Behind the scenes: How fischer develops chemical fixing systems “Made in Germany”5. March 2021
We previously introduced our Plastics Business Unit and the developers at fischer Italia in our “Behind the Scenes” series. This time, we take a look at fischer’s chemical fixing systems. In southwest Baden-Württemberg’s town of Denzlingen, fischer develops and manufactures chemical fixing solutions for extreme applications across the entire globe – from subtropical climates in Hong Kong to the depths of the ocean all the way to the tips of the Himalayas. The video provides exclusive insights into the production and development of fischer injection systems and resin capsules. Jens Zimmerlin, Head of Product Management Chemical Fixings, discloses even more details in our interview.
Jens Zimmerlin joined fischer as Product and Sales Manager in 2017 in order to help set up the new “No tools, just hands” range for the DIY adhesives market. He has been Head of Product Management in the Chemical Business Unit in Denzlingen since September 2019. In this role, he is responsible for chemical fixing systems as well as construction chemistry.
Mr Zimmerlin, what’s so special about the Chemical Business Unit?
Jens Zimmerlin: Everything is combined under one roof at our Denzlingen site. Not only development and product management, but also the manufacturing process planning, production, test field and quality assurance departments. Due to our close quarters we work in very close proximity. Routes are short and the process of sitting down at a table with colleagues is uncomplicated and quick. As an example, specific questions about production are considered from the very start while developing a product, as not every idea is easy to produce at a later stage. Our interconnectedness makes our processes very quick. We also have a high vertical range of manufacture and we produce several of the raw materials required ourselves. Our mixing facility manufactures the hardener and mortar components out of chemical raw materials for the subsequent filling process. We develop the containers ourselves and also mould the plastic parts here on site. This allows us to guarantee the highest level of quality throughout the entire process.
Precise solutions for the market
What is your process during the development of injection systems and resin capsules?
Jens Zimmerlin: Here in Product Management we are the connecting link between the market and development. Our development department doesn’t just sit in a quiet room and tinker away on ideas that we later push into the market. Instead, we take the requirements of the market and use them to develop suitable systems and solutions. This not only involves formulations, but also developing our cartridges, dispensing guns etc. We then make these systems available to our customers for their global requirements.
FIS EM Plus rivals its competitors
Let’s take the FIS EM Plus epoxy resin mortar as an example, which was launched in 2018. How did you develop this product?
Jens Zimmerlin: Our predecessor product, the FIS EM, was already very successful. Nevertheless, the market provided the suggestion: “Can you do even more?” We compiled our customers’ ideas and requirements in a product concept document. This not only involved higher load values but also requirements in terms of processability and a wider range of approvals. We discussed the viability of these ideas together with the System Development department, which deals with containers, accessories and approvals, as well as the Development Laboratory. We recorded ‘must, should and can’ product development criteria in a functional specification document. We developed an upgraded product with the FIS EM Plus, which permanently and securely transfers high loads in concrete even in extreme conditions such as earthquake zones and sea water. Surfaces also don’t require roughening up in diamond-cut drill holes in order to achieve full load values, which saves costs while providing added safety. This isn’t supposed to sound boastful, but we have outdone all our competitors with the FIS EM Plus – both in terms of load values as well as approvals.
How do you guarantee quality and how exactly do approvals work?
Jens Zimmerlin: There are numerous quality checks as early on as during the development process. This starts with the raw materials that are supplied and extends all the way to the formulations that are later examined in the laboratory and our testing hall. Once a product development has been completed, we test it before the external approval tests commence. The European assessment guidelines (EAD) ensure that every manufacturer subjects their mortar system to standardised tests. The tests that need to be carried out are regulated by the respective European or American testing guidelines. This ensures that the results of every manufacturer can be compared. The comprehensive tests in various temperature zones, cracked and non-cracked concrete, wet and dry drill holes etc. can take between 12 and 18 months. The ETA-17/0979 extended the working life of the FIS EM Plus from 50 to 100 years. The Stuttgart engineering firm IEA takes things one step further by certifying a working life of 120 years. The FIS EM Plus is the first injection mortar to have ever been awarded such durability.
ETA and ICC Approvals
What role do approvals play in international projects?
Jens Zimmerlin: Our products are assessed according to the European ETA guideline as well as the American ICC-ESR. Most planners, structural engineers and project managers around the world work with one of these two systems. National regulations also play a key part, such as the general design certification in Germany or China’s GB Code. Our FIS EM Plus recently received a general design approval to be used in WHG surfaces made of impermeable concrete. Germany’s water resources act (WHG) stipulates design type requirements for the protection of drinking water.
What kinds of applications use the fischer injection mortars and resin capsules?
Jens Zimmerlin: They are used in extreme applications all across the globe. Our FIS EM Plus injection mortar was used during the refurbishment of the St. Pauli Elbtunnel in Hamburg together with an M27 threaded rod, for instance. We carried out on-site tension tests with 150 kN and provided support with our expertise right there on the construction site. The world’s longest sea crossing, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, offered particularly extreme conditions: A subtropical climate with air humidity of up to 90 per cent in addition to regular earthquakes and typhoons as well as sea mist containing salt that increases the risk of corrosion. In this case, the client also opted for the FIS EM Plus as well as our resin capsule RSB. fischer was also used to secure an emergency bivouac in the Himalayas at a height of 5,080 metres, in a region that is particularly heavily affected by earthquakes. Our injection mortar FIS SB was also used on this project.
Developed and produced in Germany
What is the significance of “Made in Germany”?
Jens Zimmerlin: The “Made in Germany” designation of origin is associated with a particularly high standard of quality worldwide. Here at fischer, our objective is to provide fixing solutions for the highest standards. Anything that says fischer on it shall contain fischer quality, including every single cartridge. That’s why we not only produce in Germany, we also develop our products in Germany. We use our decades of experience as well as the knowhow of our engineers and chemistry doctors. Almost every fischer chemical fixing systems formulation is protected by global patents. This allows us to prove our innovative power and technological skills while protecting ourselves against plagiarism.
What about custom-built products?
Jens Zimmerlin: There may be cases where the products in our portfolio don’t fully meet the customer’s requirements, so that specialist solutions are needed. We are always happy to support our customers in cases such as these. Market requirements of this sort may also lead to the development of new fischer products at a later stage.
Can you tell us what you’re currently working on?
Jens Zimmerlin: There is more and more emphasis on processability as well as the health and safety of the user. After all, after a certain level of performance, higher load values are barely achievable, as chemical components no longer determine the performance, instead the concrete or steel construction materials may lead to concrete cone failure or steel failure. We are therefore currently working on a non-hazardous mortar system.