Lebanon, Ore. — Entek Manufacturing LLC is gaining visibility and sales growth beyond its historic focus on production of twin-screw co-rotating extruders.
"The industry is learning more about our ability to supply barrels and screws under wear-parts contracts," Linda Campbell, Entek director of sales since April 2016, said in an interview in Lebanon.
Entek Manufacturing operates as Entek Extruders. While the business does not disclose sales figures, Campbell projects a 40 percent increase during 2017 vs. last year, principally from higher volumes of parts and components, along with more demand for turnkey production services.
"Some key customers wanted to collaborate with us on metallurgy" and production projects, Campbell reported.
A customer visiting for a pilot-plant trial toured the Lebanon facility and, "after seeing our machine shop and understanding our capabilities, invited us to meet with them at one of their production facilities to learn about a need they had been struggling with," Campbell said.
"They had been working for two years on an R&D project on how to reduce landfill waste from used very-large elements as well as decrease the cost of new replacement screws," she said. "We collaborated with them, and Entek developed a new process that we ultimately patented."
Because the customer understood Entek's capabilities, "they engaged us to help with the metallurgy needs," Campbell noted.
Another customer wants to work with Entek on extending screw/barrel wear life to reduce downtime. "In this case, they are open to thinking outside the box and using their highly abrasive facility as a testbed," she said.
Since 2009, Entek has produced barrels and screws with some surprisingly large diameters up to 250 millimeters. Primary end markets involve building material, automotive and appliance applications.
In January, Entek introduced its QC3-brand 33 mm twin-screw co-rotating extruder for compounding small lots.
The addition fills a gap between other QC3 models at 27 mm, 43 mm and 53 mm. QC3 stands for quick change, quick clean and quality control.
QC3 demonstrates a "quick screw set change, something that takes five minutes or less on Entek machinery compared to an hour typically on other machines," said Kirk Hanawalt, Entek Manufacturing president and a co-owner of the parent company.
Larger Entek extruder models have diameters of 73 mm, 103 mm and 133 mm.
Since 1997, Entek has built more than 225 extruders of which 187 operate in North America, Hanawalt said. Entek can connect with each machine via a secure virtual private network.
Entek Extruders' in-house pilot plant continues to evolve and now utilizes a QC3 43 mm extruder along with other Entek technology and supplier-consigned equipment with a total value of about $1.5 million. The setup allows customers to experience benefits of the systems firsthand.
The capabilities include liquid feeders, a strand cutter, a hot-face cutter, profile dies and cooling tanks.
"We run trials, and we can target pounds-per-hour consumption capacities," Hanawalt said.
Entek dedicates the services of a manager and two technicians to pilot-plant functions.
Entek opened a sales and engineering office in Wake Forest, N.C., in 2014. Two people are employed there, and "we are adding a third person now," Hanawalt said.
Entek Extruders occupies a total of 65,200 square feet including 46,000 for manufacturing, 15,700 for offices and 3,500 for the pilot plant.
Hanawalt said the operation employs 135 and aims to end 2017 at 150. Currently, the business is recruiting additional machinists, welders, assemblers and control and mechanical engineers.
Entek Extruders looks forward to May 7-11, 2018, at the triennial NPE trade show of the Plastics Industry Association in Orlando, Fla.
"Our goal is to exhibit two extruders, a QC3 33 mm and a 103 mm," Campbell said.