From Heidenheim to all over the world

The development of the Swabian family enterprise into an international company

It all starts at a locksmith's workshop in Heidenheim. Here, Johann Matthäus Voith creates the basis for industrial paper production. Discover the exciting company history of Voith.

It all started in a locksmith's workshop:  J. M. Voith lays the foundations for industrial paper production (1825-1867)


In 1825 the 22-year-old Johann Matthäus Voith takes over his father's locksmith business. At the time, the workshop employs five master locksmiths. Johann Matthäus Voith and his staff specialize in the repair of water wheels and paper mills.


As early as 1830 Johann Matthäus Voith and his team participate in the construction of a paper machine for Johann Widmann from Heilbronn.


Based on a patent by Friedrich Gottlob Keller Voith develops the first wood grinders. In doing so, he lays the foundations for the engineering group Voith.


The Heidenheim paper maker Heinrich Voelter and Johann Matthäus Voith sign a contract for the design and the construction of wood grinding machines. Their first customer is the Saxonian paper mill Kübler und Niethammer.


When Johann Matthäus Voith is 61 years old, his son Friedrich Voith joins the family business, the "Mechanical Workshop and Iron Foundry", in order to prepare his succession. In 1864, the company employs 35 people.

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"From the Swabian Jura into the big, wide world": from a locksmith's workshop to an industrial enterprise (1867 - 1913)


1 January 1867 is the official foundation date of J.M. Voith. At the time, the company employs 30 people. In the same year, Johann Matthäus Voith hands over the business to his son Friedrich.


Under the leadership of Friedrich Voith the company continues its development of wood grinding technologies. In 1869 Voith obtains the first patent for a wood grinder with a toothed loading rack.


The product range of the company - paper machines and stock preparation technology - are supplemented by a further segment. By taking up water turbine construction with a 100 HP Henschel-Jonval unit, turbines are now also part of the Voith portfolio.


At the World Expo in Vienna, Friedrich Voith and Heinrich Voelter present the Voith wood grinder and are awarded with the "Progress Medal" for their development. In the same year, Voith delivers the first Francis turbine to the weaver C.F. Ploucquet in Heidenheim.


In 1879 Voith designs and builds its first turbine control system. The turbines were initially intended for the mechanical drive systems of machine. With ongoing electrification, water turbines are now primarily used for power generation.


Voith produces the first complete paper machine PM1 with a wire width of 2.35 meters for Raithelhuber, Bezner u. Cie. in Gemmrigheim. The customer is full of praise: "The ran right from the start without any complaint."


The 25th anniversary of Voith is attended by a very special guest: on 2 July, King Wilhelm II visits Voith. The workforce, by 1892 now comprising 330, go to work in their Sunday best.


From 1893 J.M. Voith takes up the construction of turbines. For Friedrich Voith the production of free-jet turbines signifies another step forwards both in economic and technical terms. To him, the contact to science and research is an essential success factor: "Whoever wants to survive in the battlefield of competition, must be ahead in technology."


Voith delivers the first paper machine to Russia.


In 1903 Friedrich Voith opens the first Voith subsidiary in St. Pölten, Lower Austria, with 230 employees, in order to open up the markets in Austria-Hungary and Russia. At the headquarters in Heidenheim, the workforce has meanwhile risen to 1 000. In the same year, Voith receives an order for the world's largest turbines: twelve Francis turbines, each rated at 12 000 HP, for the power stations at the Niagara Falls in USA and Canada.


in 1908 the first hydraulic test laboratory, the "Brunnenmühle" is opened in Heidenheim, marking another milestone in the history of the company.


Voith delivers turbines for the first Chinese hydro power station in the world , Shi Long Ba (Yunnan Province).

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Innovations turn into basic technologies: hydrodynamic drives, Voith Schneider Propeller and Kaplan turbine (1913 - 1945)


When he dies, Friedrich Voith leaves his three sons Walter, Hermann and Hanns an engineering company with 3 000 employees. In the same year, Voith builds its largest newsprint machine so far with a wire width of 5.20 meter. The customer is Holmen Bruks in Hallstavik, Sweden.


The Kaplan turbine, named after its inventor Prof. Viktor Kaplan and rated at 1 100 HP, is built for the first time. In the same year Voith starts with the production of gear drives.


In 1927 the engineer Ernst Schneider and Voith in Sankt Pölten register a patent for the Voith Schneider Propeller, which was built in the previous year on the basis of plans by the Viennese engineer. Its special feature: the ship propulsion system, which also assumes the steering, allows a previously unreached degree of maneuverability for ships.


The first ship fitted with a Voith Schneider Propeller, the "Uhu" is launched.


Voith signs a licensing agreement with Hermann Föttinger for a hydrodynamic coupling, brake and converter. The company starts with the construction of the first turbo couplings.


The year 1934 sees the delivery of the first Voith turbo transmission for a diesel-hydraulic railbus operated by Austrian Railways.

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Reconstruction and worldwide presence: pioneers in paper recycling technology, first steps towards globalization (1945 - 1983)



After the death of his brothers,  Hanns Voith assumes the management of the company. In 1950, Voith begins with the development of automatic differential converter transmissions for citybuses.


