Roland Ultra RVU7 is a 4-colour sheetfed printing press that was produced from 1967 to 1981. Our hero’s serial number is 22334, series 414, its weight 43,000 kg. Roland reached Milan from Germany in 1969. For over 30 years it printed art books for a well-known company, GEA, Grafiche Editoriali Ambrosiane. After the company closed, Roland Ultra was the only machine that remained in the complex that currently hosts Assab One. During the 10 years when it was a part of Assab One, Roland witnessed – and occasionally took part in – exhibitions, performances and installations.
The story of the company that used to produce Roland Ultra starts in 1845, when Carl August Reichenbach from Augsburger Druckmaschinenbau delivers the first automatic cylinder press to Nikolaus Hartmann’s printing plant in Augsburg. In 1911 the first Roland sheetfed offset press was built. The company, currently named ManRoland due to a merger in 1979, is based in Offenbach, and is still a leader in the production of sheetfed printing presses. Manroland Sheetfed GmbH is 100% owned by British industrialist Tony Langley, the long-term and strategic investor behind the takeover of the Offenbach sheetfed division together with its 40 subsidiaries, and owner of private engineering group, Langley Holdings plc.
The deal: at the end of 2011, Bharatkumar Gohel e Chinubhai Patel, two Indian gentlemen and businessmen, came to Assab One to inspect Roland Ultra, which they had come across through an Internet search. Bharat and Chinubhay proposal to take Roland to India was accepted only once it was established that the printing machine would once more be put to work, with the understanding that its journey would be monitored until it reached its destination.
Manmad, a city of 72,412 inhabitants in Maharashtra, was the final destination of Roland Ultra’s journey. Starpackers, the cardboard box factory where Roland Ultra has began its new life, is located here.
The production of the exhibition has been partially supported by the many friends who took part in the fundraising game 100 photos for 100 friends, launched in December 2012 and still in progress.
This exhibition would not have been possible without the collaboration of Bharatkumar T. Gohel and Chinubhai Patel from Som International Inc, exporters and importers of Graphic Arts Machinery. We would also like to thank the Khan family, owners of Starpackers, the box factory where Roland Ultra has been put back to work.
Special thanks to Amedeo Martegani, for the gift of his listening and precious advices.