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Inventor of MALIMO technology celebrates 100th birthday
Mar '09
Heinrich Mauersberger, the inventor of MALIMO stitch-bonding technology, celebrates his 100th birthday

Great inventions often stem from every-day occurrences, a gift for observation and a dogged persistence - and finally there comes that 'Eureka!' moment.

And this was also the case for Heinrich Mauersberger, the inventor of the MALIMO stitch-bonding technology. This pioneer in textile technology was 100 years old on 11 February, and a party was held in Limbach-Oberfrohna, Saxony, to celebrate this milestone and to look back at his life.

Heinrich Mauersberger was born in 1909 in Neukirchen near to the textile town of Crimmitschau. He was a dyer by trade and then became a soldier during the war. He was taken prisoner and returned in 1946, when he worked in a glove factory near Burgstädt. At the same time, this resourceful specialist in chemicals and dyeing qualified as a master weft knitter to generate extra income using a flat weft knitting machine he had built himself and leftover yarn.

In 1947, his wife gave him an idea. She was using a sewing machine to mend a piece of underwear by sewing rows of stitches up and down and across the damaged section - a process that could be used to produce textile substrates at the speed of a sewing machine.

For two years, Heinrich tried a number of different alternatives and finally produced the first, simple machine. In 1949, he finally applied for a patent for his invention, which was a process for producing substrates by sewing on top of fibrous webs and yarn sheets. On 3 February 1949, he was granted patent no. 8194 for a 'Process for producing a stitch-knitted textile'.

The invention was called MALIMO, a word made up of letters from his name and the place where he lived for many years, Limbach-Oberfrohna.

Undeterred by the scepticism of his peers towards his invention, Heinrich Mauersberger continued to work on his idea, and the first machine was soon ready for launching. A MALIMO stitch-bonding machine, type MALIWATT 2500, was unveiled for the first time at the Leipzig trade fair in spring 1957. The inventor took it on himself to present the machine and talk to customers. At that time, i.e. from 1953 to 1965, Heinrich Mauersberger was employed as an engineer at VEB Konstruktion und Entwicklung.

One successful outcome of the fair was that the company was able to conclude the first contracts to export the machine, and was subsequently also able to find an American licence holder. 'At that time, the party leadership and Council of Ministers of the German Democratic Republic were extremely impressed by the invention, and this support silenced all the critics and detractors,' said Dr. Michael Fiedler, the managing director of the Chemnitz-based KARL MAYER Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH, at the party held to celebrate the inventor's 100th birthday.

Mass-production of the MALIMO machines began in 1957 in VEB Tüllmaschinenbau Karl-Marx-Stadt, which was renamed VEB Nähwirkmaschinenbau MALIMO in 1963. The technical specifications of the first MALIMO 500 mass-produced machine were: a working width of 500 mm, a gauge of 14 F, i.e. 14 needles to every 25 mm, and a speed of 1,300 rpm. The articles produced were hand towels, dusters and polishing cloths. 'Nowadays, machines having working widths of 6,150 mm, gauges of up to 22 F and speeds of up to 2,500 rpm are available,' said Dr. Michael Fiedler.

Over the next few years, other machines based on Heinrich Mauersberger's machines appeared, including the MALIWATT, MALIVLIES and MALIPOL. Large numbers were manufactured and exported to many countries worldwide. They were mainly used to produce home and household textiles and clothing.

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