Muller Martini – a history, which has now lasted for over 70 years

A system that started with cardboard and wooden boxes developed sixty years later into a unique total system for digital book production systems allowing beautiful books to be produced from a PDF file in a matter of minutes. Muller Martini recognizes market trends early, and is a convincing, innovative global player in the graphic design industry due to its high level of technical competence.

The 40's - From Cardboard and Wooden Boxes to the Graphic Arts Industry

The Müller and Ruf general partnership is founded on April 1, 1946.Its subsequent breakup results in the formation of the private company Hans Müller Maschinenfabrik in 1947. The original factory today contains the company's Sunflower children's' day-care facility.

The 50's - "Flying Stitching Heads" Revolutionize Saddle Stitching

1950 Hans Müller designs the first saddle stitcher with automatic signature feeders.

Four years later the world's first fully automatic brochure saddle stitcher, the BSV (4,000 cycles/h) follows, For the first time, it combines feeder, stitching machine and three-knife trimmer. Hans Müller's groundbreaking "flying stitching heads" patent for synchronized stitching heads enables stitching without "stop and go" – technology which is first used in 1956.

The first perfect binding system for emulsion glue, the RB-2 rotary binder (3,000 cycles/h) also comes on the market in 1954. Its successor, the RB-5 rotary binder, is introduced in 1962. It boasts a performance of 5,000 cycles/h and a hotmelt processing option. By 1986 around 1,000 rotary binder units have been produced.

Grapha purchases the majority shareholding in Martini Buchbindereimaschinenfabrik AG, Felben in 1969.

On June 19, 1956 the organization is converted into a stock company called Grapha Maschinenfabrik Hans Müller AG.

The 60's - Increased Circulation Demands Increasingly Efficient Production Systems

Increases in the run sizes of leading magazines in the 1960s put increasingly high demands on production capacity. The company's answer to this is the development of the new JG saddle stitching range in three models from 1958. The JG generation contributes greatly to Grapha’s position as the market leader, with over 2,000 units being produced in the 1970s. The European market share for saddle stitchers is over 90 percent.

The page counts and run sizes of magazines grow significantly in the 1960s, and perfect binding is increasingly favored. The Jet-Binder perfect binding system, designed for large runs, exceeds the 10,000 cycles/h mark.

In 1964 Graph AG Maschinen (today Muller Martini Electronic AG) is established in Zofingen, Switzerland, and plays an anticipatory role in the electronification of systems. 1966 sees the establishment of the first manufacturing company abroad, Maschinenfabrik Grapha GmbH (today Muller Martini Printing Presses GmbH), in Maulburg, Germany.

Grapha purchases the majority shareholding in Martini Buchbindereimaschinenfabrik AG, Felben in 1969.

In 1970 Maschinenfabrik Hasle AG is founded in the Entlebuch municipality in the canton of Lucerne. Now known as Muller Martini Machines & Systems AG, it is the training center for sheet manufacturing for all Muller Martini systems, and one of the most modern sheet processing operations in Switzerland.

Production is not the only thing to increase; Grapha also progressively develops foreign markets with sales organizations in Spain, the USA and France.

The 70's - New Quantum Leaps for Saddle Stitching and Adhesive Binding

With the new 221/235 saddle stitcher generation that boasts a performance of 12,000 cycles/h once again Muller Martini surpasses its competitors. It goes into serieal production in 1970/71. For the first time ever, it was possible for a card gluer to glue cards in a precise location to appeal to consumers and to apply merchandise samples.

The Normbinder SF introduced in 1976 with a performance of 18,000 cycles/h is the fastest perfect binder in the world at the time.

From 1970, the company makes further inroads into a new market with the Grapha business forms printing press. Grapha printing presses establish a good reputation thanks to excellent printing quality using wet offset printing, easily exchangeable printing inserts, consistently modular design, and a range of finishing options. It does not take long before flight tickets, advertising copy, lottery tickets, and a wide range of other materials are being printed.

In 1971 Grapha Holdings is founded in Hergiswil, Switzerland, and is the new holding company of the organization, which has in the meantime grown into a group of companies.

Internal sales and service branches are established in Great Britain (1971), Austria (1973), and Japan (1974), and a sales agency is acquired in Italy in 1979.

Increasingly powerful printing presses also mean an increase in the demands on paper handling. Launching the first bundle Stacker Feeder in 1975 marks the beginning of the press delivery systems business segment.

The 80's - Efficient Buffer Systems Increase Printing Press Capacity Utilization

The PrintRoll system launched in 1983 can accommodate up to 500,000 magazine pages per roll for intermediate storage. The FlexiRoll (1995) operates with variable roll diameters. Both systems are highly streamlined.

In the mailroom segment, the automatic mailroom system (AVS) unites a whole range of machines and systems that control the entire mailing process, from printing press to truck. The heart of the system is an electronic guide and control system.

In 1990, The New York Times commissions the world's first and to this day largest automated PrintRoll storage system at its printing center in Edison. More than 1,000 rolls are used for intermediate storage of materials pre-printed from Tuesday onwards for publication in the legendary Sunday edition. This is one of the most significant orders in Muller Martini’s history.

