Flexo pioneer Dr Reinhard Ulbrich dies at 89

Dr Reinhard Ulbrich, who was instrumental in the success of DuPont’s Cyrel flexo plates in the European market, has died at the age of 89.

The late Dr Reinhard Ulbrich: “universally admired and respected”
The late Dr Reinhard Ulbrich: “universally admired and respected”

Ulbrich joined DuPont’s Mylar film division in Switzerland in the early 1960s, and then progressed up the corporate ladder, moving to Düsseldorf in 1969 as the manager for films in Germany.

After a short spell at DuPont’s US corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, he returned to the Photo Products department in Frankfurt, Germany and became business manager for the Cyrel business in 1982.

He went on to persuade DuPont to set up a new production line for Cyrel plates in Frankfurt and hired a young team to aggressively grow the business

In a tribute, his family said that Ulbrich was widely known throughout the printing and packaging industry around the world and “played a major role in the development of flexo printing from being almost a cottage industry to the high precision printing technique it is today.  Many still regard him as the ‘King of European Flexo’,” they said.

He went on to become business director of DuPont’s Cyrel flexo printing plates division in Europe.

Ulbrich was described as being “universally admired and respected”.

“As a supplier to the industry, he was always ready to listen to his customers’ needs. They loved being with him and he brought warmth and fellowship to the flexo industry. To his many colleagues at DuPont he was a mentor and friend and his staff found him easy to work with. Always full of new ideas, his “customer always comes first attitude” motivated many to find new ways to delight the customer.”

Ralph Bates, currently category manager at HP, but who spent 17 years working at DuPont prior to that, said he remembered Ulbrich from his time at the firm.

“Indeed a sad day and we actually shared this news between many 'ex-DuPonters' as we keep in touch via the ubiquitous WhatsApp. Another influential person in the development of Cyrel and flexo sadly lost,” he said.

Ulbrich is survived by his wife Katrin and his two daughters, Barbara and Caroline.

With large gatherings currently restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, his family, friends and former colleagues are planning to hold a memorial event sometime in the autumn in Frankfurt, to give thanks for his life and achievements.


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