MSC Specialty Films reaches success down to the core

In order to provide customers with just what its name promises, MSC Specialty Films needed the right core supplier. Star Paper Tube's new StarTech Div. filled the bill perfectly.

Ray Dickerson, project coordinator for MSC Specialty Films Inc., says it's a good feeling now that the San Diego, CA-based company is in charge of its own destiny. He is referring both to the recent acquisition history that created the company, as well as the discovery of a core supplier - Star Paper Tube - that provides customization, cost savings, and excellent service.

The history: Solar Gard International was the exclusive independent film distributor for Deposition Technologies Inc. (DTI), a producer of window film products. In September 1995 DTI acquired Solar Gard and formed MSC Specialty Films, a producer of high-performance solar and safety window films, lighting reflectors, security films, and microwave packaging products.

According to Dickerson, "We are really in charge of our own destiny now, because we manufacture the film, market it, and distribute it."

MSC's operation includes metallizing, coating, and laminating, as well as slitting and finishing processes. The company runs polyester, polypropylene, polyimide, and metal foils for window films as well as for industrial applications that include security, tamper-evident, electronic, microwave susceptors, military, and a number of proprietary applications utilizing passive and reactive multilayer sputtering techniques. Substrates are supplied by DuPont, Hoechst Diafoil, ICI, and American Biltrite.

MSC operates a BOC Coating Technologies rotatable cathode, 65-in.-wide sputter metallizer capable of speeds to 1,500 fpm. Two proprietary coaters feature automatic splicing, fiber-optically linked drive packages, laser inspection, and ultraviolet coating capability.

Off-line slitting is done in a separate department. "We have a variety of Stanford machines, and our latest addition is our brand new combination slitter/rewinder/dry laminator from Delta Converting," says Dickerson, who adds that the slitting/inspection and coating/laminating areas operate in a cleanroom environment.

Cost-Competitive, Custom Cores

As a unique company, MSC was looking for a core supplier that would respond to its individual needs. This is where Star Paper Tube came into the picture. With a new product line (started about a year ago) called StarTech, Star Paper Tube is in a position to supply companies like MSC with sophisticated winding cores.

Dickerson reports that StarTech has given them an extremely cost-competitive core. "There is no set-up charge with Star. They are fast-reacting and flexible."

StarTech has set up an in-house stocking plan for MSC in which StarTech stocks the three basic cores that MSC purchases from them-ST-50 6-in. cores in both thick and thin walls and 10-in. cores. Delivery time is five days by standard truck.

"One of the superior features of the StarTech line," says Dickerson, "is their customer service and technical support. "Barry DeHoney, who runs the operation, spent a total of about a week at our facility in the past six to eight months. He was learning exactly what our needs are, what's important to us, and what features we're looking for, and he was experimenting with different core surfaces. If we dictate something to him, and if his equipment has that capability, he'll do it for us. Core surface finish, cleanliness, and concentricity are all major product quality concerns for us. Pricing, delivery, and custom stocking plans also played a key role in incorporating StarTech in our core inventory. We've been using ST-50s for about six months, posting excellent results."

Dickerson adds that StarTech has been helpful in putting MSC Specialty Films in touch with recycling facilities, such as paper depulpers, that allow MSC to recycle the cores. They have also suggested a refinishing program in which the cores can be sent to have a refinished surface put on at a cost savings to MSC. "They have a lot of ideas that we'll be exploring in the near future," Dickerson notes, "which will help us be both cost-conscious and conscious of the environment."

One of the environmental issues surrounding cores is that many of them end up in the waste disposal stream, Dickerson explains. Phenolic resin-type cores don't readily break down. Also, the cores can't be sent to a cardboard recycler without first grinding off the phenolic resin, which is an additional cost.

Star Paper Tube has developed proprietary surface coatings that are extremely smooth. "For our processes, the ultra-smooth coatings are imperative," says Dickerson. "Solar control and safety window films are very sensitive products to wind, because any sort of core impression can result in hundreds of feet of defective film." He adds that the unique surface characteristics of the StarTech core also permits repeated removal and positioning of adhesive tapes. "If there is a core start problem, it can be quickly remedied without having to dispose of a core."

Keeping Up the Good Work

Quality control is crucial to MSC Specialty Films. They have computer-based quality improvement systems, and they are heavily involved in the Crosby quality improvement program, which has been implemented throughout the company. MSC is working toward becoming ISO-certified this September.

Dickerson says MSC Specialty Film's sophisticated research and development team helped them win the 1994 and 1995 Technology of the Year award from the Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (the first time that a company has won the award two times). The 1995 winning entry was sputtered Quantum[R] solar control film, said to have the appearance of grey/dyed films but the superior performance characteristics of sputter metallized film. "Dyed films eventually fade, but the Quantum film won't," according to Dickerson.

MSC Specialty Films is pursuing international markets, including Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia, in an aggressive growth plan. They're also pursuing product diversification in the industrial arena with products that include microwave packaging, security films, and proprietary sputter coated functional films for electronics and military applications.

Dickerson knows that industry trends require higher product quality and greater customer satisfaction, as well as higher production efficiencies. "The bar gets raised every year with regard to the quality of window films and what people expect them to look like, how they expect them to perform, and the types of warranties and guarantees they expect."

MSC Specialty Films is on track toward meeting all of its expectations - with a rapidly growing business, control over the growth of its distribution network, and a core supplier that meets their unique needs.


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