From the idea to the sex toy
FunFactory undoubtedly rank among the pioneers in the adult industry. They have earned a reputation as innovators with a dedication to quality – characteristics that have been reflected in their toys ever since the company was started. This year, FunFactory will celebrate their 20th anniversary, but the pioneering spirit that marked the early days is still very much alive – as we could see for ourselves during our visit at the headquarters of the sex toy producer.
If Michael Pahl were to look out of his window, he’d have a great view of the Weser river. He could see ships passing through his hometown of Bremen on their way to the North Sea. Or he could just gaze into the distance and let his mind wander. But instead, Michael Pahl’s eyes are fixed on a collection of processors and circuit boards.
“There’s always something that can be improved,“ the electrical engineer explains. Twenty years ago, he and his friend Dirk Bauer started FunFactory. And although it’s been such a long time, Michael has never lost his passion for tinkering – a passion that played a great part in making the company what it is today. Improving the controls, adding the “click and charge” system, reducing the noise level of the motors. At first glance, those things seem like small details, but the sum of these details can make a good product great and ultimately influence the entire industry.
The motors used in FunFactory vibrators today are Pahl’s creation. The company and the customers had already been happy with the previous models, but Michael’s keen eye saw that there was room for improvement. The result: a motor that offers the same strong sensations, but at much lower noise levels. Later, these motors were also used in sex toys from other companies. “Unfortunately, you can’t have something like that patented. But if people copy what you’ve created, it kind of shows you that you’ve something right,” he adds.
Fun Factory celebrates it’s 20th anniversary this year
The willingness to experiment and try new things off the beaten path – those are two of the pillars the company was founded on two decades ago. Back then, the founders cast their first dildo in their kitchen and hardened it in a regular oven. Dolly Dolphin, as the toy was named, was made entirely of silicone, and it was regarded as a true innovation in the mid-Nineties. The playful design of the toy probably also played a part in its huge success.
FunFactory has long since left private kitchens behind.
Today, the Bremen-based company employs more than 120 people, and every week, roughly 10,000 vibrators, dildos, and other toy are shipped to destinations all over the world – sometimes even more at peak times. But the production environment and the technology are not the only things that have evolved – the design of the toys has also undergone tremendous changes.
The look for the next generation of FunFactory toys is already taking shape on the drawing board of Alina Eynck. There are no specifications or stipulations to rein back her creativity, and so she churns out design after design, with pencil or ink, sometimes up to one hundred for a product – until she feels she is onto something special. Once the team has agreed on one of her designs, it is then polished and refined on the computer, and at the end of this phase, Alina presents a 3D model of the toy to the FunFactory decision makers. “Only once have I got a product perfectly right with the first draft,” she explains. “Usually, there is a process.”
A look inside the factory
The Bremen-based company has high standards when it comes to the design of products. From the first Dolly Dolphin to their vibrator Patchy Paul – a five-metre tall model of which was displayed by the Weser riverbank at some point – to their new toys like Miss Bi or Moody, they all boast playful shapes. And they have another thing in common. Not only were they designed in the company’s headquarters, they were also produced there.
There are several big tanks in the basement of the building, containing the silicone for all the toys, and from here, it is pumped up to the production floor where Vadim Belov works. He is the master of colours who turns the colourless silicone into bright pink or black or more subdued caramel tones. But before these colours radiate from the shelves of stores all over the world, there is still a long way to go.
Around Belov, machines as tall as him rattle on ceaselessly. Behind acrylic glass windows, casting moulds rotate at a leisurely pace until, at the end of the cycle, accompanied by a whizz and a plop, they birth another vibrator shell. But not all steps of production can be automated. Later, the motors and control elements will be inserted and fused by hand.
Dildos and buttplugs are also cast by hand – a process that requires finesse and experience. If there are air bubbles or other blemishes, the product wouldn’t make it past quality control. Right now, about fifty filled moulding casts are waiting to be “pulled”. Michael Stauber is the right man for the job, having both, the necessary muscle strength and the necessary skill.
With practised movements, he reaches into the mould, then he flexes his muscles and seconds later, he places another “The Boss” dildo on the table. “A machine couldn’t do that,” he comments before turning to the next toy. An experienced worker like Michael can pull several hundred casts per shift.
The last steps before a vibrator sees the world
So now the motors have been placed inside the vibrators, and the dildos have been pulled from their moulds. But there is still one last step before they are shipped to trade members across the globe: the quality check, conducted by Jürgen Stahlhut. He has been with FunFactory almost from the beginning, and there are few people who know more about the company than he does.
Whenever there is a problem during the production process, he is there to lend a helping hand and a wry comment. Today, he is accompanied by Jessica Kreugel who is doing an internship as part of her studies at the university of Bremen. The two take a close look at the toys. Sometimes, minor flaws can still be ironed out, but if a product doesn’t live up to Jürgen’s standards, it is rejected and its journey ends in the box for substandard products.
Dirk Bauer also has a great view of the Weser river from his office, which is the nodal point where all the threads come together. The CEO of FunFactory can look back at twenty successful years during which his company has become one of the biggest producers in Europe. And it has done its fair share of setting industry standards as well. The first toy made from medical-grade silicone, rechargeable vibrators, the first mainstream award for a sex toy – those are just a few milestones in the history of FunFactory, and many more are bound to follow as the whole team is dedicated to take sex toys to the next level.