THE HISTORY OF THE ANGELANTONI GROUP
In the spring of 1932 Giuseppe Angelantoni began in Milan the long journey of his career in cold technology. He probably did not imagine then that almost 90 years later his name would become an expression of world leadership in cold engineering and simulated environmental testing.
The history of the Angelantoni Group is first and foremost the story of a company that was started and developed as a family business by the founder Giuseppe Angelantoni, who moved to Milan from Massa Martana, in the Region of Umbria, the Province of Perugia, and founded a refrigerator factory in 1932.
The first exclusive designs and related patents date back to the period immediately following World War II, such as the first two-stage refrigeration compressor in 1949, and then surpassing the ‑100°C threshold with traditional compressors in the 1961. These were followed by a gradual crescendo of innovative designs in the fields of simulated environmental tests and life sciences. In the meantime, the company moved to Angelantoni’s hometown, developed in various fields of activity and expanded abroad, becoming the Group that operates today on the international market with diversified companies, foreign subsidiaries and representatives in every country in the world.
- Founding of the Angelantoni company in Milan
Giuseppe Angelantoni founds the Frigoriferi Angelantoni company in Milan, initially a small repair company for the first cold appliances. “Rather than a real company, the ‘plant,’ if we really want to call it that, consisted of his motorcycle and the tools he always carried with him,” says Gianluigi Angelantoni, current Group CEO.
- Creation of the first simulated environmental test chamber
The first climatic chamber, combining cold with heat and humidity control, is sold to the Rome Department of Motor Vehicles for testing automobile license plates. That first machine began the development of what would become the strategic activity for the international expansion of the Angelantoni Group, thanks to the wide range of products and the innovative and customized designs created under the ACS brand for all industrial sectors, and especially in the aerospace and automotive industries.
- Creation of the first -104°C freezer
In 1961 the first device in Europe that could go below ‑100°C with traditional compressors was presented at the Milan Fair. It was a three-stage freezer that could reach ‑104°C, designed for the preserving of biological material. It was also the subject of an interesting presentation at the International Cold Congress in Padua in 1962.
- Angelantoni Centro Sud established in Massa Martana
Angelantoni Centro Sud, together with Frigoriferi Angelantoni in Milan, produced simulated environmental test chambers (ACS), refrigeration equipment such as freezers and blood bank refrigerators for hospitals and universities (AS) and installed large “turnkey” prefabricated or built-in cold rooms (AG), dealing directly with the central/southern Italy market. In 1977 it changed its name to Angelantoni Climatic Systems, keeping the acronym ACS and focusing production on environmental simulation chambers previously done in Milan.
- Angelantoni Scientifica established in Massa Martana
On the strength of ACS’s successful move from Milan to Massa Martana, the biomedical sector also followed this route. Today AS is a brand of Angelantoni Life Science (ALS), a leading international company in the supply of refrigeration equipment and the designing of technological solutions for the biomedical field, with a constant commitment to innovation and biological and environmental safety.
- Designing and manufacture of the first space simulator
Following the success of the first thermal vacuum chamber in 1988, with the ACS brand Angelantoni gained a strong leadership position in the aerospace industry, developing a wide range of thermal vacuum chambers and specializing in the development of customized designs for the most important international space research centers for testing satellites, subsystems and components.
- Angelantoni Mechanical Equipment established in China
AMEC becomes the Angelantoni Group’s first wholly foreign-owned (WFOE) Chinese company, based in Beijing, dedicated to local production and increasing the penetration of the ACS brand in the market, where it had already been present since the 1980s through effective representation in this territory (Liaison Office).
- Establishment of Sistec, later Kenosistec
Strengthened by the experience gained in high vacuum technologies, Angelantoni used this technological expertise not for testing satellites and their components, but for applying high vacuum techniques in industrial deposition processes, the thin film technology coating systems (PVD and PEVD). Sistec was established in Massa Martana, and later became Kenosistec with the incorporation of the Kenotec company of Binasco (Milan).
- Acquisition of BIA in France
Angelantoni expands its product offering in the testing sector with the acquisition of BIA, a leading company on the French market, introducing test benches, crash test systems and special climatic chambers for the automotive industry.
