Margarete Steiff GmbH is the leading manufacturer of high-quality toys and collectors' items. With its main production facility located in the German town of Giengen/Brenz, Steiff produces over 1.5 million Steiff animals every year. Today, Steiff continues to produce quality work primarily oriented to the handicraft tradition, with the number of operations required to produce each Steiff animal averaging at more than 30.
The First Steiff Bear
The first plush animal was invented when the Steiff bear was born back in 1902. The first Steiff bear was given the designation "55PB" (55 cm tall, sitting, P = plush, B = jointed; "beweglich" in German). Mohair plush, a new material, was used for the first time to make this unusual new product. To distinguish Steiff articles from imitation products, every Steiff animal leaving the factory had a "Button in Ear", which has become a world-famous trademark.
Steiff Animal Design & Production
The production process for a Steiff animal consists of more than 30 operations on average and most of these are performed by hand in the traditional manner. Market requirements and design aspects are taken into consideration in the ideas for new Steiff animals. Once the basic specifications are clarified, designers start to exploit their imagination and creativity to produce drawings of the animal from all sides. Research as well as studies are conducted to ensure that the design is both realistic and natural.
These designers determine how the animal is to be manufactured, where the seams are to be and what materials are to be used - mohair, long or short-pile, cotton, etc. They supervise every stage in the production process, from sewing, stuffing, decorative stitching to painting. The prototypes are then examined thoroughly by an in-house committee for approval.
Manufacturing & Quality Assurance
Manufacturing process involves cutting out, dyeing, sewing, filling, fitting joints, decorative stitching, painting. Steiff uses synthetic wadding or foam cuttings as filling materials, that are machine washable, hygienic and dimensionally stable. Certain product safety measures are an integral part of the manufacturing process. For instance, each eye of a soft-filled Steiff animal must be capable of withstanding about 9 kg of tensile load.
A Steiff animal must successfully complete the final inspection before being given its "Button in Ear". Continuous in-process inspections are performed throughout many of the production stages.
The Steiff company's attitude and actions are colored by Margarete Steiff's motto - Only the best is good enough for children! To date, Steiff ranks among the brand names that really live, always oriented to the spirit of the time, without sacrificing its tradition or values.
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