For over 90 years, the name Otto Bock has stood for innovation and entrepreneurial success. With a pioneer spirit, courage and well-developed decision-making skills, Otto Bock founded the Orthopädische Industrie GmbH in 1919 in Berlin.
Older photo of Ottobock in Königsee

Tradition and progress

In the year 1919, the prosthetist Otto Bock began a singular success story: In Berlin, he founded a company to supply thousands of war veterans with prostheses and orthopedic products. However, the scope of the demand could not be met with traditional artisan methods. Otto Bock therefore developed the idea of manufacturing prosthetic components in series production and to deliver these directly to the orthopedic mechanics on site. This was the cornerstone for the orthopedic industry. Soon after its founding, the young company moved to Königsee in Thuringia, home of Otto Bock. From the very beginning, Otto Bock continually tested new materials for their applicability in manufacturing processes. This made him a forerunner in the use of aluminum parts, which he was applying to prosthetics as early as the 1930s. His steadily growing business would later employ a staff of 600.

Three years after the Second World War, the company suffered a severe blow: The entire private assets of the family and the factory in Königsee were expropriated without compensation. The difficult new beginning in post-war Germany was launched in the Lower-Saxon town of Duderstadt. Here, Otto Bock’s son-in-law, Dr.-Ing. E.h. Max Näder, constructed a new production plant in 1946. The lack of skilled labor, money and materials presented a big business challenge. Nevertheless, Max Näder retained the company philosophy to always be on the look out for new ideas and technologies.

Portrait of Otto Bock and Max Näder

Worldwide expansion

Because the preferred poplar wood for prosthesis fabrication became difficult to obtain, he sought replacement in the chemical industry. That is how,starting in 1950, the first plastics were applied, some of which are still used today. Recognizing the vast potential of this new material, Max Näder founded the Otto Bock Kunststoff  in 1953 (“Kunstoff” meaning “plastic”). Today, the company is an important technology partner for Otto Bock HealthCare as well as a successful developer and supplier of plastics, e.g. for the automobile industry. The third pillar of the company group Otto Bock is Sycor. Formerly part of the computer department of Ottobock, the information and communication technology company develops customized solutions for company networks.

Max Näder also made wise international moves very early on. In 1958, he set off the expansion of the company and founded Ottobock in the US in Minneapolis. Today, Ottobock is the only true global player in the orthopedic industry. However, innovation remained the most important source of growth. The modular leg prosthesis set a global technological standard as of 1969. This patent contributed considerably to the current market position of the company, securing it an uncontested lead in leg prosthetics for over two decades. A further milestone in the 1960s was the development of myolelectric arm prostheses, that is, prostheses that are controlled by muscle signals. With such complex technologies, Ottobock changed from being the producer of individual components to a supplier of complete prosthetic systems. The company could thus provide and guarantee the function and quality of entire devices.

Quality for life