In a message from his family, we learned that Dr Reinhard Ulbrich passed away at the age of 89. Known as the ‘King of Flexo’ in Europe and Asia, Dr Ulbrich was the business director of DuPont’s Cyrel flexo printing plates division outside the USA, which he set up and developed through the 1980s and 1990s. Those who collaborated with Reinhard in several experimental prepress and printing projects knew him as a warm, generous, and simple guy always eager to share newly acquired knowledge. He played a significant role in the development of flexo printing to the high precision technology it is today.
Joining DuPont at its Mylar film division in Switzerland in the early 1960s, Reinhard became the manager for films in Germany in 1969. After a short spell at DuPont’s corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, he returned to the Photo Products Department in Frankfurt, Germany, and eventually took on the role of business manager for the Cyrel business in 1982.
Flexo printing at that time was very much the stepchild of the printing industry, and DuPont’s flexo plates were all made in the United States. After intensive lobbying, Reinhard persuaded DuPont management to install a new production line for Cyrel plates based in Frankfurt and hired young, enthusiastic printing engineers and sales staff to aggressively grow the business.
The Cyrel ‘Grand Prix’ flexo printing competition, which ran throughout Europe and Asia, was an example of Reinhard’s customer-focused thinking. It brought together flexo printers, platemakers, and brand owners to celebrate excellence in flexographic printing on cartons, flexible packaging and labels. Notable personalities such as astronaut Neil Armstrong graced the events with their presence.
Born in Silesia, then a part of Germany that today belongs to Poland, Reinhard turned his attention east during the 1990s. He focused on growing flexo printing in Russia and Eastern Europe. Even after his retirement from DuPont, he helped introduce flexo printing courses at the Russian Academy of Printing in Moscow, for which he was awarded an honorary doctorate.