History

1775 - 1944 From the village smithy to an engineering factory

1775

Christian Henrich Kolbus, for many years a farrier and shoeing smith in the Prussian army, starts a smithy on the site of the current KOLBUS company headquarters in Rahden, East-Westphalia. He and his family run the smithy and farm the nearby land. In the following years, various outbuildings are added.  

 

1877

Grandson Franz Christian Kolbus builds a forge on the same site to manufacture and repair agricultural machinery and equipment, cast-iron stoves and windmill components and bracket and church-tower clocks.

 

1898

His son, August Kolbus, spends 13 years in North America as a master craftsman in book binderies. He takes this know-how back to Rahden with him when he returns to work in his father’s company. 

 

1900

August Kolbus develops and builds a book spine rounding and surface pressing machine. Called the “Rupert” it’s the first in a long line of KOLBUS book bindery machines and lays the foundation for the “Rahdener Maschinenfabrik Aug. Kolbus” in Rahden, Westphalia. In 1910 an embossing press is added to the machine range.

 

1927

August Kolbus launches the first “KD” casemaker at the Leipzig Autumn Trade Show. The Rahdener Maschinenfabrik employs 90 people, 80% of the production is exported.

 

1939

KOLBUS manufactures armaments for the German Army

1945 - 1986 Postwar years and international success

 

At the end of the war, the Rahdener Maschinenfabrik is completely demolished.

 

1947

Reconstruction with 35 employees: the first buildings are a production hall and a design studio. By 1950 the company is employing 150 people.

 

1962

Launch of the first fully automatic KOLBUS book finishing system, capable of producing 36 books a minute on a continuous production line. This is an international breakthrough for KOLBUS engineering. The company product portfolio now includes 20 machine types.

 

1972

At the DRUPA, KOLBUS unveils the “Compact line”. The line, which is only 7.65 m long, handles rounding, pressing, gauze application, gluing, headbanding and casing-in at 25 cycles/min.

 

1980

Market launch of the KOLBUS perfect binder for the production of book blocks “Systembinder” KM 490 (6,000 softcovers/h). KOLBUS perfect binders enjoy worldwide success.

1987 to today: development and new production processes

1987 

Start of a new project “KOLBUS 2000” doing the groundwork and setting the direction of travel for the future –Research and Development expanded, Engineering Design modernised, new buildings and renovations at the Rahden headquarters. 

 

2000

Market launch of the ZU 840 gathering machine featuring a radically new gathering  mechanism.

 

2006

The photobook, a digitally printed photo album, makes its first appearance on the market. KOLBUS as a specialist in book finishing supplies the production system for runs of 1 upwards, based on a BF 512 book finishing machine coupled with the DA 260 casemaker.

Awarded 1st prize as “Best Factory in East-Westphalia”. Worldwide KOLBUS employs 1,300 people. Exports account for 90% of production and trainees and apprentices make up 15% of the workforce. 

 

2009

Business area KOLBUS Packaging Production established: first production of luxury packaging with 7-part cases on the DA 260 casemaker and SA 260 lining unit.

 

2011 

Hycorr Machine Corporation LLC, Kalamazoo, Michigan, (corrugated packaging machines) becomes subsidiary of KOLBUS America

 

2014

For the first time KOLBUS has a stand at the interpack trade show in Düsseldorf: KOLBUS Technology for Packaging opens up new horizons in the production of unique luxury packaging

 

2015

The development of the new KOLBUS WF 100 web folder closes the gap between printing and book finishing. The Bookjet® system supplies complete solutions for industrial-scale digital printing.

 

2016

At drupa, KOLBUS will present itself with machines for four thematic areas: Magazine and commercial printing, business process printing, book production and luxury packaging.

 

2017

KOLBUS focuses intensively on the international packaging sector with smaller exhibitions. With application advice and packaging design support, KOLBUS has already arrived as a brand in the packaging market and branded goods.


2018

After 243 years of history as the world's leading bookbinding machine manufacturer, the company changes its business field with the sale of the perfect binder and booklines division. For book production, KOLBUS will only supply equipment for the production and finishing of book covers. The new focus is on special machinery for packaging production and component manufacturing.

 

2019
With the acquisition of the British machine manufacturer AutoBox, KOLBUS expands its range of machines for on-demand corrugated box production.

 

2020
Market launch of the new RD 115S flexo print rotary die-cutting machine with servo drive technology for Europe