The history of the web offset printing press

Would you have known? – Offset printing, as we know it today, goes back to a walk on a rainy day in 1796. At that time, the German Alois Senefelder noticed a stone on the roadside on which a sheet of paper had appeared, and he had the idea of a completely new, particularly sharp printing process: lithography (Greek lithos = stone, graphein = drawing, writing).

Alois Senefelder made use of the physico-chemical principle of the mutual repulsion of fat and water: a musician by birth, he wrote notes on a flat stone plate with greasy ink, which became water-repellent at these points. He treated the "printing plate" illustrated in this way with a diluted acid, which made the unlabeled areas water-absorbent.


The actual printing process then consisted of three steps:

  1. Moistening the imaged and etched surface with water that was repelled by the image areas and collected at the non-image areas.
  2. Inking with greasy ink which was repelled by the water on the non-image areas and collected at the image areas.
  3. Printing, in which a sheet of paper was placed on it and the ink was transferred by vigorous pressing.

Since printing and non-printing areas of the printing plate lie in the same plane, this printing process is also called planographic printing. And the transfer of the printing ink to an intermediate carrier – usually a rubber blanket – turns flatbed printing into offset printing.



Timeline – the most important milestones of web offset printing in Augsburg

1840 – Foundation of Sander'sche Maschinenfabrik

1844 – Carl Buz and his brother-in-law Carl August Reichenbach take over the management of Sander'sche Maschinenfabrik, which is renamed in C.Reichenbach'sche Maschinenfabrik. 

1845 – Carl August Reichenbach designs his latest printing machine: a high-speed press with rail movement.

1857 – Renamed in Maschinenfabrik Augsburg.

1872 – A complete printing set-up with pressure vessel and steam engine is delivered.

1873 – The first rotary press for newspaper printing in Germany is built in Augsburg.

1879 – The first commercial web press in Europe is built in Augsburg.


1908 – Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG (M.A.N)

1920 – Web offset press New miniature: compact, space-saving press // New on offer: sheetfed-offset presses

1921 – First web offset printing press at the plant in Augsburg

1925 – The largest German rotary press with 15 printing units is designed and built.

1931 – First high-performance rotary press

1947 – Calendar block rotation machine

1951 – Sheet-fed offset press ULTRA-MAN ist built.


1960 – 75 % of the total circulation of all daily newspapers in Germany is produced on presses from Augsburg.

1962 – "The next generation": A new generation of web offset presses is developed – the LITHOMAN series.

1972 – The 16-page ROTOMAN commercial web offset press is produced.

1974 – The first 17-page COLORMAN web offset press with 62 printing units is built, making it the largest web offset press in Europe at the time.

1977 – Market launch of the UNIMAN – the first two-plate wide rotary offset press for newspaper printing on the market.

1979 – M.A.N.-Roland Druckmaschinen AG: Printing press manufacturing is spun off from M.A.N.


1980 – Largest web offset press is delivered to Eastern Europe.

1988 – The largest order in the history of the printing industry, worth over DM 1 billion, is received from News International in February 1988. 

1990 – Introduction of the new control station electronics concept PECOM

1992 – UNISET series // Integration of grapho metronics as a subsidiary

1994 – LITHOMAN with new performance standards

1996 – The 250 meter long GEOMAN is installed in Brazil – the longest newspaper printing press in the world.


1999 – LITHOMAN with web width up to 1980 mm // Start of the global 24/7 TeleSupportCenter

2001 – The COLORMAN XXL, which can process paper webs of up to 2100 millimeters, is introduced.

2004 – The DICOweb, the world's only offset press with integrated imaging and deletion of the printing plate on printing plate sleeves, starts production. 

2003 – Quebecor World places the biggest commercial web offset order to date: 16 LITHOMAN and ROTOMAN presses

2006 – MAN Roland becomes independent.

2007 – Starting the first B2B online shop in the printing industry

2008 – MAN Roland becomes manroland.

2012 – The first COLORMAN e:line is put into operation at Allgäuer Zeitungsverlag in Kempten. With 100,000 copies per hour, it is the fastest newspaper press in its class. // Presentation at DRUPA: new One Touch operating concept (mobile use of touch pads)

2017 – Expansion of the online shop into a B2B online marketplace for the printing press industry

2018 – manroland Goss web systems: merger of manroland web systems and Goss international // Acquisition of GWS Printing Systems // MARKET-X: Expansion of the online platform into a brand-neutral B2B marketplace for mechanical and plant engineering