Converter Stands Up To Goliath with New Press
A Flexo press from Bell-Mark makes a large
contribution to Filmex Corp., a small specialty tape converter.
If you're talking about being a car, we'd fit in their glove compartment. That's how Ron Abendroth, president of Filmex Corp., describe his only competitor. His company whose sole product is polyester identification marking tape, may be small, but it's wiry. But then so are are its customers. Filmex Corp., Warren,RI is a family-owned converter with just ten employees that produces polyester ID marking tape for the wire and cable industry. (The tape concealed inside the wire manufacturer, which is required by United Laboratories in case of fire or other problems with the line.)
Filmex's only competitor is a conglomerate with $100 million in annual sales. It may be a modern-day match up of David and Goliath, but in the case, both companies are winners.
are only two places they can go," he says of wire and cable
manufacturer, "but that's not why they come here. The reason
our customers come to us, as opposed to our competitor-and
they're a fine company-is because this is all we do. We're
specialists. So, in many cases somebody can call me at eight
in the morning, and FedEx is taking the package away by two
in the afternoon." Filmex recently increased its production
and reduced delivery times with the installation of a custom-engineered
Flexographic printer that Abendroth says runs
four times faster than its other equipment. The stand-alone
printhead can convert 1-mil films as narrow as 3/64 in. at
speeds to 800 fpm.
BROADENING THE CUSTOMER BASE
Abendroth reports that the new press has not only allowed
Filmex to serve existing companies more efficiently, but it
also is helping the company attract new customers that require
Goliath-sized capabilities. "We have some accounts that take
large quantities, millions of feet, and we were limited to
certain speeds." The Bell-Mark press typically prints on eight
different strands of narrow tape after it has been slit. As
different difficult as that process might seem, registration
fortunately isn't a problem since the type is in a single
color, says Abendroth. "The only registration concern would
be that you can't have the type half on and half off the tape"
Even printing on such a narrow width is no problem, notes
Abendroth with a laugh, "It might be difficult for some, but
it's all we do. For us, it's simply guiding it to keep it
straight, and once the machine is adjusted, the Bell-Mark
holds the line, and it just goes."
The company's six other presses were built in-house, largely
because there no commercially available presses that could
print on tape with dimensions no longer than 3/16 in. Abendroth
recalls, "I saw an ad for a Bell-Mark press that was printing
on strapping for packaging, and I thought, "Wow, that's similar
to what we do." Anybody else you talk to about a machine like
this looks at you like you have two heads. Nobody had seen
[wire and cable ID tape], nobody had heard of it, nobody could
He faxed a hand drawing of how he needed a printer to operate
to Bell-Mark's Converting Div. manager Jim Accuosti, who assured
him the 12-in wide Bell-Mark unit could be adapted to print
narrow ID tape. Plus, the one-color machine also is ideal
for Filmex because it prints the required letters, dots, and
dashes on ID tapes in 12 different colors-but only one color
at a time. "It was a great experience working with Bell-Mark,"
says Abendroth. "They gave me a ship date, and my experience
with machine companies is that they are always late. With
Bell-Mark, it arrived on the date it was supposed to be shipped,
and the equipment has been flawless. It's just been a great
BETTER INK LAYDOWN
Abendroth credits the laser-engraved anilox roll and doctor
blade system, also from Bell-Mark, as true money
saver. He explains that that the anilox itself was a "big
improvement, since it controls ink flow and laydown better
than previous systems. That not only saves money by applying
a much thinner layer of ink, but it also allows much greater
from Flint Ink. Says Abendroth. "We had a roll-over-roll system
before, and you'd reach a certain point and the ink would
fly all over the place. It greatly limited what we could do,
but this press doesn't. It's really helped make us more competitive."
And possibly brought it one step closer to defeating Goliath.
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