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Heidelberg Celebrates 60 Years of Stahlfolder Production in Ludwigsburg

April 2009
HEIDELBERG, GERMANY—04/30/2009—The Ludwigsburg site of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its folding machines. In 1949, Kurt Stahl and Adolf I. Döpfert founded the company Stahl & Co. Maschinenfabrik Ludwigsburg. Shortly afterwards, engineer Kurt Stahl constructed and presented his first folding machine, while businessman Adolf I. Döpfert built up the sales side of the company.

During the nascent years of the company, sales operations were limited to Germany, before then undergoing expansion through the worldwide sales and service network of Heidelberg. Today, the Stahlfolder name is synonymous with folding machines. Customers from all corners of the globe will have the chance to find out why in the course of the "Stahlfolder Demo Weeks" to be held at the Information Center in Ludwigsburg between the end of April and mid-May 2009.

Folding machines - a global success story
Operations moved to the current site in Ludwigsburg in 1960 and the 10,000th folding machine was assembled there as early as 1968. The 20,000th machine was delivered twelve years later in 1980. The designers worked to ensure that the productivity, user-friendliness and quality of the machines underwent a process of ongoing development. The highly successful models of the 1960s included the "Stahl Variabel" machines with working widths of 58, 72, 86, and 100 centimeters, and the combination folding machines with working widths of 58, 72, and 86 centimeters. The Stahl-O-Mat generation was introduced in time for drupa 1977. 1984 then saw the advent of the KC "Compact", the first combination folding machine with an electronic folding knife.

The first fully-automatic buckle plate folding machine was unveiled for drupa 1986. At drupa 1995, the new buckle plate and combination folding machines in the TD and KD series raised the bar further still. A completely new generation of folding machines was launched at drupa 2004 in the shape of the Stahlfolder TH/KH. The machines scored highly at the Red Dot Design Awards and received a PIA/GATF InterTech Award. To date, more than 3,500 machines have been delivered worldwide. The Stahlfolder KH 82 with automated cross-fold unit proved one of the highlights of drupa 2008. It cuts makeready times in the cross-fold unit by 80 percent and is the first machine to achieve a speed of 230 meters per minute even in cross folding jobs.

Constant expansion of product portfolio and market position  
In order to expand its global market leadership in the field of folding machines, Stahl acquired folding machine manufacturer Baumfolder in Sidney, Ohio (U.S.) in January 1991. This move established a production site in the U.S. and opened up the key American and Canadian markets. In the same year, Stahl also took over another U.S. company, saddlestitcher manufacturer Macey. 1994 brought the successful acquisition of McCain-Brehmer Buchbindereimaschinen GmbH in Leipzig. Brehmer manufactured folding machines, saddlestitchers, thread-stitching and thread-sealing machines. Today, Leipzig is the competence center for saddlestitchers and adhesive binders. In January 1999, Heidelberg acquired the Stahl Group along with the sites in Ludwigsburg, Leipzig and Sidney/Ohio. Stahl lived on in the product names and the Stahlfolder made its debut at drupa 2000. Since 2006, Heidelberg has been producing the KHC 78 and KHC 66 folding machines for the Chinese market at the Qingpu plant near Shanghai.
 

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