Mactac manufactures pressure-sensitive adhesive materials for various markets, including labels, graphic design, packaging, automotive, and medical device assembly. Founded in 1959 as Morgan Adhesives Co., the company now has operations in the United States and Mexico. Its parent company is LINTEC.

ASI visited with Steve Schroff, a Mactac business development manager, to learn the key to the company’s success, how the company is managing its growth, and the unique challenges of formulating adhesives for medical applications. 


ASI: To what do you attribute Mactac’s success, especially considering the challenges the adhesives industry has faced the last few years?

Schroff: I think overall, it comes down to the people. It starts at the top with the management team, the leadership. They have really done a great job of setting us on course, keeping us there, and removing roadblocks when individual people run into them. That allows us to do our jobs. We run pretty lean at Mactac, so every person has to wear multiple hats. And I would say that we have a lot of very good, capable people who are able to do a lot of things and turn it around very, very fast.

Another things is that although we are getting bigger and bigger, but we still act like a small company. So, we are able to pivot and turn and make adjustments really quickly. We are able to complete projects in timeframes that most companies are still trying to form a project team. And so, that comes back to the people and the whole strategy and philosophy that we have. 


ASI: Here is a scenario for you. If I had a specialized application for an adhesive technology and I came to Mactac. How would you start that development process? For instance, what questions would you ask me?

Schroff: Really when it comes down to it, the list of questions is infinite. But there are a couple of core ones. First of all, I am not a label guy, so my questions would be different than if you came for a label. But, let’s say you are coming to me for an engineered tape. The first thing is always, “What is it going to stick to?” That is always the big question, because what it is going to stick to will help me determine if it needs to be a rubber. Does it need to be an acrylic? Does it need to be a modified acrylic? Once you get that, then the question is, “What is the temperature range?” Because, that is going to further eliminate things. For example, maybe I can’t use a rubber because it is going to be too hot of a temperature for something like a rubber. So, you ask, what are you sticking it to, what is the temperature, any chemical, any environmental issues? And then it gets down to, “What does it have to do?” Does it have to adhere? On a foam? Is it doing a mounting application where you are going to need some holding power, where it is going to be holding a load for prolonged periods of time? Those are really the very first key questions. Then you start getting into regulatory requirements, specifications — especially if it is automotive — and things like that. That is a high view and those are really the key points, up front. 


ASI: Mactac is a trusted source for medical-grade PSA systems. And you have been in that business for almost 30 years. How different is the medical adhesives business, especially in terms of formulating challenges, compared to other adhesive products?

Schroff: Vastly. It is completely 180 degrees opposite. So, on our roll label side of the business, we might be able to gain and close a new piece of business within 90 days. In medical, it is more like 90 months. So, the first major difference is the cycle times on projects. Projects take much, much longer in terms of medical. And that is dictated a lot by the FDA and things like that. You have to go through stability testing, and you have to go through real-life stability, accelerated aging, etc. You have to prove the shelf life of the product. So, there is a lot of qualification in there, a lot of product safety and shelf-life testing. You have to be cognizant of what is going into the adhesive — it is going to be sticking to the skin? Or, even more, it can be going into a diagnostic device. In that case it has to be much cleaner than even anything that sticks to the skin. For instance with biologics, you can’t have any interference there. So, there is a big difference in the raw materials, mainly the purity and the quality of the raw materials. So, if it is a label stock — I don’t want to say you use bad raw materials — but you might not be certified to certain purities, certain specs, for anything that can be used in medical. For label — and even engineered tapes in general — you have a lot wider range of raw materials you can use. When it gets down to medical, especially in the diagnostics, you are limited to certain types of raw materials that from a cleanliness, from a certification, from a quality standpoint, can be used in medical.

So, timeline is a big one, raw materials is another major one, and the types of webstocks that we are coating for medical. They can be challenging. Typically, PSAs — again if you are doing a label — it has to be some type of film, some type of paper. When you start getting into medical tapes, now you are dealing with textiles. You are dealing with a lot of wovens, nonwovens, a lot of urethanes — really thin, extensive type of films. You are using polyethylene foams and things like that. So, there is really a lot wider range of the different types of raw materials that we are using for the coating process.


ASI: Looking ahead, what do you see as the challenge and opportunities for your business in the future?

Schroff: The challenges right now are just general market conditions. It is growth. It is rapid growth. It is finding people to fill a lot of roles. Labor always remains a challenge in order to keep up with the growth. But there are a lot of opportunities for us. At Mactac, we have gone to 100% solids. We are using a lot of UV cure technology, not using any solvent technology. That has opened a lot of doors for us. That has been doing really well for us. The whole EV market — emobility, the electric battery, the electric vehicle — has provided a lot of opportunity for us, a lot of new market. There is a lot of growth going on right now. So, those are some of the opportunities we have.

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