Australian Company Now Has Three ENTEK Processing Lines

Plantic Technologies Ltd. of Melbourne, Australia has purchased a new 103mm twin-screw extruder from ENTEK Manufacturing, Inc. of Lebanon, OR for large-scale processing of its biodegradable materials.

Plantic, which already has two ENTEK twin-screw extruders running at its headquarters in Melbourne, will use the new 103mm system to support large-scale production to satisfy growing demand for its Plantic material, particularly from Europe. The new 103mm extruder will ship from ENTEK by the end of 2005.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Plantic to effectively process their line of innovative biodegradable materials,” said Dr. Kirk Hanawalt, Vice President Worldwide Sales for ENTEK. “This is an emerging market with great possibilities and Plantic is at the forefront of this market.”

Novel Technology Requires Processing Expertise

Biodegradability – the ability of a material to be “eaten” by microbes, leaving nothing but carbon dioxide and water – is the foundation of Plantic. Founded in 2002, Plantic’s materials are derived from plants and are being used to produce products such as trays for chocolates, and packaging for cookies and other products. The plastic alternative material works like plastic, but is made from renewable and sustainable resources.

Trying to manufacture this new material posed a number of challenges to Plantic. The material, made up largely of corn starch, is extruded into sheet for use in a variety of packaging applications. After trying as many as seven extruder suppliers to successfully compound their materials, ENTEK became Plantic’s supplier of choice. A large part of this success was due to ENTEK’s extensive lab trials at their headquarters in Lebanon, OR.

In 2003, Plantic began searching for a twin-screw extruder supplier that would help improve their manufacturing process as they scaled-up to commercial production. Several companies were contacted, including ENTEK. According to Linda Campbell, Inside Sales Manager at ENTEK, an important part of the process was working with Plantic to trial a wide variety of formulations to optimize the material performance.

“We have had many trials with Plantic that helped them refine their process,” said Campbell. “On some of these trials, we ran up to 30 different experiments in one day. This requires a lot of preparation before the trials; for instance, we helped Plantic source several different raw materials in small batches from around the world, and have the materials shipped in advance to our headquarters in Oregon. It was this type of effort, which we do with all customers, that showed Plantic that we were committed to partnering with them to improve their process and results.”

Due to the success of the trials, Plantic decided to purchase a turnkey ENTEK extruder line. Another example of outstanding ENTEK service involved the start-up of the extruder at Plantic’s headquarters in Melbourne. Although ENTEK had agreed to provide one engineer to attend the start-up, Plantic requested that a second Controls specialist from ENTEK also attend. ENTEK sent the controls specialist at its own expense to ensure a smooth start-up. “Our core values mean doing the right thing – whatever it takes,” said Campbell.

Since then, Plantic has ordered two additional ENTEK extruders. They have also recommended ENTEK to other companies in Australia, including one of their partners in research, the Centre for High Performance Polymers at The University of Queensland, who recently purchased an ENTEK 27mm extruder.

Says Brendan Morris, Chief Operating Officer of Plantic Technologies, “We have installed ENTEK extruders at our Melbourne plant. We are using them to manufacture our environmentally sustainable and biodegradable Plantic® material. We are delighted with the performance of our ENTEK machines and ENTEKs commitment to service and would recommend ENTEK to any potential customers.”

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