How ENTEK’s Quick Change, Quick Clean, and Quality Control System Came to Be
It was in January 2015 that the new ENTEK QC3 twin-screw extruder was introduced to the industry. The first ENTEK machine to incorporate all the features of the QC3 was the 43mm twin-screw extruder, a new size of machine that also was introduced as part of the concept.
But it was more than two years earlier, in late 2012, that ENTEK embarked on its quest to design and build a better twin-screw extruder, one that incorporated specific features that customers asked for.
“We have many years of experience manufacturing twin-screw extruders and wear parts for the industry,” said Linda Campbell, ENTEK’s Director of Sales. “And our sister company, ENTEK International, uses these machines to process battery separator materials – some of the most difficult to process materials in the world. But we’re always trying to get better – so we set out to learn more from our customers.”
Numerous customer interviews were held over a year or more to find out what they really wanted in a twin-screw extruder. Several common themes emerged from these interviews that led ENTEK to begin the process of designing the new QC3. These included:
-faster, easier methods to change screw sets – a critical need for color compounders who often change screws numerous times a day. This included a desire for easier ways to install the replacement screws into the couplings, a procedure that often was time consuming
-machines that stay clean, and prevent material residue and dust from getting into the critical processing parts
-easier ways to access the appropriate tools necessary to work on the machine
“Once we had the information we needed from our customers, we got to work with a great internal team to design and build a next-generation twin-screw extruder,” said Kirk Hanawalt, ENTEK President. “There was plenty of trial and error, but the machine we introduced in 2015 was and continues to be a winner.”
Three Years Later
This coming January marks the 3-year anniversary of the introduction of the QC3 and a lot has happened in that time. Materials compounders have embraced the new ENTEK machinery and numerous QC3’s are up and running throughout the industry. In addition, ENTEK expanded the product line by introducing the new QC#-33mm twin-screw extruder earlier this year, a size specifically designed for compounders running small lots of materials who need to change screw sets often. ENTEK has also added the QC3 features to its 27mm and 53mm twin-screw extruders.
“The industry response to the QC3 has been phenomenal,” said Linda Campbell. “Compounders are seeing that this new machinery is making their lives easier in several ways, not the least of which is the fast screw change features.”