Commonwealth Laminating & Coating Inc. more than doubled its capacity for window films with the recent start-up of a $6 million laminating/coating line and clean room.
The Martinsville, Va., firm expects its sales will increase by 60 percent or more, to about $22 million this year as the firm's new line, its second, fills a growing list of orders for specialty window films and safety films.
Commonwealth, and the new line's supplier, Black Clawson Converting Machinery Inc. of Fulton, N.Y., boast of several features they claim make it the most advanced window film line in operation.
The tandem coater/laminator has two in-line coating stages for higher yield, throughput and product quality. Automatic splicers for both unwind and rewind functions enable continuous operation at up to 250 feet per minute for the 74-inch-wide line. Other features include Black Clawson's Integrator II supervisory control system, a Fusion UV Systems curing operation, a Eurotherm Drives AC vector drive and two advanced Megtec drying systems with a thermal oxidizer to cut down on air emissions.
Commonwealth President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Phillips said the new line is not yet running at capacity, giving the company room to grow its global sales to $50 million in three to five years. The new system is running 24 hours a day six days a week at less than top speed. Commonwealth continues to run its original window film line, a 60-inch-wide older system.
Phillips said window film production is a knowledge- and capital-intensive business.
``The entry barrier to the business is high,'' he explained in a telephone interview. ``No one person has all the know-how.''
He said his firm's Martinsville plant competes with about a half dozen other factories in North America and perhaps as many as 10 overseas. The new line is so efficient Commonwealth is able to sell films into China and Taiwan that have domestic production at low wage rates, Phillips said.
The new line took about a year for Commonwealth and Black Clawson engineers to design and another year to install it. Commonwealth buys a range of PET and other films and coatings. Its SunTek films are variously required to block UV light and glare, reduce solar heat buildup and prevent shattering. They must be aesthetically pleasing, long lasting and easy to install. Commonwealth also does some custom film coating for nonwindow applications, such as clear, solvent-based coatings on PET film.
Phillips joined Commonwealth about 51/2 years ago when it was a struggling enterprise with annual sales of only $150,000. He became one of the company's principal investors. The company recently was honored as one of Virginia's 50 fastest-growing companies by the state Chamber of Commerce.