucy points out. "Our main supplier of raw materials is located in Laufon, which is in the countryside of the canton of Basel. And our main customer FELCO is based in Geneveys-sur-Coffrane. We are therefore located almost in the middle."

Short circuits

"This is in line with our wish to favour short supply channels. This proved to be very important during the recent pandemic. Unlike our competitors, who source from Asia, we have never had any problems with the supply of components and have never stopped production. We have always been able to deliver to our customers," says Nabil Francis.

Although FELCO is Prétat SA's main customer in terms of volume, the Jura-based company also works for other industries, such as the medical equipment industry, aeronautics, robotics and leisure equipment. Certain products are also specific to niche markets, which are valuable in highlighting the company's specialised skills.

Two-piece moulds are used for hot-pressing aluminium.

The bars of material that will be cut into slugs.                                                         

The bars are sheared to the correct length and preformed.

The slugs are heated to a high temperature in order to be forged.

The heated billet is placed in the mould. The powerful press forms the final part.

The forged parts still need to be trimmed.                                                             

The handles are ready to be sent to FELCO for finishing.

The circular economy by example

“Nothing is lost, everything is transformed”. The motto is also true for Prétat SA, which respects the principle of sustainable development and the circular economy by using nearly 50% recycled aluminium in its production. Moreover, the scraps and waste from the forging of the handles are sent back to the aluminium foundry and will end up as metal bars that will go back to Prétat for further forging.

Photo Credit : Tripack