In fond memory

Samuel Steinemann was appointed Director of Research & Development at Institute Straumann in 1962 and served on the company’s Board of Directors between 1969 and 1989. He then continued as a scientific advisor to the company in addition to serving as Professor for experimental Physics at Lausanne University.

In the early 1970s, when Straumann began exploring the possibilities for tooth replacement with implants, Sam Steinemann recognized that one of the keys to long-term success lay in the contact region between the implant and the body tissue, in other words in the implant surface. Convinced that only a rough structure could create the conditions for bone to grow onto the surface and thus lead to osseointegration, he was involved in developing dental implants with titanium plasma spray (TPS) coatings.

The unquenchable thirst for new knowledge meant that surface technology did not stand still, and in 1990, the first preclinical studies were carried out with a revolutionary sand-blasted, large-grit, acid-etched surface – the “SLA”. Driven by scientific curiosity as to how the new macro- and microstructured osseoconductive SLA surface would work in humans, Sam Steinemann followed the best traditions of research with a self-experiment in 1994. He had an SLA implant inserted by Prof. Daniel Buser in Berne – four years before the actual market launch of SLA. In 2004, Straumann made a quantum leap from surface topography to surface chemistry with SLActive. Sam Steinemann took the lead in optimizing the surface at the molecular level. He developed and carried out the laboratory experiments that were needed to develop the new technology until it was finally ready for production. It was also his research and genius that led to the creation of Roxolid, the alloy of titanium zirconium that sets the benchmark for high strength combined with biocompatibility. Roxolid was the first material specifically designed for use in dental implants.

These are just a few of the breakthrough inventions that have brought smiles and changed the lives of millions of people around the world. We owe him our sincere thanks for the decades of outstanding contribution, both to basic research and to the continuing development of the Straumann® Dental Implant System. Professor Steinemann’s achievements go far beyond this (few people know that there is an island named after him). He was a tireless researcher who welcomed people to Straumann with open arms and infectious enthusiasm for new things. He shared his thoughts and genius with countless academics and students, but most importantly his ideas and enthusiasm have been turned into practical reality.  And this is what distinguishes him from so many other scientists and makes him an example – even for managers: the practical approach of the engineer – that great ability to make things happen – to get things done.

Samuel Steinemann passed away peacefully on Monday 22 February 2016. We will miss him and his devotion to our company Straumann.

Gilbert Achermann, Chairman of the Board, and Dr h.c. Thomas Straumann, Vice President of the Board