Cincinnati Milacron Inc. is beefing up its screw business by buying Wear Technology Inc., a Kansas firm serving the aftermarket with new and rebuilt screws.
Cincinnati-based Milacron also announced Feb. 19 that it is buying Northern Supply, a distributor of injection press parts, such as screws and barrels and heater bands, and of auxiliary equipment, like chillers and conveyors. Northern Supply has centers in Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C.
Combined sales for the two firms approximated $15 million in 1997. Milacron would not break out individual sales. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Screw manufacturing is hot right now. In the past year, several manufacturers have launched major expansions. Milacron makes screws and barrels at a factory in Mount Orab, Ohio. In May, it announced it would become a full-service supplier to the aftermarket, making screws and barrels for other brands of machines.
Milacron will retain the Wear Technology plant in McPherson, Kan., and keep making screws in Mount Orab, said Jim Abbiati, Milacron's top extrusion executive. He called Wear ``the major aftermarket screw company for PVC twin-screw extruders,'' both parallel and conical machines.
``Wear Technology brings us a strong position and reputation in the aftermarket, with its exceptional coating technology and quick-delivery capabilities,'' said Abbiati, vice president and general manager of Milacron's Plastics Machinery Applications Business.
Abbiati said Milacron wants to let Wear Technology operate with a high degree of autonomy, and retain its own identity — similar to its D-M-E Co. subsidiary, which makes mold bases.
Milacron also makes extruders, injection molding machines, blow molding machines, machine tools and industrial products, a profitable segment that includes drill bits and grinding wheels — things that are used up, then need to be bought again.
Screws are an example of such ``consumable'' products because they wear out. Abbiati called them the ``tires'' of the extrusion industry. Milacron has been expanding in these types of products, which have milder, more predictable business cycles than the company's mainstay, capital equipment.
``As the elements in PVC compounds continue to be modified for cost and environmental reasons, abrasion usually increases,'' he said. ``So we see good growth potential for aftermarket screws for the installed base of PVC twin-screw extruders.''
Wear Technology's main focus has been on developing wear-resistant coatings to extend screw life, such as tungsten carbide and molybdenum.