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NFI: Industrial Printing Without Limits

(October 2006) posted on Sun Oct 15, 2006

Take a look inside Nameplates for Industry, a screen-printing shop that has served the North American industrial-graphics market for more than 20 years.

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By Lori Leaman

Nameplates for Industry, Inc. (NFI) opened up shop in New Bedford, MA in 1975 with one employee, Donald Rudnick, and a box of sample products from parent company Nameplates for Industry Ltd., located on the Isle of Wight in England. The British operation was a small company that offered nameplates, faceplates, keypad overlays, and other industrial products. It established the US branch to serve as a sales arm in territories abroad.

During that time, the company's headquarters involved itself in second-surface printing, which involved printing on the underside of clear plastic film so that the film could display a graphic while covering and protecting the print. The European screen-printing industry took notice of the process when General Electric introduced Lexan film and promoted the concept of second-surface graphics as an alternative to traditional metal nameplates and overlaminated products.

Rudnick's goal was to generate sales in the US for the products that NFI offered in the European market. Rudnick spent the next seven years securing a large enough customer base to open a shop that could support the manufacturing process for those products. In 1983, NFI's 5000-sq-ft facility opened with six employees, one clamshell screen-printing press, and a 60-year-old diecutting machine.

With its equipment and staff, the young company began to produce self-adhesive faceplates, nameplates, serial-number tags, and UL markings. Its customers were companies that manufactured commercial equipment, medical devices, appliances, computers, industrial instrumentation, and communication equipment, among others.

Building up for production

NFI has always believed in striving for high quality in all aspects of production, and prepress is no exception. The company invested in state-of-the-art screenmaking, screen-stretching, and exposure equipment from the beginning. "I was taught that you can give a great printer a substandard screen, and you'd never get a good print," Rudnick says. "But if you give a great screen to a marginal printer, you can end up with a great print job."

NFI later purchased a Kiwomat automatic screen-coating machine. Rudnick says he was interested in the idea of an automatic machine that could produce consistent, thin-film coatings on high-thread-count screens. With the company's purchase of the automatic coater, he says, came the opportunity to master halftones and four-color-process printing at finer and finer resolutions.


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