Enthusiasm, expertise and technological know-how have enabled Eng. Fernand Oppliger, 52 years old, born in Switzerland but Italian by adoption, to make a name for himself on the paper converting market with his sheet to sheet laminators, which are extremely accurate and high performing machines.
Eng. Fernand Oppliger has inherited his natural talent for precision mechanics from the family company based in Switzerland, where he could cultivate and deepen it, and when he was just 4, he used to play with lathes and mil ling, thus “helping” with the production of watch gears. Unfortunately today, that company which in the 60es employed over 300 people and, due to its watch quality and accuracy, had a monopoly in the sector, no longer exists. Also for this reason, Eng. Oppliger wanted to create his own enterprise, dedicated to the memory of his family and in order to give an opportunity to his two sons, Glenn and Jérôme. They are working with him led by the same passion for technology which does not seem to disappear in this family, whereas the third son is engaged in the preparation of rally cars and shares with his father and brothers only some space in the factory. Now, the present structure is no longer sufficiently wide and in September the company is moving into another shed in the province of Brescia. The contact with the paper converting sector was casual, but it drastically changed the life of Eng. Oppliger who in the meantime, apart from a period of training on site, also graduated in Mechanical Engineering. On behalf of his company, that apart from watches also built special working centres for the Air Force (this was another of his passions that could have become a real job in the military sector), Eng. Oppliger was sent to Cellatica (Brescia) to collaborate in a special project for two years. In that period, he met a person who was working in a box factory and asked him to build a sheet-setter being used on a machine. The project was not successful, but Eng. Oppliger was noticed by an Italian paper converting machine company that appreciated his talent and asked him to join them. Oppliger liked Cellatica very much and was attracted by this new opportunity, so he decided to change his life. In 1990 he moved to Italy where he started working in a company of the sector. However, he soon realized that the job could not meet his requirements, so in his free time he began to design his first laminator. This happened on 24th December 1994 at 22 p.m.!
“In 2000 I decided to open my own company specializing in providing assistance services for paper converting machines and, of course, my core business was focused on laminators. Work didnt lack, that was a good period and I used to work under a machine wearing my blue overalls rather than in my office. During one of my interventions at a customers factory, I mentioned that I had been working for several years at my project and this aroused the owners interest. As he was quite satisfied with my technical interventions on his machines, he as ked me to build a prototype of my laminator and to test it at his factory”
When the prototype was ready in September 2003, there were no waste sheets being used and therefore I was allowed to employ production sheets, provided I had not wasted too many of them. Well, my machine was able to perfectly laminate the first, the second and third sheet and a full run of 5000 pieces was carried out”. Of course, everybody was amazed, including Oppliger. Still to day the laminator is working at that paper converting company in the province of Brescia. In the meantime, Eng. Oppliger and his two sons, Glenn specialized in electrical engineering and Jérôme in mechanical designing, continued their assistance activity following the success of the first prototype. At Drupa 2004 there was another drastic change: the meeting with ASITRADE of Bobst Group. Oppliger already knew them when he worked in his family company, since he had supplied them with some working centres.
“Armed with courage, but proud of my product, I approached Bobsts stand, though my sons didnt encourage me. A technical meeting with some designers took place immediately and we fixed another appointment after the exhibition in order to show them the machine. So we started collaborating with ASITRADE and in 2009 I assigned all the rights of construction of the machine, which now Bobst Group develop on their own and sell worldwide with the brand FolioStar. On the Italian market, however, we build and sell directly with our brand Oppliger”, says the engineer. Today, about ten people are working in the mechanic factory, while in the shed the machines are assembled and tested. All the components are developed outside by some factories in the zone which are highly qualified in the manufacturing of precision parts according to the projects carried out by Eng, Oppliger.