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The idea of a flatbed cylinder is today looked upon as one of the defining accomplishments in printing. These machines were able to print much larger sizes of paper and at a far greater speed. The cylinder also pushed machine designs into totally rotary configurations, which made way for even greater speeds. The modern web press (printing from a roll of paper) owes much to the cylinder concept.

Various early developers hold a place in the cylinder’s history, but no one can capture the highest honor of Messrs. Koenig & Bauer. Friedrich Koenig was a printer in Saxony, Germany. He is credited along with his partner, Andreas Bauer, of designing and constructing a press for the Times of London newspaper. It was ironic that the two had to leave Germany to develop their ideas. In 1811, the men received a patent and the industry was never the same. The company these two formed in Germany, Koenig & Bauer, remains today a leading builder and supplier of printing machinery.

The concept of the cylinder, either rotating against another cylinder or over a bed of type, was wide spread, and hundreds of models from the likes of the R. Hoe & Co. to Albert Frankenthal, Miehle, M.A.N, Heidelberg, and Wharfedale played key roles. The cylinder was manufactured well into the 1970’s and still finds favor as a die-cutter. The HIW has several examples of machines spanning the period between1840 and1950.

Cylinder Press - Howard Iron Works Collection

The concept and reasoning behind the cylinder and bed machine was driven by the newspaper. Larger sizes and more pages at a greater speed, became the fundamental reason for developing such a machine.

William Nicholson, an Englishman, patented a crude bed and cylinder design in 1790. Flawed by ineffectual management of his ideas - as Nicholson was not a printer by trade - the concept went nowhere.

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Oakville, ON L6L 5N2

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