- Acquisition of TIRA in Germany
Angelantoni aims at becoming a “Test Solutions Provider.” Thus the acquisition of BIA is followed by that of TIRA, a historic German company and leader in the production of electrodynamic vibration systems. With this acquisition, ACS expands its product offering in the testing sector, introducing a wide range of vibration systems, which can often be combined with simulated environmental test chambers.
- Establishment of Archimede Solar Energy (ASE)
Using Kenosistec’s technological knowledge of high vacuum coating, the Angelantoni Group begins construction of the plant for the production of solar receiver tubes for thermodynamic power plants with linear parabolic collectors, based on the molten salt technology invented by Carlo Rubbia. The receivers developed and produced by ASE, with the contribution of ENEA, can operate at high temperatures (up to 580°C) with all types of heat transfer fluids used for large thermodynamic solar power plants.
- New Angelantoni Group organization: ATT – ALS – ACT – ASE
The Angelantoni Industrie Group is made up of:
Angelantoni Test Technologies (ATT), with the subsidiaries BIA and TIRA.
Angelantoni Life Science (ALS)
Angelantoni CleanTech (ACT)
Archimede Solar Energy (ASE)
and operates in the fields of biomedical equipment, environmental test systems and renewable energy, particularly in the field of thermodynamic solar energy and energy efficiency.
- Sale of BIA; ATT subsidiaries in Germany and India
- ATT decides to refocus entirely on the design and production of environmental simulation chambers and sells BIA and TIRA, buying back 32% of the shares held by the Italian Investment Fund, which entered ATT in 2012
- ATT invests in sales & service subsidiaries in Germany (ATT Umweltsimulation) and India (ATT India)
- ATT sales & service subsidiary in China (ATT ASIA PACIFIC)
As a further strategic development of the ATT group’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the subsidiary ATT ASIA PACIFIC is established in Beijing, with two main objectives:
- Providing sales, installation and technical service in China for wholly imported ACS products
- Supporting the sales network in Korea, Taiwan, ASEAN countries and Australia for ACS products
- ATT subsidiary in France and creation of Turboalgor
- The ATT sales & service subsidiary is established in France (ATT France)
- The Italian startup company TurboAlgor goes into business, patenting a highly innovative technology derived from the automotive industry and offering optimization solutions for refrigeration systems aimed at achieving significant energy savings
What were your moments of greatest satisfaction?
“Probably the Padua Fair in 1950, where we first presented refrigerator trucks in Italy. It was a huge success. Or in Milan in 1961, when we presented the first refrigeration equipment in Europe that went below -100°C (-104°C) using traditional compressors.”
And the first relations with foreign countries?
“With Palestine, almost immediately, even before it became Israel. Then with Turkey with the “Frigomec,” a patent of mine for modular refrigeration units.”
How did you get the idea of making climatic chambers?
“I saw a similar machine installed in Terni, made from wood. It reproduced various climatic conditions. It certainly wasn’t as precise as it is now. The instrumentation was approximate, and so were the requirements. The first climatic chamber was sold to a public institution, at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Rome. It had to test car license plates. This was in the early 1950s.”
And vacuum technology? Such a modern concept…
“We worked together with another Milanese company on the making of freeze drying plants, which require cold and a vacuum. It was an important step, also because we had much greater expertise in cold technology, and it represented a moment of expansion. We then built many vacuum chambers, arriving at the high vacuum of space simulators in 1988."
He scoffs and refers to his 88 years, but he does so just to be conventional. In reality, he expresses his wish to see his company continue to grow and prosper, and his lively eyes betray his enthusiasm and desire to be active.
“I take it easy – now everything is in the hands of my children.”
Our conversation took place in the garden at his house: a 17th-century convent near Massa Martana. Two years later Giuseppe Angelantoni passed away, and in the same year his beloved son Oreste, CEO of the then Angelantoni Scientifica, also died.
Sustainability is a fundamental part of the corporate culture and an instrument for continuous improvement, in order to build a future that does not alter the planet’s resources and does not exploit it beyond its possibilities.