For textile manufacturers, the Wilflex name has been synonymous with high-quality screen printing inks and service since the company formed in the 1960s in Marietta, GA. Throughout the years, the company has been at the forefront of numerous innovations.
Wilflex is now a key part of PolyOne Corporation, a $2.2 billion polymer services company, but there has been no change in its focus on providing textile manufacturers with the newest products it needs to compete in the marketplace.
“Wilflex provided inks for the textile industry as part of the Flexible Products Company back in the 1960s, and it became known as the first textile ink company to commercialize ink for garments,” said Chris Pluck, product manager for PolyOne Corporation, who joined Wilflex in 1993. “In the 1960s, Wilflex opened subsidiaries in the UK and Australia, and the business really flourished. In 1998, Geon acquired Wilflex and Plast-O-Meric, a leading screen printing ink company located in Wisconsin. Geon was a leading PVC vinyl producer, and acquired Wilflex as a way to provide value to its customers.”
In September 2000, Geon merged with M.A. Hanna and formed PolyOne, which became one of the world’s largest polymer services companies. That emphasis on service is ideal for the Wilflex team, which focuses on total ink-room management, from providing inks or bases and dispensing systems, which Wilflex introduced to the market many years ago, to color matching systems and ink room management software.
“Our principal business areas are color matching systems, where we can supply finished pigments or colors, general purpose inks, bases, white inks and special effect inks,” Mr. Pluck said.
Providing color is a major aspect of PolyOne’s business.
“We can either manufacture finished inks or bases, in sizes ranging from a quart to a tote, and also offer a wide range of additives that will allow our customers to customize the characteristics of their inks,” Mr. Pluck said.
Specialty inks are an area that Wilflex excels in, with new inks offering textile manufacturers the ability to simulate textures.
“Specialty inks have absolutely kept the marketplace alive,” Mr. Pluck said. “We have a wide variety of new products, special effects and textured inks that come under Wilflex’s first base programs.
“Customers demand texture,” Mr. Pluck said. “I have always said there are as many textures as there are colors, and I would say that we have a long way to go in textures. We now have textures that simulate the finish of suede, leather, glass and so much more.”
Wilflex liquid silver ink and Wilflex bubble-stretch base, both for textile screen printers, are two recent additions to the Wilflex brand of specialty inks that showcase the company’s capabilities.
Wilflex liquid silver is an opaque silver shine ink, and Wilflex bubble stretch is an ink base that creates an opaque, textured and highly stretchable surface. When cured, Wilflex bubble stretch features a semi-gloss finish embedded with tiny craters. In addition, the base can result in a stronger ink, and the finish appears embossed. The liquid silver ink and bubble-stretch base can be used alone or with pigment concentrates to create textured, metallic finishes and custom colors.
Mr. Pluck said working with textile manufacturers and fashion designers is a fascinating business.
“We work with fashion coordinators, and our inks appear on all types of apparel,” Mr. Pluck said. “It’s a demanding field, but it is very exciting.”