Heidelberg printing machines

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Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG

legal form Corporation
ISIN DE0007314007
founding 1850
Seat Heidelberg , Germany
  • Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO
Number of employees 11,316
sales 2.3 billion euros
Branch mechanical engineering
Website www.heidelberg.com
As of March 31, 2020

The Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG , mostly for short Heideldruck or simply Heidelberg called, is a company of precision engineering and the world's leading manufacturers of sheet-fed offset - printing machines including comprehensive solutions for the print media industry. The company's headquarters are in Heidelberg ( Baden-Württemberg ), the most important production site and corporate headquarters is the Wiesloch / Walldorf site about 13 kilometers south of Heidelberg .

Product range

Print Media Academy : Office and training building at the headquarters in Heidelberg. In the foreground the " S-Printing Horse "
8-color Speedmaster CD 74 printing machine with coating unit

The company's largest product area is the manufacture of sheet-fed offset printing machines. Sheet-fed offset printing is mainly used for high-quality, multicolored print products such as catalogs, illustrated books, calendars, posters, packaging and labels. Finishing techniques such as varnishes, special fragrances or unusual printing materials are becoming increasingly important. Modern sheet-fed offset printing machines print up to 18,000 sheets per hour.

Due to strong company acquisitions in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG increasingly got involved in the production of machines for upstream and downstream printing processes. Today, in addition to the actual printing machines (printing, English: press ) , the company also sells devices for exposing the printing plates ( printing prepress , English: pre press ) and for further processing the printed sheets, i.e. machines for cutting, folding and punching ( printing further processing , English: post press ). There are also software components for the integration of all processes occurring in a print shop.

Particularly since the global financial crisis in 2008 and increased consolidation within the printing industry in recent years, Heidelberg has been trying to open up new business areas outside of the construction of printing machines. These include in particular the service and consumables sectors, which are relatively independent of the economic cycle, as well as industrial solutions such as a charging station for electric vehicles and software for the digital networking of today's process chains and technical documentation. This is done under the name Heidelberg Industry. Heidelberg serves the market for digital printing machines through partnerships and, with the takeover of Gallus Holding in 2014, also the label printing market. On the one hand, this should reduce the dependency on commercial printing and take into account the trend towards smaller runs, which are mostly produced with more flexible digital printing machines, and on the other hand, the rapidly growing market in label printing should be tapped. In July 2020, Heidelberg announced the sale of Gallus to the Swiss benpac holding ag.


The headquarters as well as research and development, sales, service and the assembly of almost all printing machines are located at the Wiesloch - Walldorf site, 13 kilometers south of Heidelberg . This location is home to the largest printing press factory in the world with almost 4,100 employees and a floor area of ​​860,000 m². In 2018, the research and development center with its 900 employees was the last company division to be relocated from its original location in Heidelberg to Wiesloch. The new development center, which has a gross area of ​​40,000 m² in a hall in Wiesloch-Walldorf, was inaugurated in December 2018 by the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann. After the sale of all administration buildings in Heidelberg, the Print Media Academy near the train station is the only building owned by Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG in the eponymous city.

Further production and development sites in Germany are in Amstetten on the Swabian Alb ( foundry ), Brandenburg an der Havel (production and assembly of components), Ludwigsburg ( folding machines and mailing systems ), Kiel (software for integrating all processes in prepress , press and postpress ) and Langgöns . Heidelberg was the first European printing press manufacturer to open a plant in China at the end of 2006. In Qingpu / Shanghai , around 400 employees primarily manufacture standardized printing machines in all common format classes for the Asian market. There are further production sites abroad in Belgium , the Netherlands (both pressroom chemicals), Switzerland (Gallus printing machines) and in the USA (Baumfolder folding machines). The company is represented by more than 3000 sales and service employees at 250 locations in 170 countries worldwide.

The company employs around 11,300 people worldwide. More than 86 percent of its sales of 2.35 billion euros were achieved abroad.


