Feather-light composites - Exel Composites Story

WORLD-ACCLAIMED ski pole manufacturer Exel Composites specializes in industrial composite solutions.
Composites are light, durable, fibre reinforced plastics with many superior characteristics and advantages compared with traditional materials.

In 1960, three chemists, Yrjö Aho, Aarre Hollning and Veli-Jussi Hölsö, started a company in Helsinki to manufacture electronic detonator caps. The company, which derives its name from the words Explosive Electronics, has grown into a global player but its heart still lies in Finland. Yrjö Aho loved shooting sports, which inspired him to develop hearing protectors. Sold under the Silenta brand, their success made it possible to develop new products, and Exel proceeded quickly toward composites.

Yrjö Aho, one of the founders of Exel Composites

The company started ski pole production in 1973, and the real breakthrough came at the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck.
The lightweight poles with an entirely new design gave skiers such a boost that 70% of the medals were won using Exel
carbon fibre poles. The company’s ski pole sales sky-rocketed to 1.5 million pairs per year, capturing half of the world market.
Other sports equipment triumphed in the wake of the ski poles. Exel was the dominant market leader for windsurfing masts in the 1980s. Ice hockey and floorball sticks and pesäpallo (Finnish baseball) bats have also been popular. Exel also invented the new sport of Nordic walking as well as the necessary equipment in 1997. However, in the late 2000s, Exel dropped sports equipment to concentrate entirely on industrial composites.

The composite technology developed by Exel makes it possible to produce durable, lightweight structural profiles and tubes, as well as various laminates. For example, Exel has a significant impact in the transportation sector as its lightweight composites in various vehicle components help to keep fuel expenses and emissions at a moderate level.

Energy efficiency is one of the main themes in Exel’s product portfolio, which is expanding and developing continuously in co-operation with customers. Compared with traditional materials, composites offer significant advantages, from extreme durability to corrosion and fire resistance. Composites are always more than the sum of their parts: precisely the desired outcome can be achieved by combining the right resins and fibres. In addition to enabling innovations, composites can be used to improve the characteristics of existing products.

From the beginning, Exel has actively pursued opportunities abroad – in 1976, it was granted the Presidential Export Award. The company’s versatile products and ability to reinvent itself have carried Exel into new markets. Its clientele has expanded significantly due to its customer-orientation and products that are precisely tailored for customer needs and intended uses. In the 2000s, Exel has also grown through international corporate acquisitions.

Facing challenges with boldness and meeting the high demands of its customers have helped make Exel Composites a global forerunner in composite technology. The Finnish innovations that were born from the experiments of Yrjö Aho’s team are reshaping the world with almost limitless possibilities.

Exel Composites Oyj, Vantaa head office, Mäkituvantie 5, FI-01510 Vantaa, Finland