In 1951 the first Voith Water Tractor "Biene" is launched.


Voith opens a satellite plant in Crailsheim for the production of turbo couplings. In the same year, Voith exports the first turbo transmission to the United States. 


In 1957  Hugo Rupf as appointed as CEO alongside  Hanns Voith. Hugo Rupf is the first senior manager who is not a member of the Voith family.


Voith is among the pioneers of paper recycling. Together with the paper mills Palm and Haindl, Voith develops a new flotation deinking process for creating  pulp from waste paper. The new process allows to remove printing ink from waste paper and produce new high-quality paper.


In 1961  Voith GmbH delivers the largest newsprint in Europe so far with a wire width of 8.3 meters. The customer is the publishing house  Ahlström in Warkaus, Finland. In the meantime, Voith in Crailsheim builds the first Voith variable-speed turbo coupling.


The growing power transmission business requires an expansion of the manufacturing capacities. In 1963, the new plant in Garching near Munich takes up the production of automatic transmissions for buses.


Voith establishes a branch in São Paulo, Brazil.


Voith builds the world's largest newsprint machine so far for Holmens Bruk paper mill in Sweden with a wire width of 9 meters. This is followed by an order from the USA for two of the world's largest free-jet turbines with an output of 226 000 HP. The four Francis turbines delivered by Voith to Estreito in Brazil have the same rating.


Voith receives an order for the delivery of 12 turbines for Itaipu hydro power station in Brazil, the world's largest hydro-electric plant. 

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Acquisition, joint ventures and investments in research and technology (1983 - today)


In 1983 Voith enters a new business field: with the acquisition of Appleton Mills in Appleton/USA paper machine clothing is now also part of the Voith product portfolio.


At Crailsheim location Voith builds the first Vorecon variable-speed planetary gear.


In the year when the Berlin Wall comes down, Voith builds its biggest deinking plant so far in Weilheim-Schongau, Upper Bavaria, for the production of recycled paper. 


In 1993 Voith takes another step forward in paper recycling technology: the commissioning of the Voith PM11  for Schwedt paper mill - the first paper machine for producing newsprint from 100 recycled paper.


Voith and the Swiss Sulzer Group merge their paper technology activities in the joint venture  Voith Sulzer Papiertechnik.


1995 is a year of record numbers: Voith delivers the 1 000 000th turbo coupling, the 100 100th retarder and the 25 000th turbo transmission for rail vehicles.


Voith Hydro gets the go-ahead for the delivery of six turbines for one of the world's largest hydro power stations at the Three Gorges Dam in China.  Voith also delivers the Triple Star to Austria - one of the world's most powerful paper production plants.  This year's deliveries also include the 150 000th retarder and the 100 000th Voith automatic transmission.


Voith acquires Scharfenbergkupplung in Salzgitter and Küsel Antriebe in Essen.


In the largest acquisition in the company's history, Voith takes over the paper technology business of the British Scapa Group plc. and becomes a leading supplier of wires and felts for the paper industry.


 Voith und Siemens enter into a joint venture in the field of hydro power technology. Voith also increases its share in DIW Deutsche Industriewartung AG and obtains industrial leadership among the shareholders.


In 2001 Voith Paper takes over the paper technology business of  Jagenberg AG,  Hermann Finckh Maschinenfabrik and the recycling and dewatering activities of   Kvaerner Pulp & Paper in Norway.


Voith Industrial Services complements it portfolio with a buy-in at the Imo Hüther Group in Ludwigshafen. Voith Paper strengthens its presence in Northern Europe with the acquisition of  Pikoteknik in Finland.


At the end of May  Voith Industrial Services expands its leading position in the market for technical services and acquires the US-American Premier Group. Voith Siemens Hydro acquires Wavegen in Inverness. The Scottish company was founded in 1990 and is a leader in the construction of wave energy systems as well as a research and development pioneer of this technology.


Voith acquires the share majority in Hörmann Industrietechnik GmbH. On 11 May the Voith Paper Technology takes up service in Heidenheim. The world's most advanced paper research center is the first installation to allow complete test runs and optimizations of paper production processes under realistic conditions.  A dream of the paper industry comes true: holding the paper of tomorrow in your hands  today.


In July 2007 Voith sets up a joint venture for tidal current technology with the Korean company Renetec. In November, Voith Siemens Hydro acquires the Austrian small hydro company   Kössler based in St. Georgen.


Voith and 200 customers and partners from all over the world celebrate the 100th anniversary of the  "Brunnenmühle“, which has previously been modernized by an investment of more than EUR 20 million.


In April Voith Hydro and RWE Innogy announce the establishment of the joint venture Voith Hydro Ocean Current Technologies. The new company intends to boost the development, production and marketing of ocean current technologies.


Voith expands in India and opens a new plant for small hydro components and runners rated up to 30 megawatt in Vadodara.


In summer, Mutriku at the Basque coast takes up service as the world's first commercial wave power station. For this plant of the Spanish energy supplier Ente Vasco de la Energía (EVE), Voith supplied the equipment for the 16 Wells turbine units. They have a total output of 300 kilowatt and produce enough electricity for 250 households. 

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