ATL, formerly known as Ad Tape & Label Co., was established in 1951 as a small, family-owned printer in Menomonee Falls, WI. Manufacturing its products from tabletop presses, the company was named after its original product line of advertising tape. In 1963, ATL incorporated and was officially recognized as Ad Tape & Label Co., Inc. At that time, ATL focused on the production of labels for industrial and direct mail markets. Following the sale of the company to an employee in 1987, ATL continued to expand its markets and product lines, specializing in producing customized labels for large printers and direct mail companies.
Twenty years ago, ATL formed a second division that focused on servicing the medical industry by converting foams and tapes into disposable medical devices. The company developed a relationship with 3M and became one of 14 “3M Medical Preferred Converters” in the U.S. ATL’s ability to achieve and surpass the strict quality standards required by the medical industry led to a natural transition into the pharmaceutical industry in 2001, when the company developed an in-line booklet label from 3-19 pages. Since then, ATL has manufactured more than 120 million pharmaceutical booklet labels in over 80 languages for more than 1,700 clinical trials.
In 2003, ATL earned its cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) acceptance as a result of strict compliance to 21 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Part 820, for the manufacture, packaging and storage of disposable medical devices. In 2007, ATL became a private brand manufacturer of medical devices and began direct shipment from its Wisconsin plant to worldwide stores/distribution centers. ATL also follows cGMP 21 CFR Parts 210 and 211 for the manufacturing, processing and packaging of all pharmaceutical label manufacturing.
ATL Security Label Systems™ was established in 2007 to provide an advanced new line of labels, offering security and anti-counterfeiting features such as invisible digital forensic marking, track and trace, mass serialization, custom codes, 2-D barcodes, color shifting authentication, covert “machine readable” markers, and anti-microbial labels and packaging.
The nature of the customers served by ATL means that the quality of the company’s output is of paramount importance. In addition to strict adherence to approved organizational and procedural regulations, ATL’s products undergo rigorous quality checks at each stage of design and production. To help maintain the company’s reputation for product excellence, regular investments are made in state-of-the-art inspection equipment. This commitment to upholding the company’s high quality standards can be illustrated by the recent purchase of an advanced Kestrel 200 optical measuring microscope from Vision Engineering.
A Necessary Upgrade“Although we were previously able to adequately measure die cuts and spacing, along with the location of prints with our existing technology, we felt that this was an area for potential upgrading,” explains Greg Gilanyi, ATL’s quality manager. “Having researched the alternative optical measuring microscopes and viewing demonstrations of the most applicable units, we chose Vision Engineering’s Kestrel 200. Our new Vision Engineering microscope delivers fast and accurate two-axis measurements aiding our precision and speed of operation. The very sharp, high-contrast images also provided by the Kestrel’s advanced optics enable our staff to examine work in greater detail. The superior optical image of the unit even allows difficult-to-view features to be measured on low-contrast items, such as black or transparent labels.”
According to Donald Dobert, president of ATL, “We were looking for a unit that would allow us to expand our FDA cGMP compliance. The Kestrel allows us to measure critical die cuts down to .0001 in. We constantly perform IQ-OQ-PQ (installation/operational/performance qualifications) in our Systems Validation Protocol, and the Kestrel unit provides us with accurate and precise measurement. From this we can determine process Cpk and quantify to our customers our quality in terms of defects per million.
“We perform instrument Repeatability and Reproducibility studies so we can prove that measurement error does not induce false readings into our validations or Cpk (capability) data. I can tell you from my background of more than 30 years in quality that the Kestrel unit is one of the best devices I’ve ever used.”
Simplifying ProductionWith data processing performed by a QC-200 multi-function microprocessor, the Kestrel 200 was designed to be simple and easy to use, making it ideal for offline quality control routines performed by production staff. Perfect for measuring 2-D features of small, intricate parts, with a high-precision measuring stage of 6 x 4 in., the Kestrel 200 is the smallest member of Vision Engineering’s optical measurement range.
Kestrel uses Vision Engineering’s patented Dynascope™ technology to provide enhanced surface definition for fast and simple measurement. Outstanding optical clarity also allows detailed visual inspection to be performed simultaneously. Unlike video systems that digitize captured optical information, Kestrel employs a pure optical image, meaning that there is no image processing before the measurement. The result is that component parts can be measured with confidence.
The Kestrel’s surface and sub-stage illumination options enable adjustment of lighting to suit any application. Semi-coaxial spot lamps (power x2) provide surface illumination, with the option for an LED ring light or an episcopic (through the lens) illumination for viewing blind bores or deep surface features. With x20 magnification fitted as standard, further quick-change magnification options of x10, x20 and x50 are available.
For more information, contact Vision Engineering at 570 Danbury Rd., New Milford, CT 06776; phone (860) 355-3776; or visit www.visioneng.us. ATL’s website is located at www.atlco.com.