100 RM shares in Schnellpressenfabrik AG Heidelberg from January 1925
Company history and people involved
Model T Platen ( built from 1950 to 1985)
Heidelberg cylinder printing press
Heidelberg KOR offset printing machine, Heidelberg's first offset series
God greet the art - plaque on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the company
The famous Heidelberg crucible - A pressure press is a printing machine in which both the pressing and the counter-pressure body each form a flat surface. There was also the automatic paper feed.
A “stick motorcycle” from Heidelberg production

The history of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG was largely shaped by macroeconomic upswings in the twentieth century, which indirectly influenced the print media industry positively through the rise of the advertising and consumer goods sectors. In recent history, the company has run into financial difficulties several times due to the decreasing importance of print products due to the digital revolution and because of wrong commercial decisions and is now trying to open up markets outside the graphics industry with new business models.

Early years (1845 - 1905)

The first forerunner of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG was a bell , fire engine and steam engine factory in Frankenthal, Palatinate . The trained bell founder Georg Hamm took over this bell foundry in 1845 from the stepson of the company's founder Georg Friedrich Schrader, who founded the foundry in 1774. In January 1849 Georg Hamm's brother Andreas Hamm was accepted as a partner in the company, but at that time he was only a limited partner together with the civil servant Friedrich Wilhelm Meinhold. The jointly and severally liable partners continued to be Georg Hamm and the river shipping company Georg Adam Kühnle . The official founding date of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is 1850. In this year Andreas Hamm took over his brother Georg's shares in the company, as Georg Hamm had to flee into exile due to his participation in the 1848/1849 revolution . Dissatisfied with his limited decision-making powers, Andreas Hamm decided to leave the company in 1851. He received the company's bell foundry, the machine production remained with the other shareholders, who continued this area. In 1856 Hamm met Andreas Albert , assembly manager at C. Reichenbachschen Maschinenfabrik and former foreman at Koenig & Bauer , who was on a business trip. Together they decided five years later to manufacture high-speed presses in addition to bells and cast parts in loose cooperation . It was not until 1863 that production began under the company name Albert & Hamm with a formal contract with a term of 10 years . In this new company, Hamm provided the operational equipment with machines and tools and took care of the supply of raw materials with cast parts and steel. Albert mainly took over the management of the day-to-day business, especially the construction of the printing machines. The two partners shared operating costs and profit. The machines produced were sometimes criticized for being too similar to the Reichenbach models without any notable improvements. Nevertheless, it was soon possible to sell machines far outside the German-speaking area to Cherson and Odessa . After Albert left in 1873, an interim phase began that Hamm used to devote himself more to bell casting. During this period, the imperial bell for Cologne Cathedral was also cast . Then Hamm, now together with his son Karl, again built high-speed presses in tough competition with Albert's new company, the high-speed press factory Albert & Cie. This was taken over by Koenig & Bauer in the 20th century as Albert-Frankenthal AG. Andreas Hamm died in 1894. Hamm's son then sold the company to Wilhelm Müller in 1895, who relocated the company headquarters to Heidelberg . However, the sale only included mechanical engineering and not the bell foundry, which was operated independently until the 1960s. At the time of the takeover, Müller was already a partner in a Heidelberg machine factory that was merged with the Hamm factory.

Takeover by the Kahn Group (1905 - 1945)

Rising raw material prices and declining demand caused the company to experience a crisis at the turn of the century, as a result of which the factory, now known as Schnellpressenfabrik A. Hamm AG, was owned by Rheinische Creditbank in Mannheim and Darmstädter Bank für Handel und Industrie . In 1905 the company name was changed to Schnellpressenfabrik Aktiengesellschaft Heidelberg (short form: Schnellpresse). However, as the Schnellpressenfabrik continued to be in the red, the banks were soon looking for a new investor for the company, and they also appeared as its creditors. This was found in 1916 in the Bochum-born entrepreneur Richard Kahn , who integrated the Heidelberg machine factory into his own corporate network, the Kahn Group .

The Heidelberg crucible

A well-known product under the aegis of Kahn was the Heidelberg crucible , which was produced 165,000 times from 1914 to 1985. For the first time, it had an automatic paper transport and thus worked far faster than conventional models. The crucible, which was manufactured in flow production from 1926, represented the greatest successful model of the high-speed press at that time. The crucible had been developed before Kahn's takeover, under his direction it was further developed and made ready for series production.

A special feature was the start of motorcycle production in Heidelberg. Since 1928 at the latest, the high-speed press had been producing the so-called stock motorcycle, the construction plans of which had been adopted by Stock-Motorpflug AG within the Kahn Group. It was a light motorcycle with an output between 2 and 11 hp. For the Heidelberg factory, however, motorcycle production was only an extremely small sub-division, which was completely discontinued in 1933.

