KBA’s Frankenthal Press Plant Celebrating Its 150th Jubilee

Group photo commemorating completion of the 100th press at the Albert (KBA) plant. [Double click photos to enlarge.]

Albertina multicolor publication cylinder press, 1887.

Albert-Frankenthal’s first newspaper press, 1889.

In the 1930s, Albert automatic printing machines were a major pillar of Frankenthal’s product range.

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
In 1914 Albert shipped its first two-colour sheetfed offset press and in 1922 its first web offset model. In the mid-1920s the company developed the fastest and most advanced newspaper press of its day: the Roter Teufel (Red Devil). In the thirties the sheetfed programme of offset, gravure and letterpress machines was expanded to include a highly successful range of automatic printing machines. But the global economic slump of the early thirties took its toll and Albert was forced to close down in 1934.

Production restarted in 1935 and in 1940 the company went public, changing its name to Schnellpressenfabrik Frankenthal Albert & Cie. AG. However, the factory was later bombed out. After the war, employees gradually rebuilt the manufacturing facilities and re-established sales outlets. In the fifties and sixties production was dominated by large series of cylinder letterpress, sheetfed gravure and newspaper presses. It was during this period that the Albertina and Super-Albertina helped make Albert the world market leader in rotogravure.

By 1961, when Albert celebrated its centenary, it had more than 2,000 people on the payroll and was looking to expand capacity still further. That same year a branch factory was opened in Kusel, some 100km (62 miles) away. Meanwhile, publication rotogravure was fast becoming the company’s best-selling line and in 1965 Albert produced the first rotogravure press with a web width of 2.6 m (8ft 6in). The Frankenthal factory set the pace of development in rotogravure with ever wider, faster and more flexible models.

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