The group becomes increasingly internationally focused in the 1980s when the proportion of exports rises above 90 percent. A sales agency is acquired in Belgium in 1982 (today, Muller Martini Belgium), and branches are established in Sweden (1983), Canada (1985), and Denmark (1986).

The 90's - Automatic Adjustment Systems Allow More Flexible Production

At drupa 1990, Muller Martini presents the first selective binding system for producing magazines and catalogs for specific target groups. Circulation splits were initially only used in the US, but have since become indispensable worldwide in the marketing mix

On April 1, 1991 Hans Müller hands over the reins to his two sons Rudolf Müller and Hans Müller-Meier.

The worldwide sales network is further extended in North and Eastern Europe, Asia and South America in the 1990s.

The machine portfolio is topped off by the acquisition of Graphic Management Association Inc. (GMA) in Allentown, USA, the market leader at the time for inserting machines and mailroom equipment (later Muller Martini Mailroom Systems, Inc.).

The acquisition of VBF Buchtechnologie GmbH in 1998 further extends Muller Martini's claim to a comprehensive print finishing portfolio. Muller Martini Book Technology GmbH in Bad Mergentheim, Germany, today serves as a training center for complete systems for hardcover production.

The 2000's - A New Generation of Machines Even for Small Print Runs

Muller Martini sets up additional branches in Portugal and Russia (2000), and in the Netherlands (2001).

Muller Martini opens an assembly plant in the Chinese city of Shenzhen in 2000. In the first years of operation, the plant produces saddle stitchers and perfect binders solely for the Chinese market. The machines produced there are also delivered worldwide as of 2015.

The standards for print products rise: there is the call for shorter runs, customization and topicality going with lower costs. Muller Martini meets this challenge in 2004 by introducing the SigmaLine – a unique total solution for industrial digital book production. The SigmaLine links all processes from pre-press through digital printing to print finishing, enabling fully automated production in a single pass.

The ProLiner inserting system, first introduced in 2007, is designed to meet the individual requirements of newspaper operations of all sizes. The system caters to complex mailroom requirements such as zoning and regionalization, as well as the growing number of preprinted sections and inserts.

The trend towards digital networking of individual production steps continues to be unstoppable and CIP4 is established as a standard. The Connex data and process management system allows all Muller Martini systems from individual machines to complex production lines to be networked with a customer's Management Information System (MIS).

The new generation of Muller Martini machines, presented at drupa 2008 for the first time, encompasses numerous technical innovations and a completely reworked, modern design.

In 2009 Muller Martini acquires the patent for the VSOP web printing press from Drent Goebel. In 20015 the production plant in Maulburg (Germany) is closed down and the Muller Martini Druckmaschinen GmbH is transferred into a service organization.

In May 2009 former CEO Rudolf Müller assumes the position of president of the board of directors, which he had been a member of for 18 years. The new CEO, Bruno Müller, has worked at various companies within the Muller Martini Group for some 20 years, including in the US.

The 2010's - New Solutions for New Markets

Ipex 2010 sees the unveiling of Muller Martini’s global service offering, MMServices. The globally standardized and recently expanded life cycle management program provides customers anincreased investment security.

In order to take advantage of synergy effects and to offer customers optimal, customized solutions, Muller Martini enters into cooperation agreements with RIMA Systems and SITMA. Additional strategic partners are Solema and MBO (on selected markets).

The Diamant MC bookline captures the booming photo book market thanks to digital technology.

The Alegro perfect binder satisfies the high requirements in offset and digital printing with innovative Motion Control Technology. All systems presented at drupa 2012 are “digital ready”.

In Zofingen a new, central Spare Parts Center is set up to supply the European markets. The new logistic center with more than 110,000 parts guarantees an availability of more than 90 percent.

Hans Müller, a pioneer of the graphic arts industry who remains closely linked with the company even into his advanced years, dies at the age of 96. The company founder is remembered not only as a brilliant engineer, but also as a kind and generous leader. At the same time the company restructures to adapt to major market changes in the graphic arts industry. The sales and service companies are merged globally into regions. The company now focuses on its main competences PostPress and Services. In 2014 it takes over service responsibility for Heidelberg saddle sticher and perfect binder.

In order to strengthen its market position and serve customers even better in the long term with innovative solutions, Muller Martini is taking over Kolbus' bookbinding business in 2018 and expanding its product portfolio to include Kolbus brand machines.

The 2020's - We support the digital transformation of our customers

The digital transformation is also advancing in the graphic arts industry. Muller Martini is establishing itself as a specialist for smart factories that produce successfully for customers worldwide. We find the perfect workflow for every operation and make it fit for the digital world.

In May 2022, company owner Rudolf Müller handed over the leadership of the Board of Directors of Muller Martini Holding AG to long-time Board member Martin Wipfli, but remains a member of the Board.

Muller Martini ignites the next stage of MMServices with Smart Services and uses digital tools that allow customers to monitor the condition of the machine, for example. The MPOWER customer portal with integrated eShop is providing simple and secure access to selected services.