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  • Thermik Gerätebau: High-end PTC thermistors and thermal protectors for the global market

    Published on May 25, 2024

    German companies, especially from the SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) sector, have a worldwide reputation for being innovation leaders and at the same time excelling with high quality. Thermik Gerätebau is living proof of this guiding principle. The company has its roots in Pforzheim, where two creative minds began producing fuses for the electrical industry at the end of the 1960s.

    What began as small series production has developed into an innovative company that is now the technology leader in the field of PTC thermistors and thermal protectors. The success story is closely linked to the company founder Peter Hofsaess and his son, Marcel P. Hofsaess, who took over Thermik and has continued on this path ever since.

    The importance of PTC thermistors in temperature limiter systems

    Thermik Gerätebau is known worldwide for its temperature limiter systems, which are used in a wide variety of electrical appliances. Two of the components that are crucial to Thermik’s success are PTC thermistors and thermal protectors.

    Thermistors is a portmanteau word and comes from the English language. It stands for THERMally-sensitive resISTOR and describes a resistor that reacts to changes in temperature. Companies such as Thermik are able to produce thermistors with a wide range of nominal response temperatures. PTC thermistors are components with a positive temperature coefficient. They belong to the class of PTC thermistors, i.e. they are designed to conduct below a limit temperature, while this property is lost when heated to a certain point.

    This compactly summarizes the functional principle of thermal protectors and thermal protection systems. Temperature or overheating protection is the central task of these components. Numerous electrical appliances, from hair dryers to heat pumps, are familiar with this type of protection – if the appliance overheats, it switches off automatically. This protects the appliance from permanent damage and allows it to be restarted without any problems after a cool-down phase.

    Throughout its history, Thermik has pioneered the development of PTC thermistors and holds a number of patents on this technology. However, this is only an indication of the high level that Thermik’s technical products have reached and the expertise the company has in this area.

    This becomes clear when you take a closer look at the components and the development history. For example, the world’s first PTC thermistor with a closed switch mechanism was developed by Thermik Gerätebau. The entire technology of this switch, including the thermal protectors, was developed in-house.

    Thermik has also made a name for itself with particularly precise and compact temperature limiting systems. This sets the company apart from its competitors, who require reliable solutions for their own electronics. This is achieved primarily through the use of high-quality materials. For example, Thermik uses bi-metal switching mechanisms and relies on a high proportion of precious metals in the thermistors. Compared to cheaper metals, these react more precisely and reliably. This is a requirement of the electrical industry when it comes to implementing very precise specifications for thermal protectors. In fact, no other company can keep up with these high requirements, which is responsible for Thermik Gerätebau’s unique selling point on the global market.

    Innovation and customer proximity as the key to success

    A central component of Thermik Gerätebau’s strategy is close cooperation with its own customers. The focus here is on developing thermal protectors exactly according to the specifications of the electrical industry. This has advantages for the customers in particular, because according to Thermik, the “thermal protectors are either more powerful or rationalised to the customer’s production processes”. For this reason, the company not only has its own development department, but this is also designed for co-operation with customers.

    Thermik has the great advantage that the entire product cycle, from development to production, can be carried out in-house. The company’s customers also benefit from this. Customised development is possible right from the start and individual adaptations can be implemented more easily. Reliable and precise product design is particularly important in this area of technology. According to Thermik, the reason for this lies in the “very long product life cycles of over 20 years”. For customers from the electrical industry, PTC thermistors and thermal protectors are components in an overall design. Properties such as reliability, durability and precise function are particularly important here. The comparatively inconspicuous components, which end users often never notice, therefore have important tasks in electrical appliances.

    A second part of activities in the field of PTC thermistors and thermal protectors are customer-independent developments. In this area, the main aim is to cover the needs of the general market. Thermal protectors are available in a wide range of technologies and even inexpensive devices require a solution for overheating protection. Accordingly, there are different requirements here and solutions are needed that are maximally compatible and can be used immediately without expensive adaptations. Thermik solves this primarily with a wide range of thermistors, which are available in numerous series. Flexible out-of-the-box solutions are also available in terms of nominal response temperature and cable lengths. In this way, Thermik Gerätebau is able to supply a wide range of customers from the electrical industry directly with the right PTC thermistors or temperature limiters.

    Thermik Gerätebau secures its lead over the competition in this sector primarily through innovations and patented solutions. The company notes that “patented new technologies from Thermik improve both the performance and miniaturization of the products”, which leads to retaining existing customers and opening up new markets. A look at the large product range in the field of PTC thermistors and thermal protectors shows that Thermik is broadly positioned here.

    Well positioned for the future – these changes are brought about by Green Tec and technical progress

    Developments in the field of electrical engineering are constantly progressing. This requires companies that are active in this sector to constantly adapt. Foresight is also important in order to recognize trends and changes at an early stage. Thermik Gerätebau has recognized the challenges of the near future and is adapting accordingly. The company has identified the energy transition in particular as a decisive factor here.

    In this context, Thermik refers to the increasing use of electrical components. These can be found in pumps, fans, generators, battery monitoring systems and electric heaters, among other things. The green tech sector is growing primarily due to the energy transition and the digitalisation of a wide range of industries. All of this technology requires thermal protectors to protect the sensitive electronics and ensure safe disconnection in the event of a fault.

    Miniaturization also plays a central role in modern PTC thermistors and thermal protectors. The reason for this is obvious, as the electrical appliances in which these components are ultimately used are themselves becoming increasingly compact. For this reason, Thermik Gerätebau is also focussing on particularly small and space-saving PTC thermistors. One result of this is the STM thermistor, for example, which requires a minimum of space with a diameter of just two millimetres.

    Thermik’s inclusion in the list of Germany’s 100 most innovative companies shows that it is one of the pioneers in this sector and in German SMEs in general when it comes to innovation. Thermik also constantly invests in research and development. The company has been pursuing this successful strategy for decades and has become an innovation leader in its own sector primarily for this reason.

    The fruits of this research work can also be seen in the recent past. New developments from Thermik Gerätebau include explosion-proof thermal protectors and a series of high-performance switches. These are just some of the new solutions from the areas of PTC thermistors and thermal protectors designed for future applications in electrical appliances. In any case, the company structures are optimally positioned for future challenges and changes in the market.


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