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In memoriam Mikko Tirkkonen

Mikko Tirkkonen was born in 1941 and graduated as a paper engineer in 1967. Four years later he was appointed to develop consumer papers at Raf. Haarla’s Tampere factory, later United Paper Mills. It was during his involvement in an air-laid paper project that, as the machinery delivered the first roll, he met Juhani Strömberg – after which in 1980 he became Development Manager at Raflatac.

Self-adhesive label papers with good printing and die-cutting characteristics were important in the early days at Raflatac. Gloss papers equal to competitors’ offerings were quickly developed, followed by matt-coated papers which competitors didn’t have at the time. Mikko learned that the best way to find out how well new products met customers' requirements was to visit them with rolls of material and test them on location.

The most important task in Tirkkonen's career was perhaps the development of Raflatac’s thermal papers. As Product Manager of this business, Mikko also produced the content for technical marketing brochures which helped small label printers learn to control these demanding materials. Good product development, excellent supporting literature and intensive customer training made Raflatac’s thermal papers the overwhelming market leaders in Europe.

Tirkkonen's next challenge was the development of film labelstock, an area in which Raflatac had lagged behind in the market. Machinery and products needed to be developed, and again Mikko had the role of pioneer. Mikko was an important person in the core team, thanks to which Raflatac rose from a small start-up company specialized in water-based adhesives to second position in the self-adhesives industry globally. His last task was the development of UPM Rafsec’s RFID technology, from which he retired in 2002.

In his work, Mikko is remembered for being broad-minded and always ready for new challenges. He built an extensive international network and deep friendships with many colleagues, suppliers and customers. Colleagues have warm memories of Mikko, and are grateful for many years shared both at work and in leisure.