Home About Us The History of HEINE

The history of HEINE

For 75 years we have been manufacturing medical diagnostic instruments and are world leaders in this field. The reason is obvious: we live and love "Quality made in Germany". Every single instrument is the result of decades of product development, continuous improvements, production and a 100 % quality control in our own facilities.


The birth of HEINE Optotechnik

Our 4 founding principles have been guiding the way since 1946 and are as important today as they were then.

Helmut A. Heine, physicist and passionate engineer, founded HEINE over 75 years ago. His four founding principles still guide the HEINE team today:

First: do something meaningful and make an important contribution to society.

Second: always develop and manufacture the best product.

Third: produce relevant components yourself to ensure the best quality and drive innovation.

And fourth: stay independent to always be able to make the right long-term decisions for the benefit of patients, end-user customers and employees.

HEINE’s official incorporation

I stand behind each product with my name.

HEINE & Co. Medizinisch-Physikalische Werkstätten GmbH is officially incorporated in the town of Herrsching, Germany. Production of otoscopes and direct ophthalmoscopes based on the May design is already underway. To support the young company with additional work in the early years, however, HEINE also manufactures products for other companies, such as trial frames for Rodenstock.

With Germany in the grips of reconstruction and post-war turmoil, many resources and raw materials are simply impossible to come by. So, in his search for raw materials in order to manufacture his company’s first diagnostic instruments, Helmut A. Heine uses what he can find during this time: empty bullet casings. An early form of recycling is born.


First optics

We truly split hairs when it comes to quality.

We take our principles seriously – especially the principles of only producing the best product and doing what we can in-house – which is why we rely on a high degree of vertical integration right from the start. When we determine that there are no lenses we can buy that meet our precision standards, we start grinding and polishing them ourselves. We establish an optical workshop for lens production with equipment like rounding machines, for example.

In the meantime, the quality of our lenses reaches unparalleled heights. Our lenses are produced using state-of-the-art CNC machines with a level of precision of up to ± 0.0001 mm, which is 20 times less than the diameter of a human hair!


Bifocal ophthalmoscope

Eye examination with 2 focal ranges.

The bifocal illumination system makes two sharp aperture images possible: either on the fundus (i.e. the back of the eye) or on the front section of the patient’s eye. For many examinations, this is a great benefit, such as in cases of corneal injury, dry eyes or diseases of the eyelids.


First injection moulding machine

When it comes to tolerances, we are extremely intolerant

Another example of how we live by our principles: plastic parts that we’ve been purchasing until now are not precise enough for us. By acquiring the tool and mould construction company Klatt in 1973 and integrating it in our existing plastic injection moulding workshop, we expand our expertise to include the field of thermoplastic materials.


Acquisition of ZORN GmbH & Co. KG

Small bulbs. Big on quality.

We prefer to make bulbs ourselves so they meet our quality standards. If you’ve been following this timeline from the start, you’ll know why – it’s all about our principles. And if someone else can do a better job than we can, we’ll pay to have their knowledge and expertise. ZORN manufactures miniature precision bulbs and LED bulbs for HEINE’s high-quality diagnostic instruments as well as for manufacturers of devices used for spectral analysis in medicine and technology.


First mini instrument

Even our minis tower above most other full-size instruments.

Handy and ergonomic, lightweight and extremely powerful: these are the features of our mini instruments. Even the small HEINE instruments offer truly universal genius – but you probably expect nothing less from us!


Autofoc 2 Ophthalmoscope

I’ll get it sharp myself.

There aren’t very many instruments at this time that actively help during an examination. The automatic focus of the Autofoc 2 Ophthalmoscope helps the practitioner tremendously during the fundus examination, leading to a faster and more precise diagnosis.


Fibre Optic (F.O.) Blade

Let there be light.

Our fibre optic laryngoscopes have been continuously developed and further optimised for over 40 years. Our first integrated Fibre Optic (F.O.) blade has around 6,500 individual fibres in one piece.

These blades deliver unbeatable performance and reliability with their bright, crystal clear views.

The result of this continuous development today is our Classic+ Laryngoscope System, which outperforms every other product on the market.



More and more business overseas.

The HEINE Canada subsidiary is founded in Kitchener on 23 November 1982. The company has thus leapt across the pond to land on the North American continent.


