The Problem Solvers
Faustel is a privately held solutions provider for coating and laminating equipment that process paper, film, foil, and non-woven materials (nonwovens is a special category of fabric-like materials made by tangling fibers into a web rather than weaving). The company has also developed equipment to work with exotic materials such as carbon fiber.
Technically, the company is a manufacturer of equipment that enables the operator to coat and laminate these materials, but according to Vice President of Technical Sales and Marketing Chris Clark, Faustel is more than a manufacturer. “We like to be able to become a problem solver for the customer, helping them come up with innovative and cost effective solutions.”
The company was founded in 1956 by Everett Faulls and Walter Stelling, two engineers from Wisconsin who combined their surnames to create the company name Faustel. In the beginning, the company was primarily engaged in printing and coating for the flexible packaging industry.
Much of the technology used in flexible packaging was developed in Wisconsin in a place commonly known in the industry as the Converting Corridor, between Milwaukee and Green Bay, where many of the raw material and equipment suppliers and converting operations are situated.
Companies at the time were developing various innovative packaging materials, and Faustel found a niche by developing equipment to coat and laminate those materials. The business evolved, and now the company mainly manufactures equipment designed to perform web handling processes such as coating, laminating, unwinding, and rewinding. ‘Web’ is the industry term for the long, thin, flexible materials – foils and paper, for example – that are processed by the company.
The business has gone through many phases during which particular product categories were the primary sales driver. It began with flexible packaging. Then, pressure-sensitive, adhesive labeling brought in most of the business. The window and safety film markets soon began to expand rapidly. Faustel adapted, and the company’s sales reflected the growth of that technology.
Today, the company’s primary focus is on newer materials and products for a diverse collection of various markets. Products include lithium ion batteries, reverse osmosis filters, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and more. As Faustel’s client base evolves, the company’s expertise enables the team to adjust.
The company’s headquarters is in the United States, in Germantown, Wisconsin, while it also has a facility in Xiamen, China which was started up in 2005. All of the engineering and sales efforts are done in the United States, but there are manufacturing operations in both locations. The facility in China is a Wholly-Owned Foreign Enterprise (WOFE), meaning that there is no governmental or third-party ownership, Faustel owns one hundred percent of the company, and that facility operates identically to the U.S. operation with employees who were trained in the United States.
“We don’t re-engineer when we build in China. We use a worldwide standard. That way, if we choose to be flexible and manufacture some parts of a machine in China and some in the U.S., we can bring them together,” says Clark, “and it’s a seamless integration, because the practices and components we use are all the same.”
Faustel is a dynamic business. The customer base and products are diverse, and so every day is different, and flexibility has been vital to the company’s success. The company has a development facility that it calls the Technology Center that allows customers to run trials to help develop current products and processes and build new ones for their operation.
From work being done in the Technology Center, Faustel can gather critical information that it can apply to the design of new machinery. The discovery process is very useful from an engineering standpoint because everyone involved is learning and helping to develop new methodologies to make the customer’s product successful and to make the equipment the best that it can be for the application.
The compact size of the company allows for a very interactive and collaborative process. Through the development process, into the engineering phase, and all the way to manufacturing, Faustel is committed to teamwork and clear communication. Because of this culture of collaboration, the company has developed a very stable workforce and understands the value of taking care of its employees. Safety is an integral component of the success of the company, and this means providing products that are safe for its customers to operate and having a safe work environment for its workers.
This year, Faustel’s TecMaster R&D Coater Laminator won an AIMCAL Technical Excellence Award. This product is designed to assist in the early stages of product development. It is a small-scale machine that allows the operator to run coating trials on a product and easily make adjustments to find the right coating configurations for the material. Ultimately, the value in the TecMaster machine is that it reduces the time and cost of bringing a project from the bench-top to manufacturing a finalized product.
The Association of International Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators (AIMCAL) is a strategic organization in terms of promoting the development of technology and collaboration between companies to help overall industry growth. The company is an active member. AIMCAL has an annual awards ceremony at which it recognizes innovative technologies in the industry, and this year, Faustel was recognized among the winners.
The company mission is to be a customer-focused company dedicated to supplying innovative, high-quality products for the converting industry. A clear line of communication between the team of experts at Faustel and the client is an important component of the company’s operation.
Listening to the customers’ needs and adapting to them is how it sets itself apart from the competition. Where some companies will try to fit the customer’s request to a product they already have, Faustel will custom engineer a solution for the project’s specific needs.
“We take the customer’s requests and help them develop the best solution possible by using what we know is reliable, efficient and cost effective and translating that into a machine that fits what they’re looking to do.” says Clark.
The company is a complete custom solutions provider. It helps the customer with everything from the early trial phase to the development of a custom machine, the installation of the equipment, and then service long into the future. Some companies will help a customer through trials but might not design and build custom equipment; others will design and build but might not have the capability to help with development and trial work. Faustel is unique in providing a total package.
The company has some highly-innovative patented technologies. One example is PerfectStart, a distinctive no-fold winding technology. Web materials are wound around cylindrical cores in a process that is similar to how a carpet is wound around a carpet roll. Winding equipment winds material onto multiple cores one after another. As one core finishes and a new one is swapped in, the equipment has to splice the material. The common problem is that once the material is spliced, the leading edge can fold back and, as the winding continues, it will wind over the folds, and the bumps in those folds will propagate through the roll creating defects in every layer. Those small defects at the core of the roll can ultimately cause the entire roll of material to be scrapped.
For projects that need to produce optical quality material, this is a major problem. PerfectStart allows the equipment to move from one core to the next without creating the fold back, eliminating winding defects and resulting in perfect quality rolls. The system can swap cores at full speed, where most systems have to be slowed during the transfer. The technology is incredibly refined and capable of cutting everything from very sensitive materials, such as foils and thin films, to very thick materials like heavy laminates of multiple plies.
Faustel’s varied line of equipment handles a wide array of materials of any size at any speed. It has equipment that deals with very narrow webs of 150 millimeters wide up to machines four meters wide. It has built machines that operate at speeds of few feet a minute and ones that can run at three thousand feet per minute. Whatever the need, Faustel has the experience and the expertise to engineer a solution.