From masking tape to med-tech, adhesive part maker BDK has a dynamic yet secure history. Today, it remains on a roll. We spoke to managing director, Nick Falconer.
BDK makes adhesive parts. It manufactures sticky components for a range of industries including healthcare, automotive, aerospace and security.
It was founded in 1959 and is a family owned firm. Managing director, Nick Falconer, joined the company in 1982 and took over the business from his father in the early 2000s, when he retired.
Fixing things from the start
“The routes go back to the very early days, back in the 1960s when we started off selling rolls of tape, masking and box sealing tape,” Falconer tells The Manufacturer.
Originally, BDK was based in London before moving to Ipswich in the early 1970s. In 1997, it moved to its current Levington location.
“There is quite a technical range of tapes for different purposes. For example, you have glass cloth tapes coated with an adhesive that has a very high melting point, which are used in industries where there is high heat.”
The origin of recommending the right adhesive tape or part to use has allowed BDK to grow to where it is today. It has meant the manufacture of its products can be flexible and customised.
“We have grown from very humble beginnings,” he says. We are a problem solver and that keeps us on our toes. We have to think fast and be knowledgeable, every day is different.”
This year is the firm’s 60th anniversary. In the last three years, sales have increased by 30%, with a 32% rise in staff numbers.
Falconer says that each decade shows demand for their products change by sector. In the 80s it was automotive, today it is adhesive parts for the med-tech industry.
“We have to take our opportunities in terms of what our next market will be. Our biggest challenge is extremes of environment, customers might what to send something up into space on a satellite, so we have to be very precise on the adhesive we recommended and supply because of the harsh conditions.”
Staying on a roll
BDK is the UK’s biggest manufacturer of adhesive parts, and its factory and clean rooms work to 24/5 production.
“We have a variety of different machines, some have taken years to develop and have the ability to cut materials extremely precisely, and others are more simple.”
For example, the team has created a process that produces components for diabetes blood test strips with tolerances of plus or minus 10 ‘microns’ – thinner than a human hair.
The firm has now started making parts for the growing renewable energy market, particularly focusing on fuel cell bonding for energy storage.
It is supplying low surface energy adhesives, which form crucial parts in the construction of equipment like solar panels or wind turbines. Falconer says this will be a growing sector for BDK in years ahead.
Knowing their tape
Niche industries need expert people that can advise and adapt to the changing demands of customers.
“People are very important. With our industry, it takes time and money to bring people up to the level of knowledge and experience they need to work efficiently,” says Nick Falconer.
Ninety people are employed by BDK, with many remaining at the company for over 25 years.
“But once they are trained, they stay and feel valued and they are valuable to us. The more complex projects we take on, the more important it is to have an experienced team that can handle numerous projects.”