Friday May 25, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Interprint Inc. has invested $2 million to create a new product line that officials say will open a new market for the company's wares.

The new product, marketed under the brand name PremeerTM, is a plastic-based printed decor film made of polypropylene that Interprint plans to sell directly to furniture manufacturers.

Interprint, which designs and prints decorative papers that serve as the design layer for laminate surfaces, has begun manufacturing the new plastic-based film, but plans to officially launch the product at a trade show in Atlanta in August.

Peter Stasiowski, Interprint's director of communications, said the new product is more effective at protecting laminate surfaces from water damage and wear and tear than the current film, which is made of vinyl.

"That's really what the competitive advantage is," Stasiowski said. "The main thing is it protects boards very well compared to vinyl."

Polypropylene, one of the most versatile plastic polymers that exists, is also more environmentally friendly than vinyl, he added.

Most of Interprint's designs are printed on fiber-based paper, but on this product the printing is done right on the polypropylene, which is found in items as diverse as carpets, car parts and reusable containers.

"In this business you always have to be thinking about the future," Stasiowski said. "If our customers are looking for something to replace their vinyl products, and we can figure out a way to print on polypropylene then we can probably figure out how to coat it, too."

Interprint's acting co-director William M. Hines Jr. said the company expects sales of the new film to reach $3 million the first year it's on the market, then increase to $7 million or $8 million. The company's yearly sales are around $50 million, Hines said.

"This is sort of a parallel market to the one we're in," Hines said. "We know the ins and outs of it pretty well."

But the new film will also enhance what Interprint al ready manufactures.

"It gives us a long-range opportunity to bring something new to the market place that's not a commodity," Hines said. "Little by little we're becoming more of a niche business."

Interprint invested $2 million in new equipment to produce the new film. The company built a second story over one of it current printers to house the machine that coats the film, Stasiowski said. The new machine was installed in October, and began running in March.

Interprint, which operates 24 hours a day, has invested $12 million into the $27 million plant on Route 41 that it opened in 2006. The company currently has 140 employees, including 15 that were hired this year. Interprint plans to hire two more employees this year.

"We haven't started looking at 2013 yet," Stasiowski said.