Primix Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc. have formed a joint venture that will make Steel Dynamics the exclusive manufacturer of Primix's hybrid composite railroad ties.
Steel Dynamics plans to invest about $5 million in a new plant where the ties will be built. Company officials have not settled on a location, but Dick Teets, vice president and general manager of Steel Dynamics' structural and rail division, said in or near Fort Wayne, Ind., where the company is headquartered, is an attractive option.
Atwood, Ind.-based Primix developed a technology in the mid-1990s for steel- and concrete-reinforced railroad ties encapsulated in plastic. To make the ties, the venture, Dynamic Composites LLC, will use a steel, roll-formed W-beam, with parallel channels filled with concrete and enclosed in a shell of extruded high density polyethylene and recycled rubber. Each weighs about 320 pounds.
Primix President Carl Fischer said in a March 17 telephone interview that Primix has nearly 30 patents worldwide and that the company will focus on licensing the technology overseas as the primary means of growth.
Primix ties already are being made in a 35-employee plant in Quingdao, China, Fischer said.
The agreement with Steel Dynamics covers all of North America, including Mexico, he said.
Steel Dynamics is already in the steel rail-tie business, making the composite ties a complementary investment, Teets said.
``It's a product that has a future,'' he said. ``This is a very versatile tie based on corrosion resistance and resistance to fatigue. We think it's very practical to a lot of applications.''
Primix's Fischer is clearly enthusiastic about the ties: ``Basically, when you have something that looks like wood but is stronger than the concrete tie, well, you'd be excited about that, too.''