Let me start by a qualifying statement. I am not German, I simply state a fact. I have worked on the following equipment: Goss, Mitsubishi, Heidelberg, Man Roland, Harris, Miller, and News King. Some of those presses I am more proud to have worked on than others simply because of the quality of how they were made. So there is something that must define why Germany continues to dominate the printing industry since the days of Gutenberg. Here are some reasons to consider.
1. History. Gutenberg was of course German. Somehow it is still in the roots of the German psyche to print. Starting from Gutenbergs press in Mainze, Germany, printing spread throughout Europe and to the rest of the world. Notably, it was not inventors from other countries that came up with similar inventions (though this can be debated), but rather Germans travelled to other countries and introduced the idea. German innovation spreads in the same way today.
2. Innovation. Take a look at many of the modern patents related to offset printing presses. A good many of them are held by either Man Roland or Heidelberg. Innovation spiked of course with Gutenberg, but has not let up since then. I think two of the most innovative components of offset presses in the last 20 years have been shaftless presses and gapless printing. I personally do not credit Goss with gapless innovation as it was in my opinion handed to them by Heidelberg. An example that shows that Germany seems to maintain its dominant market share by means of innovation.
3. Market share. Between these three press manufacturers KBA, Man Roland, and Heidelberg, the world market is cornered. Heidelberg alone controls 47% of the world market and is the largest manufacturer of presses worldwide. Lets be honest, 47% of all printers in the world can't be wrong, right?
4. Service. I have helped install three presses purchased new from Heidelberg and Man Roland. In all instances, the service was second to none. USA Press manufacturer Goss has made many improvements to it's service. I only remember dealing with Goss more than 10 years ago and in my opinion, the service was mediocre. German manufacturers however have proved dominant in this area and kept offset printing press buyers coming back for more.
Japan (Komori) and Switzerland (Wifag) have produced some good presses, but Germany seems to maintain that dominant edge for offset printers. Though a little more expensive, some of this equipment can be picked up used for a decent price. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment speak your mind.