Looking Back 50 Years


AIMCAL has a rich history, dating back to its founding in 1970 from the Vacuum Metallizers Association, which at that point named AIMCAL the Association of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters, and Laminators. The organization began with only 30 members with handwritten ledgers; it wasn’t until 1980 that the organization began using computers to log members and records. The great World Wide Web was invented in 1989, and a short nine years later, aimcal.org was born. This was also the year that the first AIMCAL Sourcebook was developed under the direction of newly named Executive Director Craig Sheppard.

“Relevancy in your industry is the ultimate challenge for an association. You have to understand and deliver what’s important to your membership,” says Craig Sheppard when discussing his idea for the Sourcebook.



“Because AIMCAL’s headquarters are in the United States, many prospective members assumed we were an American organization,” says current Executive Director Chris Kerscher. “This isn’t the case, though, as we have members from all over the world. Changing the ‘I’ from ‘Industrial’ to ‘International’ was an attempt to clearly communicate that we welcome all roll-to-roll converters, no matter their location.”

In 1999, the membership stood at 145 members, and the Paper, Film & Foil Converter published a special supplement in honor of AIMCAL’s 30th anniversary. In 2000, the organization established a Technical Advisory Council, and in 2001 the Fall Technical Conference merged with the International Vacuum Conference.

“We are always keen to ally our company with other market leaders,” says Kevin McKell, Vice President of Technical Sales at Vetaphone. “AIMCAL, without a doubt, falls into that category as an authoritative voice in the market sectors we serve."

AIMCAL continued to grow its membership, which was aided by the Converting Equipment Manufacturers Association merging with AIMCAL in 2003. After expanding the staff from two to four and collaborating with the Flexible Packaging Association on the 2005 Safety Conference and Environmental Summit, membership grew to 235. Courses and summer schools (now Converting School) continued to increase, and in 2010, AIMCAL members voted to change the “I” in AIMCAL from “Industrial” to “International.”


In 2012, the European Metalizers Association (EMA) merged with AIMCAL; also in 2012, AIMCAL established an office in Amsterdam. In 2014, the first Converting School courses became available online—a giant leap in making courses accessible for all members. In an added effort to offer more online, AIMCAL TV launched in 2016. Simultaneously, AIMCAL continued to offer in-person courses and conferences across the globe.

Today, AIMCAL has more than 300 members, and continues to grow at a steady rate. Though the growth continues, the organization’s mission to educate, connect, and grow the roll-to-roll converting community stays strong.

"AIMCAL is definitely the most advanced technical association in our industry. With global exposure we enjoy cooperation with every major player among converters as well as among suppliers,” says Giancarlo Caimmi, Commercial Director of Nordmeccanica NA Ltd. “There are no similar technical associations covering the entire range of technologies in coating, lamination and vacuum metallization.”