Focus on design and development
1950-1969: Atlas Diesel becomes Atlas Copco
Atlas Diesel was now totally oriented towards compressed air, and the journey toward worldwide leadership in this area began. In 1956, this was manifested by changing the company's name to Atlas Copco. "Copco" stands for Compagnie Pneumatique Commerciale, from a Belgian subsidiary.
In the same year, the Belgian compressor company Arpic Engineering NV was acquired. Production capacity at Arpic was greatly expanded during the 1960s, making it one of the world´s largest manufacturers of portable compressors.
In the early 1950s Atlas Copco underwent a radical development of compressor technology. It was not only a matter of developing and improving existing technology in close collaboration with customers, but also taking giant steps towards a completely new technology.
The new General Manager, Kurt-Allan Belfrage, once again focused on research and development, as well as major modernization and expansion plans for the production plants.
The screw compressor was an important innovation, developed by Patrik Danielsson and Alf Lysholm in 1955. In 1958, Iwan Åkerman developed the oil-free air screw compressor, and in 1967, Ivar Trulsson designed the successful ZR type oil-free, electrically driven, stationary compressor.
In 1967, Atlas Copco presented a portable screw compressor that produced oil-free compressed air, meaning that no oil was injected into the compression chamber. This innovation became the foundation for the development of a series of stationary, electrically–driven compressors. These units were almost totally vibration free and could therefore be installed inexpensively on the customer´s site. With oil-free compressed air, Atlas Copco further broadened its market by focusing on the textile, food, and pharmaceutical industries.
Compressors were rapidly developed and mechanization was brought in to the mining and construction side. Efforts were also made to develop and expand the range of hand-held tools for the manufacturing industry. In the 1960s, close collaboration with medical experts led to a considerably improved ergonomical design of Atlas Copco machines. These investments in research and development paid a rich dividend in terms of commercial success.
With the rapid expansion of business, Atlas Copco became more complex to manage. In 1968, a major organizational change, the divisionalization of the Group, was carried out. The Group was divided into three business areas: Mining and Construction Technique, Airpower, and Tools, all with a common sales organization. Once this new organization was in place, Kurt-Allan Belfrage, now 60 years old, retired and was replaced as General Manager by Erik Johnsson. It was Erik Johnsson who instigated the idea of offering a complete method rather than selling an isolated product.