OMEGA 100 Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope

The one Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope for people who use their heads.

At just 450 grams, HEINE’s first head-worn Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope, the OMEGA 100, is the lightest of its class – and that alone is why many practitioners quickly start using it around the globe. The ability to continuously adjust parallax and convergence together allows for stereoscopic examination of even the smallest of pupils.


Acquisition of Caminer Brothers in Australia

It might be Down Under, but it’s still top of the list.

HEINE founds a subsidiary in Australia by purchasing Caminer Brothers, a company which has already been importing HEINE instruments for years. The company is renamed HEINE AUSTRALIA PTY. LIMITED in 1991.


Helmut M. Heine joins the company

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – part 1.

Helmut M. Heine joins the management team of HEINE Optotechnik in 1986 and continues building the company’s reputation as a global leader in quality products as well as its international sales. Under his stewardship, HEINE USA is founded – an important milestone for HEINE as its independent breakthrough into the world’s largest and most competitive market. Today the USA is one of HEINE’s most important and successful markets.


HEINE (Schweiz) AG


In Switzerland, a country best known for its precise wristwatches, they know how to appreciate precision in medical devices as well – which is why HEINE founds a subsidiary in Neuhausen am Rheinfall.


BETA 200 Ophthalmoscope with AOS (Aspherical Optical System)

You have to have ideas!

Only by separating the illumination beam and the observation path of the practitioner using our exclusive AOS (Aspherical Optical System) is it possible to eliminate reflections when observing the retina. And only our BETA 200 can do that. The BETA 200 makes visualisation of the entire illuminated area of the retina possible.


Computer-controlled electroplating

For us, good is not good enough.

The electroplating department takes what is considered a huge step forward for the time and becomes one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in Europe. While having an in-house electroplating system does come with extremely high investment costs and a high workload, it also means being able to take full control of the process and define our own quality standards in the finishing of our products.

We have the expertise required to create especially sturdy and durable chrome-plated surfaces that cannot be purchased as such on the market.

Today our electroplating system processes more than 10,000 individual parts a day.

DELTA 10 Dermatoscope

How we invented the dermatoscope.

In 1989 our company founder goes to the dermatologist with his wife.

They both reckon that a birthmark looks peculiar. The dermatologist takes a quick glance at it and says, ‘I wouldn’t worry about it.’ Helmut A. Heine is stunned. How can the doctor come to that conclusion without a precise examination? The accuracy of a diagnosis made based on an assessment according to the ABCDE rule is around 55 %.

That isn’t enough for Helmut A. Heine. Through working together with the University of Munich’s Dermatology Clinic, he finds out that much more information is stored in the structures under the epidermis (skin) which would allow for a far more reliable diagnosis.

HEINE invented the first dermatoscope in the world in collaboration with the University of Munich’s Dermatology Clinic, Professor Dr Otto Braun-Falco and Professor Dr Wilhelm Stolz. The HEINE DELTA 10 increases the accuracy of diagnosis to 90 %. And we continue our research to ensure that as the inventors of dermatoscopy, we are still leaders in this field today.


Founding HEINE USA LTD. And the introduction of Oliver Heine

HEINE shows up on the scene!

As the American medical market takes on increasing importance, HEINE founds a subsidiary in the USA, showing how serious HEINE is about internationalisation on the one hand and also how high the growing demand for high-quality instruments is on the other.

Oliver Heine, the company founder’s grandson, joins the company as an area sales manager and is a founding member of HEINE USA LTD.


LAMBDA 100 Retinometer

There is an instrument that can predict the future.

The LAMBDA 100 Retinometer is the first compact instrument for determining a patient’s expected visual acuity after surgery in cases of cataracts or other opacities.

It can be used to give the patient a very precise prediction of the expected result of surgery without raising false hopes. This helps build trust between the practitioner and the patient.


Binocular loupes

You see better with two.

Especially when you can adjust for each eye separately:

the binocular loupes from HEINE represent another milestone.

The exclusive HEINE coating technology reduces light reflections to 0.3 % and allows for the brightest image of all comparable loupes. The extremely wide, deep field of view and the unique ability to adjust the system reduce fatigue and make work easier for a great number of practitioners and surgeons around the world.


