03.11.2022 by Aileen Sammler

60 Years of NETZSCH-Gerätebau: Fire Testing and Thermal Conductivity Made in Weimar

The merger of TAURUS Instruments AG in Weimar, Germany and NETZSCH Analyzing & Testing in 2020 resulted in the NETZSCH TAURUS Instruments GmbH of today. The Analyzing & Testing Business Unit thus expanded its product range to include not only Conductivité ThermiqueThermal conductivity (λ with the unit W/(m•K)) describes the transport of energy – in the form of heat – through a body of mass as the result of a temperature gradient (see fig. 1). According to the second law of thermodynamics, heat always flows in the direction of the lower temperature.thermal conductivity and thermal transmittance testing, but also a comprehensive product portfolio for fire testing. In this month of November during our year-long 60th anniversary celebration, our focus will be on fire testing instruments and the history of NETZSCH TAURUS Instruments. 

History of TAURUS

Whoever may have thought that TAURUS in Weimar has always been involved in thermal conductivity and fire testing would be seriously mistaken. ;-)  

At the end of the 1980s, Stephan Heise and Steffen Zimmermann were employed at the Deutschen Bauakademie (German Building Academy), Institute for Building Materials in Weimar in the electrical engineering department, where they had already been working on the topic of thermal conductivity for a long time. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the electrical engineering department at the institute was dissolved. Thereupon, the two gentlemen forged a new plan to implement the existing know-how about thermocouples in a new independent venture.

On July 3, 1990, “Taurus Daten- und Messtechnik GmbH” was founded by Mr. Heise and Mr. Zimmermann in cooperation with ALLTEX Trade & Engineering GmbH, a trading company based in Frankfurt with which both gentlemen had already collaborated during their time at the Bauakademie (Building Academy). ALLTEX took charge of distribution for the newly founded company.


Figure: One of the first flyers of Taurus Daten- und Messtechnik GmbH

Since at that time virtually no market for thermal conductivity and measuring technology existed, the newly founded company was mainly concerned with the sales, installation and servicing of telephone and computer systems in the early years. Thanks to ALLTEX’s solid network, many new customers were acquired and computer technology was exported to different countries already from the company’s very beginnings.

Photo: TAURUS advertisement in the newspaper (´90s)

TAURUS – The Powerful Bull

By the way, the fantasy-based name “TAURUS” originated one evening at a discussion with the regulars in Weimar. Stephan Heise connected “Taurus” with a powerful bull – a great conceptual fit with the intentions of the new enterprise. There are also beautiful mountains in Turkey with the same name. With the addition of “Daten- und Messtechnik” (“Data and Measuring Technology”), the process of finding a name was quickly completed.

In 1993, the company – consisting of six employees at the time – began receiving its first enquiries about instruments for the determination of thermal conductivity. Existing technical knowledge was used to build new electronics to convert electrical instruments of all kinds or to retrofit electronics.

After having initially rented space at the Material-, Forschungs- und Prüfanstalt (Material, Research and Testing Institute) in Weimar on Amalien Street, Taurus’ groundbreaking ceremony for a measurement equipment plant of their own at the current location in Industriepark Nord (Industrial Park North) in Weimar took place in 1994. In the meantime, the company had grown to 12 employees.


Photo: Excerpt from the newspaper in October 1994: The move to the Industrial Park North, in Weimar

Handheld Measuring Systems for Human Diagnostics, Food and Hygiene Testing and for Bioanalytics

Photo: Computer-aided particle analyzer HAVER-CPA 03 for the analysis of grain sizes and grain shapes in the millimeter range within seconds.

In addition to thermal insulation value and data acquisition systems as well as optical particle analyzers, the TAURUS product range also includes handheld measuring systems for human and veterinary diagnostics, for food and hygiene testing and for bioanalytics. 

Particle analysis in particular was of great importance in the early years. Together with the sales partner Haver & Boecker, a machine manufacturer from Oelde, a computer-aided photo-optical analyzer built by TAURUS was presented for the first time at the ACHEMA trade fair in Frankfurt in 1995.

In 1997, TAURUS even was awarded the Thuringian Innovation Prize for the hand-held “BioScan®” measuring device. The objective of the measuring system was to evaluate so-called “tracer tests”, which were used for such applications as testing the hemoglobin value in the blood or carrying out AIDS tests.

Through consistent research and development toward innovative products, it was possible to create new instruments for research institutes and the building materials industry. This made TAURUS Daten- und Messtechnik GmbH to a leading supplier of products and systems for physical, building physics and bioanalytical measurement tasks.

Photo: Bioscan fluorescence/luminescence detector

In-House Development and Instrumentation Also in the Field of Fire Testing

The Laue Testing Center of the MFPA Leipzig (Gesellschaft für Materialforschung und Prüfungsanstalt für das Bauwesen Leipzig mbH) was the first customer to purchase the data acquisition system for the recording of temperature for fires in buildings. In December 1995, a large-scale fire test took place, in which TAURUS masterfully recorded all data under real fire conditions.


Photos: Large-scale fire test of the MFPA Leipzig – documented in the TAURUS chronicle

First Instrument Series for Thermal Conductivity

In 1997, TAURUS started to build its own thermal conductivity instruments. With the launch of the TLP 900 in June 1997, one of the first instrument series for thermal conductivity analyses on materials, building materials and insulation materials arrived on the market.

Photo: TLP 900 – today called the GHP product series

In 2001, the company expanded its product portfolio to include fire testing instruments. The Single Burning Item (SBI) was the first TAURUS fire tester developed in-house. It serves for the determination of fire behavior in building products and the classification into European fire classes in accordance with the EN 13823 standard. The SBI was first used by the Materialprüfanstalt in Hanover. To this day, it is a product that has sold steadily over the years.

This was followed the same year by the first Small Burner Box (KBK) and the first Horizontal Burner Box (HBK), both testing devices for the flammability of products and for the determination of the fire behavior of materials when exposed to direct flames. All devices were already standardized at that time.

Photo: Horizontal burner box HBK 919 for determining the reaction to fire of materials used for vehicle interiors

In the following years, TAURUS developed further new fire testing devices. After the company reached its capacity limits in terms of production, a new production hall was built in the Industrial Park North in 2013.

Read about the merger of NETZSCH and TAURUS next week. We will also unveil why the demand for fire tests, especially in the automotive sector but also in the building materials, cable and plastics industries, has sharply increased worldwide in recent years. Stay tuned!