Within Kahn's corporate conglomerate, Maschinenfabrik Geislingen (MAG) and the manufacturer of operating tables C. Maquet AG with the Schnellpresse merged in 1929 . Although Maquet's medical technology division was sold again in 1933, the Geislinger Maschinenfabrik and its foundry remained firmly connected to the high-speed press. It was the predecessor in today's Amstetten near Geislingen company. At that time, the Kahn Group was struggling with increasingly severe financial problems and was heavily in debt. This brought about the complete collapse of the Kahn group in 1932. Fortunately for the fast press, the profitable parts of the Kahn Group had already been spun off in 1931 at the insistence of the banks. This ensured the continued existence of the company, even though Deutsche Bank and Disconto-Gesellschaft and Commerz- und Privatbank became the new main shareholders. In March 1940, Rheinelektra took over the absolute majority of Schnellpresse shares from Deutsche Bank.

After the collapse of the Kahn holding company, the high-speed press continued to grow. The company suffered a severe setback for domestic business in 1935 when the President of the Reich Press Chamber Max Amann issued several ordinances which, in the interests of press co-ordination, enabled the liquidation of non-system-compliant publishers and forbade the establishment of new printing companies. At the same time, even then, the increased efficiency of the print shops had a negative effect on the new machine business. All of this led to a domestic sales decline of 27.6% in 1935. However, it was possible to compensate for this drop in sales by increasing foreign sales by almost a third. Despite serious disadvantages due to the restriction of the freedom of the press, the Schnellpressenfabrik was welcomed by Nazi functionaries because of the foreign exchange it generated. During the time of the National Socialist leadership, political pressure was also exerted to remove Jews from the factories. The most prominent and at the same time only known victim of this persecution within the high-speed press was board member Oskar Leroi. Leroi was urged to resign in 1937 and replaced by a doctorate in law, Ludwig Henrici. Leroi survived the war in France and received pension payments until 1940, which were completely banned in April of that year. After Leroi's return to Germany in 1949, his retirement benefits were paid retrospectively for the period from 1940 and were paid regularly until his death in 1962.

From the outbreak of war in 1939, lathes were mainly manufactured, as these were considered essential to the war effort . To this end, orders were secured from the Magdeburg machine tool factory and the Heinemann brothers from St. Georgen. The assembly line production of the crucible was transferred to the production of precision lathes and the high-speed press factory became the first German company to manufacture machine tools on the assembly line. The machines produced were used, among other things, in engine and aircraft construction. Mainly grenade and bullet cases were manufactured at the Geislingen plant. Although the armaments command in Mannheim demanded the cessation of printing press construction as early as 1940, production was continued until 1942, as sales to neutral foreign countries continued to bring in foreign currency. To compensate for male workers called up for military service, a maximum of around 150 French and Soviet prisoners of war and Eastern workers were used during the war . At that time, these made up 23% of the total workforce. The halls of the Schnellpressenfabrik survived the end of the war unscathed.

Growth and prosperity (1945-2000)

After the end of the Second World War, a new era in the company's history began under the leadership of the Management Board member Hubert Sternberg . Kahn appointed him to the board in 1926. Today's main plant in Wiesloch / Walldorf was opened by Hubert Sternberg after a year of construction in 1957, because the main plant in Heidelberg was too narrow and the resistance to a new building project by the company in Heidelberg had become too great. It was also Sternberg who had the Heidelberg products installed on demonstration vehicles and who made them known throughout the country with the mobile presentation machines. At the beginning of the 1960s, machines for high-pressure printing were only being produced using the high- speed press. In 1962, the company presented its first machine for offset printing , the Heidelberg KOR (Small Offset Rotation). In 1967 the Schnellpressenfabrik was renamed Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG . The products turned out to be extremely competitive. The company quickly became the world's largest provider, well ahead of its closest competitors. The GTO (Großer Tiegel Offset) was the first offset machine from which more than 40,000 printing units could be delivered. The GTO was built from the year Sternberg left the board in 1972. The introduction of the Speedmaster series in 1974 consolidated Heidelberg's position in the manufacture of offset machines. The Speedmaster series is still in production to this day.