Oliver Heine becomes Managing Director

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – part 2.

Oliver Heine joins the management team in Germany and takes on the responsibility for sales, marketing and the subsidiaries of HEINE (Schweiz) AG, HEINE USA LTD., HEINE INSTRUMENTS CANADA LIMITED, HEINE AUSTRALIA PTY. LIMITED, HEINE Scandinavia, Cornelius Glas GmbH and ZORN GmbH & Co. KG. He takes over the entire operational business of the HEINE Group in 2006 and assumes the total strategic and operational responsibilities in 2015.

The third generation of the Heine family still follows the same principles of the founder. Essential for the new era are investments in the development of new technologies and innovative products, the introduction of lean and efficient production processes and further investments in vertical integration and new manufacturing technologies.


OMEGA 500 Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope

The Olympic motto, interpreted by HEINE: brighter, lighter, better.

The OMEGA 500 is launched.

Our new Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope is still the only instrument that allows for synchronised adjustment of convergence and parallax. And because we only do things better, the OMEGA 500 is now lighter, more ergonomic, more intuitive to use, brighter and improved in many little details.

In 2008 the HEINE UNPLUGGED versions of the OMEGA 500 and our headlights are launched, making it the first time that practitioners are able to work wirelessly with their favourite instruments.

Work should be fun!


mini 3000

We build our mini 3000 series in a way that no one can copy.

HEINE instruments set the standard worldwide. Some competitors take this a little too literally and try to manufacture copies of our products. The example shown here is our mini 3000 Otoscope.

Due to the conical shape of the handle, it has already become impossible to reproduce it externally. But the inside, where it’s all about lenses, precision, light or thermal management, that’s what makes our experts gasp in shock and horror. We’ve seen it all, from unclear, tiny fields of view, incorrect colours and ridiculous designs to instruments that are actually dangerous.

We don’t always take legal action when we spot a fake – but we absolutely will if the well-being of patients and practitioners is put at risk or our patents are infringed.


10 2015 108 217.9 - Patent for dimmable LED light from 3 – 100 %

There’s LED. And then there’s LEDHQ.

As LED (light emitting diode) illumination becomes more prevalent in the 1990s, the quality of the light emitting diodes does not meet our standards. Only when we identify a manufacturer of LEDs that can meet our criteria do we start working on things like thermal management, colour rendering, durability, homogeneous illumination and light intensity. And we find solutions that redefine market standards. That’s what we call LED in HEINE quality, or LEDHQ.

Once again, HEINE can do something that no one else can: continuously adjust LED light, from as low as 3 % to 100 %, in all LEDHQ BETA instrument heads. And all with practical one-finger operation.

LED LoupeLight

It’s all in the name: loupe and light as one unbeatable combination.

Light and loupe only achieve their full performance when they work together. After all, only the right illumination in LEDHQ allows the loupe to produce its best image quality.


ML4 LED HeadLight

Light, wherever you look.

Specially developed to allow for perfect visibility during long surgical procedures or treatments. The many individual adjustment options of the headband and the comfortable leather cushions guarantee maximum wearing comfort and the best fit. LEDHQ provides natural colour rendering, and the coaxial design ensures a shadow-free image in any examination situation.

Several hundred patents since our founding, and more and more to come

Patented ideas.

A particular quality is embedded deep in our HEINE DNA: if we can make something better, then we make it better.

With the aim of achieving the best possible diagnosis always at the forefront of our minds, we strive to give practitioners around the world instruments that simplify examinations and improve diagnosis.

In the process, we often find ourselves blazing new trails that lead to inventions and new patents to protect them. These patents set us apart in the market and give us a competitive edge.


BETA 400 Otoscope

Sometimes bigger is simply better.

An otoscope like the BETA 400 is sure to please the otologist who revels in the small details. After all, this instrument is the only model that delivers 4.2 x magnification. A large depth of field in combination with a large field of view make it possible to view the ear canal and tympanum at a glance and leave no anatomical structures or foreign bodies undetected. The unique opening mechanism, which can be operated with just one hand, flips the viewing window up and makes it easy to insert instruments through the otoscope.


Cube System

Easy to use Digital Documentation Solution to wirelessly capture and work with dermatoscopic images.

