Heidelberg Platens

The last let­ter­press work­horse in the UK

It’s these presses that you’ll see in many mod­ern print­ing works.  They have a ver­sat­ile auto­mat­ic feed but the machines are more often used for cut­ting, creas­ing and num­ber­ing than for print­ing.  Second-hand machine often have had their ink­ing equip­ment removed.

The machine uses air suc­tion to pick up paper — con­trast this with the Arab which had no auto­mat­ic feed even for the last machines pro­duced in 1959.  The suc­tion sys­tem uses two arms — one lift­ing paper from the stock while anoth­er draws paper that’s just been prin­ted away from the platen.  This mech­an­ism gives the press the nick­name the ‘wind­mill’.  While the small print­er will use lay gauges to pos­i­tion paper on the platen, dif­fer­ent Heidel­berg mod­els used dif­fer­ent approaches — the paper was held by the wind­mill while prin­ted; or was dropped on to lays on the platen; or was shif­ted in to pos­i­tion by register guides.

Ink­ing is through two forme rollers with an option­al rider roller.  Ink reaches the forme rollers from the duct, via. a duct roller; four rollers and then to the ink­ing drum which reciprocates.

There was a gap in sales dur­ing World War 2, but new Brit­ish machines fol­low­ing the war were sold as ‘Ori­gin­al Heidel­bergs’.  In 1957 the machine cost £1000 and was sup­plied with install­a­tion and a week’s worth of guid­ance from the manufacturer.

In 1958, two mod­els of press were avail­able badged as “Ori­gin­al Heidel­berg” platens.  Their spe­cific­a­tions; along with the 1958 pub­li­city are shown below.

Heidelberg Platen Specifications

Ori­gin­al Heidel­berg 10″ x 15″ Ori­gin­al Heidel­berg 13″ x 18″
Largest Paper Size 10.25″ x 15″ 13.375″ x 18.125″
Smal­lest Paper Size 1.5″ x 2.75″ 3.5″ x 4″
Inside Chase 10.25″ x 13.375″ 12.625″ x 17.75″
Max­im­um Run­ning Speed 5,000 iph 4,000 iph
Floor Space Required 5′8″ x 3′11″ 4′9″ x 6′6″
Power Required 1.1kW / 1.5hp 1.5kW / 2.5hp
Net weight 2,400 lbs 4,600 lbs
Impres­sion­al Strength 40 tons 60 tons

Original Heidelberg 10" x 15"

Heidelberg 10 x 15
Heidel­berg 10 x 15

Original Heidelberg 13" x 18"

Heidelberg Platen (13" x 18")
Heidel­berg Platen (13″ x 18″)