Sunnen Celebrates 90-Year Milestone

May 15, 2014

Editor’s note: The following information was provided by Sunnen Products Co. to mark the company’s 90th anniversary.

Joseph Sunnen’s entrepreneurial spirit drove him to start a “mobile” business, selling his engine servicing tools out of the back of his Hupmobile truck in 1924. Early success led him to develop and patent his manual cylinder hone for auto garages.

Decades later, his basic honing device has been evolved into a highly capable CNC machining process by the company he founded.

St. Louis, Mo.-based Sunnen Products Co. is today the world’s largest vertically integrated manufacturer of precision honing systems, employing more than 650 people at 11 worldwide facilities and holding dozens of technology patents.

“As we celebrate our 90th anniversary, my grandfather would be proud to see that his spirit of innovation lives on in our drive to develop new products and techniques,” said Matthew Sunnen Kreider, company president. “The Hupmobile is still on display at our St. Louis headquarters, and it reminds us not only of where we came from, but also what we can accomplish.”

What’s Honing All About?

Automotive, marine and air race winners learned in the 1930s that their engines got a performance boost from precisely sized and finished cylinder bores made with Sunnen hones. Today, pressure for more speed, power and accuracy-with lower noise, emissions and fewer maintenance problems-is leading manufacturers to use Sunnen honing systems for an ever-expanding range of products, in more industries than ever before.

The company’s latest generation of automated honing systems provides a capability to control hole size with accuracy of 10-millionths of an inch (0.000010″/0.25 µm), correct geometric (shape) errors in the bore, and produce a specific surface finish to enhance lubrication and sealing properties.

The result is gearboxes and transmissions that run quieter, smoother and longer. Hydraulic systems that are more precise, responsive, efficient and leak-resistant. Chainsaws and weed trimmers that deliver higher power densities with lower emissions. And firearms that are more accurate and easier to clean.

Sunnen controls all R&D, manufacturing, service and support of its products, including specialized abrasives and tooling. This allows development of end-to-end processing systems that are custom-designed and single-sourced to ensure they meet customers’ required quality and production levels.

In addition to its U.S. headquarters, Sunnen has operations in Switzerland, France, Italy, U.K., China, Russia, Brazil, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Cornelia Sunnen stands beside the improvised “house car” in which she and her young husband traveled through the Midwest in 1924 to launch Sunnen Products Co. Note the motor block strapped to the running board, used by Joseph Sunnen to demonstrate his invention-the adjustable valve lifter-to garage mechanics.