Multiple users can easily capture images in their normal workflow with multiple mobile HEINE devices. Images are instantaneously transferred wirelessly to the Cube where they can be accessed, analysed, compared and administered through a simple web-browser interface from any laptop, PC or tablet. Easy. Efficient. Secure. The HEINE Cube.


EasyClean LED Laryngoscope Handles

I like getting wet – all in one piece.

The new HEINE EasyClean LED laryngoscope handle is 100 % water-resistant to make hygienic reprocessing even easier, faster and safer – and all without having to disassemble and reassemble the batteries and illumination unit in a time-consuming and tedious process. Technical-service personnel save time, and training and maintenance work is reduced.


HEINE on course for growth

Well positioned with extended management team

All signs point towards growth as owner Oliver Heine decides to expand the management team as part of his growth strategy. Dr Matthias Kühner is appointed Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and together with Timo Martin, in his new position as Chief Operations Officer (COO), they will assist Oliver Heine at operational level. Bettina Seim, in her new role as Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), is the driving force behind the company’s strategic developments and cooperative relationships. 

While remaining very much involved in the company’s operational affairs, Oliver Heine is turning his attention to the company’s strategic development.

DELTAone Dermatoscope

Small on the outside. Big on the inside. The HEINE DELTAone.

This mobile masterpiece is taking medical professionals by storm. The crystal clear image was accomplished using the achromatic HEINE optical system. Additionally, it delivers extraordinary colour rendering, due to the quality of our LEDHQ, plus the polarisation eliminates reflections and provides glare-free working conditions. The DELTAone is a tool dermatologists gladly carry around in their pocket.

DELTA 30 Dermatoscope

If there’s something to discover, you’ll be sure to see it. The HEINE DELTA 30 Dermatoscope.

See things you’ve never seen before: this high-end dermatoscope provides the best imaging we’ve ever developed. And all that when its true field of view measures 30 millimetres. On top of that, it provides unmatched colour rendering, in LEDHQ, of course. Polarisation eliminates reflections and ensures glare-free working conditions.


New building in Gilching

The green white building.

Our new company headquarters has been constructed on 30,000 m2 in Gilching, benefiting from direct access to the adjacent highway. Our high-quality instruments are produced here on an area of about 15,000 m2 with an exceptionally high level of vertical integration.

The two buildings have been constructed according to the latest requirements of the EnEV (German energy-saving regulations) and in some cases even exceed the specified requirements. The buildings consume no fossil fuels, being cooled in the summer via a groundwater-based geothermal heat pump and being warmed in the winter by reclaiming the heat generated by our many machines. Almost half of our property, including the roof area, is covered by vegetation.

So, the building may look snow-white, but it’s actually green.


OMEGA 600 Binocular Indirect Ophthalmoscope

Discover more. With less weight.

The new OMEGA 600 – the world’s lightest high-end indirect ophthalmoscope – provides the best stereoscopic images. It allows examination into the far periphery of the fundus, and now even delivers up to 20% better view of the retina in patients with media opacities – thanks to yet another world exclusive: visionBOOST. In our humble opinion, we’re a hard act to follow.

75 years of HEINE

Many ridicule us for our meticulous attention to detail. Millions of practitioners love us for it.

If something on our instruments can be improved, then we will improve it no matter what. It is with this meticulous attention to detail and drive for perfection and top quality that we manufacture our products.

That’s why we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk: we live and breathe quality. In everything we do. Every product we make. Every lens we polish. Every screw we tighten. Every optic fibre we bundle. Always. Every day.

It’s how we ensure that our high-end products meet our claim of providing the most accurate and earliest possible diagnosis. No more, no less.


A promise for the future.

We live from our ideas. From our belief in quality and the Made in Germany seal. From our steadfast commitment to the four principles of our founder. From the knowledge that you can always improve.

From a very high degree of vertical integration that combines craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technologies. And yes, when it comes to precision and perfection, maybe we’re a little bit obsessed.

And we will continue to make our products in Germany as well as continue to invest in research, development, new technologies and, above all, in our most valuable asset – our HEINE team members.

In doing so, we strive to preserve our core values and principles and at the same time continuously adapt our strategies and processes to a constantly changing environment. To continue to be successful and win together as an ambitious, committed and high-quality-focused team.

Sincerely your,

Oliver Heine

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