ENTEK Manufacturing Inc, the leading U.S. based manufacturer of twin-screw extruders and replacement wear parts, enjoyed record sales of its machinery in 2008. While the company has traditionally seen strong sales of its machinery to the wood plastic composites industry for high output applications, its twin-screw extruders are also popular in other markets and applications including color compounding, food packaging and bioresins.

2008 Market Trends

The downturn in the housing market in North America directly affected the suppliers of wood-plastic composites, and demand for these products went down. While that market was struggling another was emerging; one notable trend seen at ENTEK in 2008 was that substantially more customers and prospects were pursuing bioresin applications. ENTEK’s in-house development lab was busier than ever as the company ran material and product trials for a wide variety of these types of materials.

So far this year, bioresin trials have made up 35% of all trials run in the lab (see table below). Bioresin development is a very real, fast emerging trend.

Lab Trials Table

ENTEK was an early participant in bioresin processing. Back in 2005, Australian customer Plantic, a pioneer in bioresin compounding, successfully processed their patented packaging products on ENTEK machinery before the term ‘bioresins’ was common in the industry. The first Plantic products got their start in the ENTEK lab in Lebanon, Oregon, and the two companies continue a strong business relationship today.

Several new players have emerged in the industry in this area, and ENTEK is working with many of them. New materials of all types are arriving at the company weekly, and ENTEK welcomes the opportunity to lend its lab and processing expertise for what could be the next breakthrough bioresin application.

Predictions for 2009

The wood-plastic composites market is expected to continue to be flat in 2009, so ENTEK is not predicting strong sales of its large, high-output twin-screw extruders (103mm and 133mm) to this market.

However, in 2008 ENTEK saw stronger sales of the company’s smaller and mid-sized twin-screw extruders– 40mm, 53mm, and 73mm – and expects this trend to continue in 2009. The 40mm machine, introduced to the industry in 2006, has been a strong seller because of its versatility; it can be used for product development and small production runs.

“In the color compounding market, many processors like the ability to run smaller, customized lots of materials,” said John Effmann, ENTEK’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “The same goes for the bioresin suppliers, although once their products have gained commercial acceptance, they tend to move towards the larger, higher output production machines like the 73, 103 and 133.”

Finally, ENTEK predicts continued strong sales of its replacement wear parts, including screws and barrels, to users of both ENTEK and non-ENTEK brands of twin-screw extruders. “We had a record year in 2008 for parts sales as well,” said Effmann. “Companies are working to get more out of their existing machines, and need high quality replacement parts in a hurry. We manufacture and sell parts for most popular brands of twin-screw extruders and this has been a strong business for us. In fact, we have invested in several new machine tools that are being installed by year end to help us meet the anticipated demands.”

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