Web Industries Inc. is spending $8 million to expand its Fort Wayne, Ind., film converting operation.
More than half of the investment will be directed to equipment purchases, estimated Web spokesman Blake Phillips in a phone interview. The rest will be spent on a 50,000-square-foot addition due to be completed by the end of the year at its current space of 100,000 square feet.
Key pieces of equipment going into Fort Wayne include two Windmoeller & Hoelscher 8-color flexographic printing presses and new spoolers and slitting machinery. The new equipment will join Web's high-speed, wide-width converting systems to allow efficient printing and conversion under one roof for its consumer packaging customers.
Fort Wayne produces non-woven webs for diapers, adult incontinent products and other hygiene items. Phillips said customers want to print on their products to differentiate them in the fast-growing market for hygiene products, and they want larger spools of Web products for more efficient manufacturing of their finished products. Fort Wayne will boost its number of shifts to three per day for a seven-day week.
The Fort Wayne expansion could add 45 jobs to the site's current employment of 75. Overall, Web employs about 500 and is an employee-owned business. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is offering Web up to $70,000 in tax credits conditional on job creation in Fort Wayne. Wages for the new jobs include $18 an hour for flexographic press operators and $13 an hour for machine operators.
Fort Wayne sources wide plastic film and sheet purchased by end-customers from the merchant market. It then converts them to hygiene products and non-hygiene items like drawstrings inserted into trash bags. Web also converts paper and foil substrates.
Consumer product packagers want multi-color printing, stressed Web Vice President of Corporate Development Kevin Young, in a news release.
"At the same time, they have to control product costs," Young said, adding the expansion "allows us to offer economies of scale that others cannot match."
Web President and CEO Mark Phil lauded Indiana as a place to expand.
"The state's sound fiscal policies and infrastructure investments have created a strong pro-business environment," he noted in a May 18 news release.
Web processes flexible plastics and other materials into a wide array of products.
For medical applications it makes laminated substrates for single-use testing strips. A year ago it started up a new center in Boston dedicated to producing lateral-flow strips for medical diagnostics. Web assembles the strips into hard plastic covers sourced from outside. This type of strip wicks a fluid to be tested from one side of the tester into a test strip on the other side of tester. The testers are suited to urinalysis and other diagnostics.
For wire and cable, Web extrudes a polypropylene "yarn" to wrap around wires keep them separate inside their jacketing. The yarn is extruded in Dayville, Conn., from custom-formulated PP to give properties like fire retardance. This facility also extrudes narrow strips for medical and other markets.
In Suwanee, Ga., Web produces composites and runs a composites automation center to test new carbon-fiber constructions. Web's pre-preg carbon tape business is growing as applications proliferate in aerospace, industrial, automotive and wind-energy sectors.
Web's Denton, Texas, operation makes advanced composites for aerospace, aviation and defense customers in the Texas area.
In Middlesex, Vt., Web makes advanced composites for cryogenic applications.
In Stade, Germany, its only international operation, Web provides composite pre-preg formatting in an operation co-located with a major carbon fiber manufacturer. Aerospace firms are the main customers.
Web celebrated its 45th year in 2014.
"Over that time we've successfully transitioned from slitting commoditized rolled paper goods to high-tech converting and manufacturing services for specialized markets like IVD medical testing and aerospace composites," commented Web's former President and CEO Don Romine in a statement marking the milestone.