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125 years surgical innovation

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11.08.2021 | Press release

We celebrate 125 years of surgical innovation

In 1896, Ludwig Leibinger, a trained watchmaker in Mühlheim an der Donau, Germany, laid the foundation for the KLS Martin Group - one of today's global market leaders in medical technology with over 1,700 employees worldwide and group sales of 288 million euros in 2020. 

The year is 1896: Carl Benz produces the first gasoline-powered truck, which still looks like a carriage, and X-ray technology finds its way into everyday clinical practice. These events set the scene for Ludwig Leibinger. Although he is a trained watchmaker, he decides to enter what he sees as a more promising trade that requires at least as much precision and attention to detail - the manufacture of surgical instruments. Thus, in 1896, he founded the company Karl Leibinger Medizintechnik, which still exists today. 

In order to expand the product portfolio and thus hold its own against larger competitors, Karl Leibinger Medizintechnik joined forces with six other medical technology companies in Tuttlingen in 1923 and founded a joint sales and trading company. Today, the group of companies offers more than 16,000 surgical instruments, implant systems for craniomaxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery and hand surgery, as well as electrosurgical units, surgical laser systems, operating lights, medical supply units and individual room solutions for various clinical environments, such as operating rooms or intensive care units.

True to its motto "surgical innovation is our passion," KLS Martin is considered a pioneer and innovator in several areas. In 1922, the company manufactures one of the first electrosurgery units.  In 1975, it is the first to manufacture steel miniplates for craniomaxillofacial surgery. In 1993, KLS Martin introduces the first surgical laser systems for non-contact tissue cutting, ablation and hemostasis. In 2002, the world's first sterilization container, which requires no consumables, follows. In 2005, the portfolio is expanded to include solutions for vessel sealing, which allows vessels to be cut and sealed in a single step and without ligation. In 2006, the company adapts a technology from wood processing to fuse resorbable plastics with bone and remains the only company allowed to use this technology. In 2014, patient-specific implants for craniomaxillofacial surgery in additive manufacturing followed, which have been accompanied by a digital workflow since 2016. This allows surgeons to plan their cases virtually on a 3D skull model of the patient. Based on this, engineers from the KLS Martin Group then create an individual implant, which is later manufactured by additive manufacturing and shipped to the surgeon - all in-house.

Alongside these innovations and changes, however, there has been one constant for the KLS Martin Group over the past 125 years - the Leibinger family. Today, the group of companies is led by the 4th and 5th generations by Karl and Christian Leibinger as Presidents and CEOs. Since May 2020, all group companies have been fully owned by the family.

"We are very pleased to be able to celebrate our 125th anniversary this year and to continue the company's history. Although looking back at the past is nice and it makes me proud of where we came from, our focus is on today and the future. I am happy about where we are today as a company and that we have been able to retain our Swabian tinkering, diligence, tradition and innovative strength, but also our curiosity and team cohesion despite our growth. We want to preserve these values in the next 125 years and continue to advance patient care through surgical innovations," says Christian Leibinger.

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