1775 - 1944 From the village smithy to an engineering factory
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 and 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
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- 2017 development and new production processes
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.
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.
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 drupa, KOLBUS will present itself with machines for four thematic areas: Magazine and commercial printing, business process printing, book production and luxury packaging.
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 until today
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 book production line 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.
With the new BOX LINE machine series, rigid box packaging made of grey cardboard can be produced completely automatically. In 2018, the BOX LINE box former was awarded the German Packaging Prize for the inline production of boxes with exactly right-angled edges.
With the acquisition of the British machine manufacturer AutoBox, KOLBUS expands its machine range for corrugated board folding box production.
Market launch of the RD 115S flexographic rotary die-cutting machine with servo drive technology and a state-of-the-art machine control system. The modular machine can be equipped with up to eight printing units and is designed for high-volume production.
In the packaging machinery category, the independent jury of the DVI (German Packaging Institute) honoured the BOX LINE Wrapper with the Packaging Award. Laminating slip-on lids or collar boxes with high-quality decorative materials is not a new process, but it has been implemented by KOLBUS in a format-flexible manner. With the new principle, format parts have been substituted and thus set-up times reduced or eliminated.
The BLW 200 enables the automatic laminating of panel blanks without moulding tools. The simple operating concept with integrated robotics and the precise edge wrapping ensure the highest product quality.