As early as the mid-1980s, Heidelberg , the new short form of the company name, was one of the most important companies in German mechanical engineering. At that time, around a third of the entire European NC machine tool base was in use in Wiesloch / Walldorf. In 1988 Heidelberg acquired the web offset press manufacturer Harris Graphics Corporation with locations in France , the USA and Mexico . After German reunification, the production of machine components began in Brandenburg. In the prepress area, Heidelberg acquired Linotype-Hell AG in 1996 in order to expand its product range primarily to include laser imagesetters specifically for printing plate exposure. Also in 1996, the Contiweb company, which was taken over by Stork , enriched the Web Systems segment with newspaper and other web offset printing machines with its reel splicers . It was not until the end of the century, in 1997, that Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG was first listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (abbreviation HDD). This IPO was organized by Hartmut Mehdorn , Chairman of the Board of Management at the time, who qualified for the position on the Board of Management in the intended privatization of Deutsche Bahn . Bernhard Schreier was his successor in October 1999. In the same year, the company took over the Office Imaging division (black and white digital printing) from the Eastman Kodak Company and Stahl GmbH & Co. KG from Ludwigsburg. This company primarily manufactured folding machines and other machines for post-press processing and, with its locations in Ludwigsburg and Sidney / Ohio, still contributes to Heidelberg's post-press activities today. In retrospect, the year 2000 can be seen as a high point in corporate growth. The turnover of 5.3 billion euros achieved in the 2000/2001 financial year could no longer be achieved in the following years. In 2000, the Print Media Academy was opened, which was planned as a training and office building in Heidelberg, but its inefficient use of space was repeatedly criticized. At the industry's leading trade fair drupa , Heidelberg presented itself as a solution provider for all areas of printing.

First phase of weakness and contraction (2001 - 2007)

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the associated severe slump in the advertising industry, which is particularly important for Heidelberg, the 2002/2003 financial year was the first year since the economic crisis at the beginning of the 20th century in which Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG made a loss . In the course of this industry crisis that lasted several years, the company reorganized its business activities. On January 31, 2003, Jagenberg AG acquired the sheet punching and folding box gluing machines for the packaging industry, Jagenberg Diana GmbH in Neuss and Woschnik + Partner in Mönchengladbach, as well as a plant in Slovakia, Jagenberg Slovensko spol. sro in Nove Mesto. These companies produced machines that are needed for folding and gluing cardboard and corrugated cardboard packaging.

The strong growth of the Heidelberg Group in the 1990s turned out to be unsustainable, so the Web Systems division (web offset presses) with plants in Dover (USA), Montataire (France) and Boxmeer (Netherlands) had to be transferred to the US Goss International Company to be sold. In return, Heidelberg received a 15 percent stake in Goss. The digital printing division and the previously existing joint venture for digital color printing with Kodak , NexPress, were transferred back to the American partner, Heidelberg Digital Finishing GmbH in Mühlhausen , a former Kodak location. With these decisions, the expansion into new business areas was revised. The sales proceeds from both areas were extremely low, but this was accepted in order to be able to sell the loss-making areas at all. From then on, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG concentrated again on its traditional core business of machines for sheet-fed offset printing. In the 2004/05 business year the company returned to profitability. At the same time, in May 2004, RWE announced that the company would liquidate its holdings in Heideldruck. This happened in the course of the general dismantling of industrial holdings by the energy company. RWE held a majority stake of over 56% in Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG for a long time, from 1940 to 1997 indirectly via Rheinelektra and from 1997 to 2000 via Lahmeyer AG. After Lahmeyer AG merged with RWE in 2000, the Heideldruck stake was held directly by the parent company.

In Qingpu near Shanghai , an assembly line for folding machines and small-format printing machines was opened in 2006 with initially 130 employees. In the late summer of the following year, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG started manufacturing machines for the so-called “very large format”. In this format class, sheets of paper with a width of up to 162 centimeters are printed. Such machines are mainly used for printing packaging that is often required in large print runs. A 260-meter-long and 135-meter-wide hall was built at the Wiesloch-Walldorf site at a cost of 45 million euros for the assembly of these machines, which weigh up to 200 tons. Its construction also coincided with the site's anniversary, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this summer.

