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Chromaline to grow with new alliance

The Chromaline Corporation is marking its 50th anniversary with a new strategic alliance, some new mainline products and an eye toward diversifying. The Duluth-based company is a leading developer, manufacturer and global supplier of photo chemic...

The Chromaline Corporation is marking its 50th anniversary with a new strategic alliance, some new mainline products and an eye toward diversifying.
The Duluth-based company is a leading developer, manufacturer and global supplier of photo chemical imaging systems. It operates a plant in West Duluth with 75 employees and serves a worldwide market. Customers include screen printers and decorative sand carvers from all over, in all sizes of business.
Having settled a long-running lawsuit, Chromaline has entered an alliance with the company it faced in the courtroom over a patent infringement dispute.
Former rival Aicello Chemical Company of Japan will distribute Chromaline's PhotoBrasive sandblast photo-resist products in Europe. Aicello will have exclusive rights to sell certain Chromaline products in six patent protected countries and non-exclusive distribution rights in the rest of Europe.
The arrangement allows Chromaline to introduce its new line of products and protect European users from the risk of patent infringement litigation.
The deal also spurred Chromaline into a major production effort to supply Aicello with an inventory. That resulted in Chromaline recently filling its largest order.
At the same time, Chromaline has added its first electronic product, improved some traditional products and is looking at other ventures.
"It's been a huge relief and simplification to have the lawsuit settled and be able to get back to the market with our best products and be able to put our research and development talents into improving those products," said Bill Ulland, Chromaline chairman, president and CEO. "We've got truly leadership products in the industry right now."
The company operates in two divisions, explained Ulland. One is the photo stencils and screen print market, and the other is the photo brasive and photo resist side.
In both areas, Chromaline has developed technically advanced and environmentally sound products.
Ulland said the screen print photo chemistry component is the more complicated side of the business. Chromaline produces and sells emulsion, film and screen chemical products through a system of dealers. It has also introduced an optical measuring device developed with Apprise Technologies, another Duluth company.
On the sandblast side, Chromaline sells under the trade name of PhotoBrasive Systems and ships direct to the end users. It supplies everything needed including glass and crystal.
Ulland said Chromaline started as a metallic label maker, went on to screen printing products, then sand carving products. Now it is looking at new ventures, he said.
But space is tight at its West Duluth location in the old Empress Coffee building, and the lack of nearby available land puts a limit on Chromaline's growth.
"We're at capacity now," Ulland said. "If we're going to grow to the next level, we're going have to decide what we're going to do for more space."

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