Masterpiece Graphix, a leading manufacturer of specialty substrates for commercial printing, has recently expanded its functional coating research and development center at the company headquarters in St. Louis, Mo. The expansion includes a dedicated laboratory with full coating and drying capabilities which gives Masterpiece Graphix the ability to do coating trials without inhibiting regular production.
This investment is part of the company’s commitment to serve the need in the market for a consultative, problem-solving approach to functional coatings. Functional coatings are used for a variety of purposes including making a material rust-proof, anti-static, tamper evident, textured, printable, insulative, and more.
The new laboratory includes custom-built, scaled-down versions of the four coating application technologies for rolls and sheets of paper or plastic; Flexographic, Myrod, Slot Die, and Gravure/Reverse Gravure, as well as a custom-made machine for drying the coatings.
Masterpiece Graphix has implemented a proven research and development process for coatings. Beginning with a drawdown of the material and the coating, the process includes testing for stickiness, drying and cleaning methods, and chemical reactions. If required, print tests are also performed. A few of the recent successes by the research and development team at Masterpiece Graphix include:
• adding an ink receptive coating to the top of a release coating so that the material is printable and releasable
• developing an anti-static coating which prevents stacked plastic sheets from sticking together and double-feeding
• helping a client figure out the coating application process of a newly acquired product line
Currently, the company’s research and development efforts are focused on several coating projects including UV resistant, hard coat, PVC, and an insulated fire retardant coating that reflects heat.
Managing the company’s research and development initiatives is Product Development Specialist, Danny Welsoh. Combining more than a decade of coating experience and a degree in computer technology, Wesloh provides a unique perspective that not only analyzes and corrects the coating, but also the coating equipment. He built several of the custom machines for the laboratory.
“We like to say that our expertise is ‘putting liquids on stuff’,” Wesloh explains. “What that means is we will try almost anything when it comes to coating. If a customer contacts us with a coating project and we don’t currently have a solution – we will do everything possible to figure it out.”
According to Wesloh, the three largest coating obstacles that customers face are finding the right coating, applying the right coat weight, and drying the coating. He says the flexibility and quick turnaround of Masterpiece Graphix research and development services are not available elsewhere in the market. “Businesses want to find a coating solution and get to production as quickly as possible,” says Wesloh. “Our job is to help them accomplish that goal.”