Artur Fischer, who revolutionized the construction industry with his 1958 creation of the plastic expanding screw anchor, has died. He was 96.
Fischer died peacefully surrounded by his family at his home on Wednesday, according to a statement by Fischerwerke GmbH, the Waldachtal, Germany-based company that he founded in 1948.
One of the world’s most prolific inventors, with more than 1,100 patent and utility model applications to his name in Germany alone, Fischer was honored by the European Patent Office in 2014 for his life’s work. His first patent, received in 1949, was for the synchronized photo flash, which he designed to eliminate the risk of fire from magnesium-based lights used at the time.
“He devoted his life, beyond commercial interests, to the common good and the fostering of young inventors,” the company said. “Numerous distinctions and public honors underline his lifetime achievement.”
His Fischertechnik toy construction kit, introduced in 1964, became a global standard for educational toys, giving children a basic understanding of technology and nurturing fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
The humble screw anchor, also known as a wall plug, is a tiny plastic capsule that expands as a screw is driven into a wall. It’s been reproduced around the world for its ability to enable screws to be fastened in materials that otherwise wouldn’t support heavy objects. He also invented several plugs used in medicine to repair broken bones.
Fischer received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1999. He is survived by his son Klaus Fischer, who took charge of the company in 1980, and his daughter Margot Fischer-Weber, with whom he was embroiled in an inheritance dispute, according to a Sept. 25 report in the legal publication Juve.