Is the Heidelberg Windmill really dangerous?


I’ve been thinking about purchasing a Heidelberg Windmill but I recently heard that they are very dangerous to operate - so much so that one printer was very discouraged from buying one. Is this really true?

Also, what is a reasonable price for one?


Log in to reply   15 replies so far

This is not true. I think they are quite safe in fact.
I have been running one daily for the last 3 years, and have never felt unsafe. They are definately more complex and powerful than, say, a Vandercook or a tabletop press, and can be intimidating at first, but they are quite nice to use.
They have a gaurd plate that keeps the pressman in check, and if the gaurd is moved to access the press, it locks the function so the press won’t run.
While in operation, the press feeds automatically, and does not require the operator to place any part of himself in the way of harm.
If someone has been hurt on a windmill it is through negligence, not at the fault of the press or how it has been designed to run.
I would guess that a C&P or and hand fed Kluge would be more of a danger.
As far as price, I would pay between 3,000 and 7,000 dollars for one that is in really good shape. You may get a good deal on one that is in rough shape, but you will need a pro in order to deal with any real mechanical work. I would try to find one in running order. There are plenty out there, so don’t settle for a lemon.
I think they are great, don’t let someone talk you out of them for safety concerns. Just make sure that from a functional standpoint it is the right press for you.
Good luck. :)

Thanks for the advice!

Another quick question - what happens when it breaks down for whatever reason? Do I need to call a specialist? I’m pretty handy so I’m hoping I can troubleshoot things myself if need be. I have no idea what I’m getting myself into! :)

I heard that Heidelberg still sells parts for them just doesnt build them anymore. I knew a guy that thought he had to replace the oil pump in his he had to call Germany, they told him they had to make one from scratch and would take 2 months, for $900, who knows how long ago that was either

You will find that most shops who have had these Heidelberg Platen presses in use have had very few service calls. Normal wear and tear will help some pasrts to deteriorate, but most of the service calls occur from inadequate maintenance (oiling) and stuff that should not happen, like leaving a quion key in the form after changing a variable slug line in a job. (I saw this happen while visiting a plant which produced personalized calendars.)

They generally just keep on running with minimal adjustment or repair needed.

windmill is safer than an ATF little giant. Now that thing is scary, but so cool at the same time.

Heidelberg does carry some parts and a number of independent press supply companies also provide basic supplies like rollers and washup blades, gripper arms, and other miscellaneous parts. Some of the stuff you’ll find is true Heidelberg parts, and some of it is aftermarket remakes, but since the windmills are still widely in use for die cutting, scoring, and foiling, alot of the parts can still be found. As was mentioned above, however, parts are not often cheap. This is why i recommend finding a press that is already in decent shape.
That said, we too have experienced very little trouble as far as maintenence is concerned.
Out of the 3 windmills that we run daily, we have only had the mechanic up maybe twice in 3 years, and those were not major issues. The pres i get to run has only required the rollers to be recovered, and has given me no other trouble. The quality and engineering is truly remarkabe if you have a chance to work with the press over a period of time.
can you tell i am a fan.

I’ve been running 2 10x15’s and one 13x18 for 20 years and the only problem was a belt came apart, and rollers needed to be replaced, but they were on the press for years before I started here.

The first time i switched one on everyone ran out of the factory…, it scared them a bit as the die plate flew acros the room….
now they ignore them running, there not that bad but look scary i fequently am told the health saftey woudnt like them!

im always hurting myself on machines, but i havent got myself with a heidelberg yet, so they cant be that bad

Theres so many bits that move, but anytime your hands are close something you can get too without being stupid, something else pushes you out of the way

The very first time i switched one on , i had the 3 phase wired up incorrectly i knew it would run, but not sure in which direction…., it ran backwards, i put it `in gear` and the windmills flew round, grabbed the die cutting plate, pulled it off and threw it across the room…..
nobody was hurt but it made a hole in the wall, so it could have hurt someone,
as i say im a disaster near machines, run them alot for die cutting boxes
I paid 150 pounds for each of mine in the UK from on ebay, everyone tells me thats a very cheap price

i paid so little i thought they would break down quickly, no problems yet, apart from needing new rubber rollers

been runing them for 28 years with only minor bits from being dum and trying to adjust somthing on the fly. Heard about some girl getting wopped upside the head trying to look down inside, but it didn’t hurt her to bad.
Windmills will run forever, but parts cost a arm & a leg. I recently picked up a factory foiler that was one of the last ones they made. When I got it it had the small front guide instead of the standard chrome L shaped guide. $200.00 from heidleberg and the screw was extra.
Important things to remember are 1Don’t let the central oiling system run out of oil or it can loss its prime and then you have to take the head off to take the top of the pump off to hold your finger over the hole. 2 be carefull how much stuff you try to get down by the lay guage bar. A roll of foil, a frisket bar, and regester pins won’t fit. A few people up here learned that the hard way. the shaft that works the lay guages is very fragil and just the slightist bend wil cause the guages to not work consistantly.
There are some up here that have been run hard since the early 50’s and thy still run. tough to wear out a windmill.

Does anyone have an operators manual for a 10x15 windmill that they can photocopy for me? Please let me know how much you want for it.

Note that I was in the Heidelberg distributor in Canada a few weeks ago, their parts guy mentioned that they will stop supporting the Windmill this year, however, as was mentioned previously, there are lots of parts out there and the press is reliable. Mine was built in 1931.


Jeff is right about doing dumb things around a windmill. One time I was doing a wash up and was cleaning the metal roller (moves back and forth) in front of the ink ductor. I was using a rag and the press was running. My thumb ended up between the roller and the side of the press. It was squeezed down to about an eighth on an inch, and was broken. They put a splint on it. The funny part is that I play banjo and couldn’t use a thumb pick. However the splint had a sharp corner that worked great as a thumb pick! That was probably the best sounding banjo I ever played!

Printing presses are not dangerous. However, operators can be. It is just a machine, any printing press needs to be run very carefully. I have been running Heidlberg windmills for years. I have had some near misses and am vigilant about not taking short cuts when the press is running. I recently watched a video on u-tube and someone was tapping ink on the press when it was running. This is a very bad habit to get into. If the roller grabs the ink knife, you either hold on and get hurt, or it will pull it into the rollers and harm the press. I also remove all jewelry.

“Heidelberg Windmill but I recently heard that they are very dangerous to operate”

I think that is not truth. The windmill grippers work within a area that is covered by a safe; that elliptical or squared metal piece on front of the press with a Heldelberg logo is there for that, just don’t put the head there or your hands on the press while it runs. When putting the chase in, grab it and think when inserting the chase. Maybe washing is a way to accidents, while washing the press don’t use gloves, gloves just for cleaning ink from fountains, the washer blade, nives…
The trick is: have your head with you when operating machinery.

Have fun with your press when you get it.