Company-threatening crisis (2008 - 2010)

After a successful drupa in the spring of 2008, the financial and economic crisis was increasingly noticeable in the economically sensitive business of Heidelberg. In the second half of the year, incoming orders and sales fell significantly, and overcapacities on the world market caused difficulties for pricing. Under the pressure of the crisis, cost-cutting measures were introduced that should save around 400 million euros in the medium term. In this context, the company also parted with around 4,000 of its previously almost 20,000 employees worldwide. Short-time work was carried out at all German locations in 2009 and 2010, and loans and federal guarantees in the amount of over 700 million euros had to be applied for in order to stabilize the financial situation. The continued existence of Heidelberg could also be secured through these state commitments. At the Annual General Meeting in July 2010, the shareholders also resolved by a large majority to increase the capital to the value of around 420 million euros. This reduced the company's debt and improved its capital structure. In the previous month of June, Goss International was taken over by the Shanghai Electric Group , including the 15 percent stake from Heidelberg.

Recent developments (since 2011)

Since April 2011 there has been a global strategic cooperation with the Japanese electronics manufacturer Ricoh in order to also be able to serve the growing market for digital printing machines. In the drupa year 2012, there were fundamental changes in all areas of the company and 2000 jobs were cut worldwide, over 1200 of them in Germany. At the beginning of November 2013, Heidelberg announced a global strategic partnership with the Japanese company Fujifilm. The cooperation between the two companies will primarily focus on developing products for the growing digital printing market, from which Heidelberg had previously withdrawn with the sale of its digital machine holdings.

In 2015 the Management Board and large parts of the administration moved from Heidelberg to Wiesloch. The research and development area remained in Heidelberg for the time being, and is to move into a converted production hall at the Wiesloch plant by the end of 2018. In the same year, the division previously acquired by Jagenberg for the manufacture of die-cutting and folder-gluing machines was transferred to Masterwork Machinery Co. Ltd. (MK) from Tianjin. Heidelberg and Masterwork continue to cooperate in this area, for example the Masterwork machines are sold by Heidelberg in most regions of the world. In the 2015/2016 financial year, the company achieved an after-tax profit for the first time after several years of losses. Rainer Hundsdörfer has been the new CEO since November 2016. The Bamberg software developer Docufy was taken over in 2017 to strengthen the “Heidelberg Industry” division. This offers application software for technical documentation. In October 2018, Heidelberg also announced its intention to take over the folding machine manufacturer MBO from Oppenweiler. This takeover would have significantly enlarged Heidelberg's processing division, but was prohibited by the Federal Cartel Office in May 2019 . On January 23, 2019, it was announced that the previous sales partner in the field of machines for processing packaging prints, the Chinese Masterwork Group, would like to take an 8.5% stake in Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG.

Particularly in the wake of a difficult market environment, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG is increasingly marketing services in the field of contract manufacturing and offering its own products outside of the graphic industry. These include a wall charging station for electric vehicles, the electronics of which were developed by the company. Heidelberg supplies the electric vehicle manufacturer e.GO Mobile with power electronics for the company's standard charging unit. Günther Schuh , co-founder of e.GO Mobile and Streetscooter , was a member of the supervisory board of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG until 2019.

In March 2020, Deutsche Börse announced that Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG will no longer be included in the composition of the SDAX in future . From 1998 until it was relegated to the SDAX in 2012, Heidelberg shares were part of the MDAX .


On March 8, 1996, the Mannheim Regional Court decided in an important ruling on domain name law that Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG could be prohibited from using the “heidelberg.de” domain because the city of Heidelberg had older rights from the “Heidelberg” name. Since this judgment, the company has only used the domain “heidelberg.com”, while the city of the same name can now be reached at “heidelberg.de”.


  • Martin Krauß: From bell casting to offset printing. History of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG . regional culture publisher, Ubstadt-Weiher 2000, ISBN 978-3-89735-148-6 .
  • Heidelberger Druckmaschinen-AG (publisher): 150 years of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen-Aktiengesellschaft: 1850–2000 . Heidelberg 2000. ISBN 978-3-00006-068-7 .


  • Always under pressure - Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. Documentary film, Germany, 2018, 29:45 min., Script and director: Eberhard Reuß, production: SWR , series: made in Südwest , first broadcast: April 25, 2018 on SWR television , synopsis by ARD , online video by SWR.

Web links

Commons : Heidelberger Druckmaschinen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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Coordinates: 49 ° 24 ′ 20.7 "  N , 8 ° 40 ′ 46.6"  E

This article was added to the list of articles worth reading on March 8, 2019 in this version .