Milestones for a family enterprise - KOLBUS has been setting standards for almost 250 years

1775 - 1944 - from the village smithy to an engineering factory

The family of Franz Christian Kolbus around 1884; August Kolbus (top row, middle) KOLBUS
The family of Franz Christian Kolbus around 1884;
August Kolbus (top row, middle)
The “Rupert” book rounding and surface pressing machine built from 1900 to 1955 (photo taken in 1950) KOLBUS
The “Rupert” book rounding and surface pressing machine
built from 1900 to 1955 (photo taken in 1950)


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.  



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



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. 



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.



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.



KOLBUS manufactures armaments for the German Army

1945 - 1986 - Postwar years and international success

Book finishing system “Compact line” 1972 KOLBUS
Book finishing system “Compact line” 1972
“Systembinder” KM 490 KOLBUS
“Systembinder” KM 490


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



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



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.



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.



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 - continuing expansion and new production processes

Kai Büntemeyer, managing partner since 1996 KOLBUS
Kai Büntemeyer, managing partner since 1996
The ZU 840 gathering machine achieves enormous production volumes KOLBUS
The ZU 840 gathering machine achieves enormous production volumes
The first KOLBUS packaging line
The first KOLBUS packaging line


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. 



Kai Büntemeyer becomes managing partnerof KOLBUS GmbH & Co. KG. Descendants of the Kolbus family and other partners form the company Advisory Board.



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



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. 



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.



KOLBUS takes over Sigloch Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG (book block processing machinery)



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



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



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.



At the pre-show media conference for the drupa 2016, KOLBUS announced that its XML syntax is available as a free Internet download, ensuring that the world can speak with KOLBUS machines.