As the only company worldwide with an exclusive focus on the analysis of particle size and shape, we have been able to consistently develop and continuously extend our position – based on our RODOS dry dispersion breakthrough innovation – in now more than three decades. We succeeded with only the best professionals and technologies together with the required amount of luck. The Sympatec workforce assembles particle and application specialists with long-term experience enhanced by internationally renowned experts in the field of particle technology.
1984 | The company founders - confident after the formation at Hanover Airport
1980-88 | Engineering office PANTUC in the basement of a private Clausthal home where everything started in a haze
1984-2004 | Technology Centre Clausthal, a snowy breeding ground for the start-up as a technology-oriented venture
Since 2004 | The “Pulverhaus” – our company headquarters – highlights the evolution towards a Hidden Champion after the first 25 years
2014 | The keys are handed over to the owner of the Pulverhaus extension by the architects
Sympatec GmbH was founded in 1984 as the first spin-off of the Technical University of Clausthal. Together with strong particle knowledge, a dozen of patents, encouraged by first orders of renowned companies and a venture capitalist – the Swiss Rieter Holding AG, a group of Clausthal scientists got on its way to develop the dry dispersion method for particle sizing and stir up the international market.
Starting from a private Clausthal basement (Engineering office PANTUC | 1980 to 1988) Sympatec GmbH was established at the founding site of Machine Works Remlingen (MAREM | 1984 to 1990), which also was the first production site. General Management, Engineering Office, and customer-related departments such as Sales, After-Sales and Application Laboratory found a first professional home in the Technology Centre Clausthal (TECLA | 1984 to 2004). As a consequence of a management buyout in 1988, the innovative measuring and dispersion systems for laboratory and process applications were developed, manufactured and shipped internationally from our production site at the business park Unternehmenspark Goslar (UPG | 1991 to 2004).
Founded in Clausthal in 2004, the newly constructed Pulverhaus infrastructure embodies our pioneering spirit in a globally unique competence centre for Particle Technology. Since then, these headquarters unite strategic management and all business operations under one roof. Today, Pulverhaus is the brand home to all Sympatec instruments. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the Technical University of Clausthal, the primordial place of origin.
The Company Founders
Kurt Leschonski studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Braunschweig and received his doctorate degree at the Technical University of Karlsruhe in 1965 under Professor Hans Rumpf, the founder of Mechanical Process Engineering in Germany. Following a scientific stay at Loughborough University in England for two years, Kurt Leschonski came to the Technical University of Clausthal in 1971 via Technical University of Karlsruhe in order to establish the chair of Mechanical Process Engineering. He significantly shaped the scientific community of particle measurement technology and was one of the initiators of POWTECH exhibition and PARTEC conference, the most influential international congress worldwide in the field of particle analysis technology today. Kurt Leschonski was awarded numerous prizes from the US, Germany and Japan, the first-class Merit Cross of the Federal Republic of Germany and the honorary citizenship of the town of Clausthal-Zellerfeld. In 1984, he co-founded the Sympatec GmbH together with Stephan Röthele and the Rieter Holding AG.
As CEO and Member of the Executive Board at the Rieter Holding AG, Hans Probst was one of the visionary founding partners of Sympatec GmbH in 1984 on behalf of the venture capitalist. He stated “Who knows how to deal with fibres also knows how to deal with particles. This is good – let’s do it!”. Rieter Holding AG is an internationally active Swiss industry holding headquartered in Winterthur and leading supplier of systems for short-staple spinning mills.
Stephan Röthele received his diploma in Mechanical Process Engineering at the Karlsruhe University of Technology in 1971. Soon after the appointment as a researcher in the Special Research Project 62 of the German Research Foundation he followed his academic supervisor Professor Kurt Leschonski to the Technical University of Clausthal in 1972, entrusted with the development of the Institute of Mechanical Process Engineering as the senior engineer. At the institute his focus was on research and development of dry particle technologies. His first patent was on the invention of a differential pressure probe for isokinetic extraction. Numerous other patents, publications, speeches and presentations highlighted his increasing commitment as a developer and entrepreneur. In the beginning, the main subject were plants for dry sorting, e.g. of pumice and grit, raw materials of car shredding systems as well as recycling plants for old tire and copper cables. His special expertise became dosing, dispersing and measurement systems for particle size analysis. In 1977, Stephan Röthele established his first sole proprietorship for patent exploitation, in 1980 the PANTUC engineering office as a partnership and eventually in 1984 – together with professor Leschonski and the Rieter Holding AG – the limited liability company Sympatec GmbH. Already in 1985, he was awarded as first scientist the technology transfer prize of the Braunschweig Chamber of Industry and Commerce. In the following year he received also the first technology transfer prize of the German Federal Minister for Education and Science in Bonn. Since then he was assigned with numerous honours and awards, including the conferment of the honorary doctorate of the Technical University of Clausthal. For his merits in scientific and economic fields he was honoured with the Federal Cross of Merit in 2010. In 2017 he was awarded the Entrepreneur Prize of Region38.
