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KBA’s Frankenthal Press Plant Celebrating Its 150th Jubilee

August 17, 2011
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WÜRZBURG, GERMANY—August 17, 2011—August 18, 2011, will mark the 150th anniversary of German press manufacturer KBA’s Frankenthal production plant. The citizens of Frankenthal—and gravure printers the world over—still often refer to the company as Albert, even though that name was dropped in 1995.

Common roots in Oberzell
Founder Andreas Albert qualified as a master craftsman under Friedrich Koenig and Andreas Bauer—the inventors of the steam-powered cylinder printing press and founders of the world’s oldest press manufacturer—in a secularised monastery in Oberzell, near Würzburg. Moving to Augsburg, Albert became head of assembly at Reichenbachsche Maschinenfabrik (now manroland), founded by one of Friedrich Koenig’s nephews. In 1861 Albert and a partner, Andreas Hamm, established Schnellpressenfabrik Albert & Hamm in Frankenthal.

The first cylinder press was delivered that same year, to a printer in Nuremberg. The 100th machine left the factory in 1868, handcrafted by a workforce of 15 plus four apprentices. Like Friedrich Koenig, Andreas Albert personally supervised the training of his apprentices. In 1867, on his initiative, the Frankenthal Trade Association set up a proper training school, from which the Frankenthal School for Master Craftsmen evolved at the turn of the century.

In 1871 Albert’s contract with Hamm expired and in 1873 he founded Schnellpressenfabrik Albert & Cie. OHG in partnership with Wilhelm Molitor, a merchant. Hamm’s company was sold in 1895, relocated to Heidelberg in 1896 and later renamed Heidelberger Druckmaschinen. The roots of all Germany’s press manufacturers can thus be traced back to the monastery in Oberzell.

Andreas Albert died on 30 October 1882 and the business was carried on by his sons Aloys and Hubert, who steadily increased exports. By then the product range had been expanded to encompass platen, lithographic, letterpress, collotype, metal-decorating and publication cylinder presses like the popular Albertina. In 1889 Albert & Cie. built its first web press and ten years later shipped the 5,000th machine.

Soon the company had become one of Europe’s leading press manufacturers and the workforce had swelled to 1,200. In 1906 it launched the Bavaria metal-printing rotary press, forerunner of Albert’s web offset range. In 1910 Albert developed a variable rotogravure press, the first model of which was shipped three years later. Thus the Frankenthal company entered a market in which it was to become the world’s leading manufacturer.

1922: first web offset press
 

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