W&H, the pioneer of the modern dental handpiece, celebrates its 120th year in 2010 with promises of yet more innovation ahead.
Product manager for W&H, Shal Hafiz at Australian distributor A-dec, said W&H was the world's first manufacturer of dental transmission instruments and devices and still the clear leader in innovation.
"It could well be argued that no single company has advanced dentistry as much as W&H through its constant innovation," Mr Hafiz said.
W&H is named after its founders, Jean WEBER and Hugo HEMPEL, who formed W&H Dentalwerk in Berlin in 1890 to design and manufacture Europe's first straight and contra-angle handpieces.
W&H patented their first dental handpiece as far back as 1895 and the precursor to the modern contra angle was patented by W&H in 1907. This was followed by the first endodontic handpiece, the W&H Endo Cursor, in 1926.
The string of innovations by W&H continued under the direction of engineer, Peter Malata, who took over the firm in 1958. The same year Mr Malata had a son, Peter Malata Junior, who runs the company today (now located in Burmoos, Austria).
A history of world firsts
Just a few W&H milestones over the years included the addition of transmission gears to handpieces, the world's first air-operated ball bearing turbines, the first push-button chuck system for FG burs (Turbo 60) and the first-ever 1:5 speed-increasing contra-angle with 200,000rpm turbine cutting speed.
W&H has also made great advances in bench-top sterilization with its Lisa sterilizer and its exclusive B-Type cycles as well as producing the most effective and efficient automated handpiece maintenance unit, the Assistina.
In more recent times, W&H is perhaps best known for introducing LED lighting into dental and surgical handpieces, making dentists' jobs easier and helping improve both diagnosis and treatment.
W&H equipment have been distributed in Australia by A-dec since 1990.