Patrick Curtin, Director of Product Marketing and Technology
The world of manufacturing is no stranger to the value that elastic products can bring, given its excellent elongation and recovery properties. From domestic textile and apparel to medical textile and industrial clothing, the use of elastic bands, tapes, and threads, is widespread today. Typically, elastic is used for tightening, gripping, and holding of things with ease purposes. However, what can challenge its usability is its friendliness toward human skin. Prolonged use of elastic tapes or threads can make deep creases and red markings on the skin. Addressing this issue is Fulflex, a world’s leading manufacturer of thin-gauge calendered and extruded elastic products.
“With our skin-friendly Comfi-Fit elastic technology, we manufacture thin-gauge elastic tapes and threads for the elastication of a variety of products in textile, medical, industrial, and automotive applications,” says Patrick Curtin, Director of Product Marketing and Technology at Fulflex. The company’s elastic tapes and threads help manufactures improve user experience, optimize the comfort, fit, and performance of their products.
Further, Fulflex caters to areas demanding “critical clean or color applications” by leveraging its custom mix compound capability. The company has the potential to custom mix rubber compounds to deliver ultra-clean pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial mixed and calendered goods to avoid contamination or defects in medical stoppers, hoses, or printing plates. Should the need arise, Fulflex goes the extra mile to convert these products into specific shapes or formats, including calendered sheets or rolls. This allows the company to further ease the conversion of that product into a finished product. Although Fulflex primarily focuses on rubber-based products, it also provides thermoplastic elastomer headbands, identifying the need for staple-free masks in the medical industry.
What makes Fulflex unique is its capability to develop custom products that meet clients’ requirements. With its in-house capabilities to design, develop, and test, Fulflex ensures that a robust product is reaching the clients. The company works with customers to validate product performance even after the product leaves its manufacturing facility. Fulflex is also open to further modifications in the product’s design to align with the ever-changing clients’ needs and legislative mandates.
For example, Fulflex collaborated with a German company specializing in braiding products for leisure and sports applications, to increase the resistance of elastic braids to cyclic stress.
They failed to provide the desired durability to customers with their extruded latex rubber-based products. Understanding the requirements, the team at Fulflex worked closely with the client and tested several specialty elastic recipes based on synthetic Polyisoprene to develop a custom solution, The Perfect Stretch. This solution helped them increase cyclic resistance and elongation while enabling Andreas to capture the market with a novel product.
With our skin-friendly Comfi-Fit elastic technology, we manufacture thin-gauge elastic tapes and threads for the elastication of a variety of products in textile, medical, industrial, and automotive applications
As a global leader, Fulflex exhibits in-built redundancy, allowing it to respond to demand spikes in the market. For example, the company had successfully ramped up to help mask manufacturers respond to the global need for masks during the COVID-19 outbreak. Fulflex ensures quality by deploying automated PLC controls while providing excellent gauge control via bank control automation and feed viscosity controls. The company is equipped with robust filters and multi-step metal detectors to ensure product purity. By incorporating in-built capabilities, such as the pre-stretch inspection process in slitting and providing superior technical and customer service, Fulflex helps clients efficiently build market-ready products with zero downtime. To ensure continuous operation for diaper and mask converting lines, the company adopts an excellent splicing process. Simultaneously, Fulflex’s odor mitigation technology eliminates overwhelming plastic odor, offering a pleasant experience to end-users. Also, the company adheres to safety regulations and uses only the safest ingredients to ensure product stewardship and safety of users.
According to Curtin, the internal nimbleness and aggressiveness that Fulflex possesses as a privately-owned company allows it to have a progressive business development strategy and a comprehensive roadmap. As an initial step towards the future, the company is investing 1000 metric tons of additional capacity at its parent facility India (Garware Bestretch Limited). Fulflex is expanding its product portfolio in the Thermoplastic category and planning to develop biodegradable elastics for a variety of applications. The innovation labs at Fulflex are constantly working to extend its footprints into sports, therapy, lifestyle markets. The company is intending to manufacture specialty roto-cured sheeting from its facility in India and multi-layered calendar laminates for industrial applications from its Vermont facility. “We are always committed to the success of our customers. Therefore, our innovation labs are always active in developing meaningfully unique solutions to exceed our customers’ needs,” concludes Curtin.