Heidelberg Info

Can anyone clarify the designation of the Heidelberg cylinder presses? Our shop has what I though was called a KS and it feeds a 20 x 28 sheet. A friend of mine said his old shop had a KS also but it was 14 x 20. Was there anything in the model of press to identify them as different or were they both just KSs? He said his shop also had a KORD and a KORS, he can’t remember but he’s pretty sure they were both offset presses. The D was the larger 20 x 28 and the S the smaller 14 x 20. Were all KOR”whatever” offset?

I tried to find a time line or list of presses Heidelberg made with no luck.

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Heidelberg printing presses 1967

Model and size in cm.

Platen presses (from 1914)
T 28x38
GT 34x46

1 color letterpress cylinders (from ca. 1920)
KSB 40x58.5
KSBA 46x58.5
SBG 57x77
SBB 57x82

2 color letterpress cylinders (flatbed and cylinder form)
KSBZ 40x58.5
KSBAZ 46x58.5
SBGZ 57x77
SBBZ 57x82

2 color letterpress sheet rotation
KRZ 40x57

1 color rotaspeed letterpress
REN 71x102
REH 71x102

2 color rotaspeed letterpress
RZB 71x102

4 color rotaspeed letterpress
RVB 71x102

1 color offset sheet rotation (Offset presses from 1962)
KOR 40x57
KORA 46x57
KORD 46x64

1 color rotaspeed offset
RON 71x102
ROH 71x102

2 color rotaspeed offset
RZO 71x102

4 color rotaspeed offset
RVO 71x102

Regards Jens

The postwar Original Heidelberg Cylinders were the KS at 15x20.5 and the S at 21x28 (less sure about that, Heidelberg publications are not consistant regarding designations at different periods). The sheet size is right on the panel in front of the operating lever (under the medallion), and the model can be found as part of the serial number. On my 1960 KS that is on the frame, just left of the speed control.
The KS was replaced by the KSB around 1962, the same period when they started making offset presses, maybe the S series was expanded around then as well. The K series ran from the 15x20.5 KS to the 18x25 KSD. It looks like the largest S cylinder was 28x41.

thanks all, very informative.

I’ve ran windmills for about 20 years and have seen several Heidelberg cylinders. But I’m having trouble thinking how you run several colors on the letterpress cylinders. Could someone just give a basic idea as how they work?

Those “R-” series letterpress machines are all rotary, with cylinders for both plate and impression, no flatbed at all. You couldn’t tell them from an offset press except there’s no blanket cylinder or dampeners.
The “-Z” cylinders are hybrid flatbed/rotary machines with a rotary or “wraparound” plate above the inking unit, using a common impression cylinder.

Thanks for that info, so I’m sitting here analyzing how it works. Each time I read your comment it gets a little clearer. I’d probably have to see one to fully grasp the idea. Thanks

I have enclosed 3 scans of the Heidelberg 2 color letterpress machines. At the diagram the black parts are the usual units of an ordinary cylinder press. The red parts shows the inking unit and the rotary form cylinder.
Regards Jens

image: Heidelberg 2 color diagram.jpg

Heidelberg 2 color diagram.jpg

image: Heidelberg 2 color detials.jpg

Heidelberg 2 color detials.jpg

image: Heidelberg 2 color.jpg

Heidelberg 2 color.jpg

Thanks for that. I’ll make a copy of that so I can study it as i get the chance.

I have never seen this press but seen it on magazines. As you can see on “Fig. 64” ( 1st image bogtrykkeren posted ) this is a rotary press or a 2 color press. It would print with a chase with a locked forme ( like letterpress cylinder ones ) and a nylonprint plate mounted on the upper cylinder to run 2 color jobs. The process was called “letterset” if I recall correctly.

I guess from this press they developed the offset versions KOR, KORS and KORD offset, which have also a smaller cylinder were nylonprint plates were mounted. It has a engraved label saying “off-set - letterset” .

Heidelberg rotary letterpress (whether on Z flatbed-rotary hybrids or R all-rotary presses) and “letterset” are different. Rotary letterpress used a wraparound plate printing the sheet directly (photengraving, duplicate electrotype or stereotype, photopolymer, and other kinds used as well). The three Z Heidelbergs I have seen had Warnock groove cylinders for duplicate plates.
Letterset uses an offset press and a shallow relief plate (dampeners unnecessary), and the image is transferred from plate to blanket to sheet. Since this is an indirect process, right-reading plates are used. None of the K-series offset presses were two-color, as far as I can see in the manuals.

Dear gurus

May I ask your advice if those 2 colour letterpress machines could be used for die-cutting, creasing, etc.? (photographs attached)

If yes, is there any difference, any specific moments in the process of rebuilding such 2-colour letterpress machine for die-cutting as compared to single colour letterpresses converting?

I`d really appreciate any help with manuals either.

Many thanks

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That’s a rotary two-color, one of the R-series, using wraparound relief plates for direct printing. Since it is not a flatbed, you can’t use a steel-rule die. I understand there are high-tech dies (etched?) that can be mounted on cylinders, but don’t know the compatibilty with this machine.

I know, this thread is a little older, but I just came across it. One thing about Heidelbergs abbreviations, I can explain: a “Z” stands for the German word “Zweifarben” which means “two color” and “V” is for “Vierfarben”. This can be found in the abbreviations of cylinders (SBGZ), rotary presses (RVB = Rotary / Vierfarben / Buchdruck = letterpress) and GTO’s.

Regarding the last post with the R-series machine: I’m not familiar with this machine, but I have a suggestion that might be a little experimental but could turn that machine into a pretty fast die cutter. There are die cut tools for inline die cutting in offset presses. Those rotars dies are made of very thin sheet metal (etched, and machined). If one would wrap a base layer around the cylinder to adjust hight, one could use those dies with this machine. Take a look at http://www.kocher-beck.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=... for those dies. Anyway, just a blind guess…


There is a company “cito” systems they supply the kits for adding to litho/ offset machines, it cartainly works in its limited way . The largest grief is the rotary delivery on chains is not such fun, the S SB SBB SBD SBG are all best left to the task with flat delivery and large cylinders . speed of a rotary machine is not a consideration when the job keeps falling to bits inside the press and you end up running at a crawl just to deliver the job through the press.
Small diameter cylinders are not so good for die cutting as the bend in the sheet means you have to put notches in the cuts aand that is not so pretty on dark coloured jobs .
Chain delivery machine mean the cut sheet has to get round two tight turns before dropping into your delivery unit not ideal even if you just crawl along , however for perforating work the K series is a good tool !

I am looking to buy Heidelberg SBD in USA . Please send me the details to [email protected] or Contact +1-9724006012

Here in the UK I often saw Heidelberg K presses used as
designed for offset-litho. But standing in the corner, gathering dust and never used due to Union rules were alternate ‘shells’ which were for offset letterpress, using thin e.g. Nyloprint (which Heidelberg were briefly agents for) right reading plates, The machine could happily work either. In passing, in the Jarrold printing museum in Norwich, Norfolk there used to be a DIRECT llitho machine , location now not known.