Guenther-Vetter
The invention of the vacuum bag

The interview with Günther Vetter about the origin of vacuum technology

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THE Interview:
THE Invention of the Vacuum Bag

Ruth Koppenberger:
Hello. It is wonderful that you're here. I am very pleased that you want to share the story with us and I would like to ask you to wallow in memories and tell us how it all started back then. With the ancestors, with my ancestors, with our ancestors.
I remember that grandpa, your father, had the carpentry shop in Kirchdorf. And your grandfather, your mother's father, had a carpentry shop in Pressburg – even a relatively large one, as far as I know - before the war.

Günther Vetter:
Yes, that's right. And what I sometimes noticed from my parents was that they had a very well run carpentry shop. My grandfather ran the carpentry shop and my father was empolyed there. My father was a master carpenter and my mother worked there in accounting and in calculation. And the two met and got married. And then three children arised from that marriage, three children were born.
And then the war came and my parents had to flee and leave everything behind. The entire facilities, the carpentry, the apartment and everything. And so they fled for a long time sometimes by foot and often only with their hand luggage, because they couldn't take more with them, via Linz to Kirchdorf and built a new life there. They bought a property and built a little house, a single family home with a carpentry shop in the basement and on the first floor, I mean in the ground floor.
And there I learned carpentry. I was born in Austria and did my apprenticeship as a carpenter as well as the journeyman's examination at my father’s carpentry shop, and then I went to Hallstatt to the master school and there I did a lot of technical drawings, architecture and interior design and so on, in addition to carpentry training and passed the master craftsman's examination.
And then I came back I took over the carpentry business from my father and I had already transformed many of my creative visions into a reality back then. My ideas and my creativity were of course not paid extra.
That was the selling point, so to speak, why they came to me and, for example, had me design the interior of their bedroom or design the interior of their coffee shop. That's how I developed a certain name for myself, of course. And then people came to me with special requests. And this design work has expanded more and more, so that I have given up carpentry and literally have only been a designer. Anyways, and over time this design work has moved more and more towards invention. New ideas have always been very important to me. Not just designing the surface, but also redeveloping the function.
And then it went more and more in the direction of of carpentry facilities and auxiliary equipment. Yes, sometimes machines as well. And that's how the new company developed, the company Columbus, and this company then sold these inventions, which were very often patented, and the patents as well.
And above all – because I was out there a lot with the carpenters – I kept getting ideas from the carpenters, about problems which I then tried to solve with new inventions.
And that's how the vacuum bag was invented. There was always a problem when producing curved parts an covering them and so on. That was very complex with a template and counter template.
And with the vacuum bag there was no need for a counter template an one could produce and cover these curved parts without much effort. And from that came the Vacuflex, a vacuum press, which was no longer a bag, but had a work surface with a folding frame.
In that folding frame an elastic cloth was clamped and so of course the operation was much more comfortable and much more accurate. One could place the respective product on the work surface and close the folding frame and then press what needs to be pressed with a vacuum. Then of course the next step came, the warming up, the heating. Partly from above, to reduce the pressing time, or we have constructed our own heating drawer, for under the machine, to slide in, where one then preheated the various materials and could then deform them when they were warm. Then, of course, a suitable silicone membrane was needed so that the membrane does not melt and the temperature can be withstood.
And so it developed step by step. Of course, the main memory I have of it is driving from carpenter to carpenter.
That was impressive because that was obviously most of the time. The invention does not take the most time, selling takes most of the time. Then you have something that you are convinced of, but then you have to sell it. So you have to go to the customers and convince them. Then I went to the fairs, many fairs. It was very interesting. And so it continued to develop. Exactly. That was the vacuum press story.
Now it's “Columbus”, thanks to your initiative and thanks to your commitment, with which you have continued. Now I can look at it with pride and say, “great”, it turned out well and it has continued.

Ruth Koppenberger:
Thank you, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing your memories. It was really wonderful.

Günther Vetter:
With pleasure. Thank you.
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