The Operating Partners
Since the management-buyout in 1988, our operational management is consisting of the managing partner Stephan Röthele and three other partners.
Even as a schoolboy, Wolfgang Witt was interested in electronic and software development. He studied physics at the Technical University of Clausthal and received his doctorate degree (Dr. rer. nat.) in the field of electron diffraction under professor Ernst Bauer in 1984. Since 1976, during his time as a scientific assistant in hardware and software development, he also joined the PANTUC engineering office for digital systems in 1981. As a freelancer he supported the development of about 200 projects in automation technology including hardware and software development for particle measurement of Sympatec GmbH. Since the management-buyout by the PANTUC shareholders in 1989, he is responsible for the development and production of Sympatec and since 1993 as Technical Director with sole power of attorney. As an inventor of a number of patents for measuring, sampling and dispersing systems as well as an author of many scientific publications he is a member of various project-related committees. Since 1994 he is an appointed member of the ProcessNet section “Particle Measurement” and since 2017 Chairman of the Technical Committee “Particle Characterization” of the International Organisation of Standardization (ISO). Still today, he develops electronics for the Sympatec particle measuring systems.
After his studies of Thermal Process Engineering at the Technical University of Clausthal, Detlef Niebuhr received his doctorate degree (Dr.-Ing.) under Professor Alfons Vogelpohl in 1982. The industry demand for the newly developed characterization of droplet sizes triggered his initiative for commercial exploitation focused on the application of the emerging personal computers in the field of measurement and automation. Together with Stephan Röthele and other partners he founded the PANTUC engineering office for digital systems. In addition to his work as a scientific assistant (with the lecture “Realtime Programming” among others) he was responsible for the software development on a freelance-basis together with Wolfgang Witt. Detlef Niebuhr stayed in charge of the software development as a Sympatec employee still after the management-by-out of Sympatec by the PANTUC shareholders in 1989. In addition, he developed and temporarily managed the customer service department. With the increased digitalisation of business processes Detlef Niebuhr was committing himself to the design and support of Sympatec’s information technology systems, since 2005 responsible as Corporate IT Manager.
In 1977, Ulrich Kesten received his diploma in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering at the Technical University of Clausthal (TUC). Following, he started working as a scientific assistant to Professor Kurt Leschonski at the Institute of Mechanical Process Engineering at TUC. Together with Stephan Röthele and other partners he founded the PANTUC engineering office working part-time in addition to his academic job. In 1986, he received his doctorate degree (Dr.-Ing.) at the faculty of Mining, Metallurgy and Mechanical Engineering with a thesis on Measurements of Transport Parameters and Sampling of Disperse Solids in Hydraulic Conveying Systems. Ulrich Kesten joined Sympatec GmbH as a Sales and Application Engineer in 1986. Since 1989, he is a shareholder of Sympatec GmbH and responsible for International Sales and Business Development in pioneer markets.
After successfully completing the initial instrument portfolio for particle size distribution analysis of dry powders applying laser diffraction spectrometry based on the HELOS & RODOS system combination for the laboratory application, continuously new developments resulted in the following years. Today, as for instance, the modular product range of sensors and dispersers attracts attention amongst the scientific and professional community as technological milestones. Sympatec defined and initiated the development of instruments, that adapt to products and processes and the resulting specific requirements in the best possible way. Our systems are extensively used in laboratory settings for quality control, product and method development as well as in production environments for process control.
1985 | First Technology Transfer Award of IHK Braunschweig | Dry dispersing system RODOS
1986 | First Technology Transfer Award of Federal Minister of Education and Science | on-line particle size analysis
1992 | Arnold-Euken-Medal of GVC Düsseldorf | OPUS ultrasound extinction
2007 | „Nano im Bild“ | Award of the Nano- & Material Innovations | Niedersachsen e.V.
2008 | Selected location of the Initiative „Germany – Country of Ideas“
2010 | Kulturkontakte award of the state of Lower Saxony (DE)
2011 | Second position Foreign Trade Award of the state of Lower Saxony (DE)
2017 | First entrepreneur Award of Region 38
2019 | TOP100 Innovator
Sympatec develops, manufactures and distributes internationally a wide range of innovative systems for particle characterisation on the basis of laser diffraction, dynamic image analysis, ultrasound extinction and photon cross-correlation spectroscopy. With a strong export ratio of more than 80 percent the company established an international reach and operates subsidiaries and offices, in Germany, Europe, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, North America, India as well as agencies in additional overseas locations such as Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa or South America.
Significant industrial fields of application for our measuring systems include pharmaceutical, chemical, cement, food and drink industry, inorganic raw materials, ceramic, magnetic and metal powders, mineral raw materials and synthetic materials as well as research and development. To date more than five thousand analyses systems were sold and installed worldwide. A globally operating network of sales and after-sales service provides impeccable function of the systems and cares for the satisfaction of our customers. Continued development of our product portfolio leads to steady growth. With its regional offices and subsidiaries Sympatec counts over 150 employees, concentrating on the key responsibilities Sales and Marketing, Customer Service, Development, Manufacture and Quality Control.