Tucked away on an industrial estate in Brunswick, OH, is one of those entrepreneurial companies that so typifies the American notion of ‘can do’. Often described as ‘the coaters’ coater’, AdCal Inc specialises in single and tandem coating with lamination using gravure (direct, reverse or offset), flexo and Mayer Rod techniques, offering contract, custom, pilot and toll services on web widths from 6” to 30” and printing in up to five colors.
Established in 2002 by Adam Stearns and Brian Miller, AdCal quickly developed its niche business supplying markets as diverse as labels for healthcare and electronics to special products for the oil industry and aircraft manufacturer, Boeing. Every product coated in-house is also slit on the premises, and the company’s 12 employees work a single shift five-day week in the firmly held belief that extra capacity should come from technology not more hours.
The need for corona treatment came with the move into coating in 2016, and was responsible for spring boarding growth at AdCal, according Adam Stearns. “We knew that corona treatment would allow us to expand our product range by increasing the number of substrates we could process, especially with water based adhesives,” he explained. In 2008, the company invested in a 30” coating line that allowed it to convert larger orders, and this opened a range of new opportunities.
But it was the recent installation of a custom laminator from nearby South Shore Controls that lead to the investment in Vetaphone corona technology. Designed and built specifically for prototyping and testing of small scale short runs, the new machine is perfect for testing products that can subsequently be scaled up for small batch production. Recently installed, and as such not fully in service, the laminator will typically run 5,000 ft/day across a 7” web width, making it ideal for niche markets where margins are better.
Pressed for the reasons for choosing Vetaphone, Brian Miller commented: “The design is way ahead of anything else and the open design makes access for cleaning and maintenance so simple. We also like the stainless steel backing roller because it eliminates any risk of web contamination, which is vital when you’re trying to run controlled tests.” AdCal also confirmed that Vetaphone was the only manufacturer prepared to guarantee a pinhole-free end product across a range of pre-tested substrates – and this was a big selling point.
Looking ahead, the company is planning to add to its capacity with a wider web (30”) machine capable of 30 ft/min – this too would need performance guarantees. According to Stearns, there is huge opportunity to develop the specialty coating side of the business using the company’s experience and expertise as leverage. “We will continue to focus on the smaller businesses that are regionally located – it’s the best fit for our talent and technology,” he concluded.