Extruder builders kept up their strong pace of production to meet pandemic-related needs for food packaging, medical tubing and utility conduit as well as decking to work and entertain at home.
Their customers that manufacture plastic pipe for municipal infrastructure and residential drinking water lines also will be busier with the passage of the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
More than $55 billion will go toward improving tap water infrastructure throughout the United States. Crumbling water mains and lead-contaminated pipes need to be replaced and pipe extruded from PVC and polyethylene will compete against the traditional materials.
Machine builders like Lebanon, Ore.-based Entek Manufacturing Inc. are experiencing record growth and need another facility to handle demand. The company is investing $10 million and hiring 50 people at a new manufacturing and engineering plant in Henderson, Nev.
Entek's customers process natural fiber-plastic composites for products like Fiberon decking and offer pelletizing, custom compounding, specialty sheet lines, food and medical applications and plastics recycling.
"Compounding continues to be strong for us. The continued investment in consumer goods made from recycled plastics are continuing to push demand for our products," Entek President Kimberly Medford said.
Officials at Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp., which builds extruders for manufacturers of flexible packaging, particularly food, also said 2021 is going to be another record year for their North American operations.
"Many of our customers work with Amazon, which is booming, so this is also driving our business," said Andrew Wheeler, president of W&H North America.
At Hosokawa Alpine American Inc. in Northborough, Mass., which makes blown film extrusion equipment for flexible packaging, President David Nunes said business is "better than ever."
"2021 was a continuation of steady and upward sales since 2010," Nunes said.
Officials at Davis-Standard LLC also report very strong business in 2021. They are seeing strength in demand across the globe in many end markets, including cables for power distribution and communication, packaging, medical, and building and construction products.
"The strength seen in 2021 began with stronger demand in the fourth quarter of 2020. As a result, we expect 2021 orders up over 50 percent vs. 2020," said Jim Murphy, president and CEO of Davis-Standard.
At Battenfeld-Cincinnati USA, President and CEO Paul Godwin described 2021 as a "very active year" for the McPherson, Kan.-based builder of machines for manufacturers of window and door profiles, conduit for communication cables, and food packaging in the form of boxes, blister packages and sleeves.
Krauss-Maffei Corp. has a diversified extrusion division for manufacturing nearly all extruded plastic and rubber products.
"We saw exceptionally strong growth in recycling and construction segments," said Brian Bishop, vice president of new machine sales. The cost of the machinery was rarely the customer's top concern, he added.
"In most cases, it was not about price; it was how quickly we could deliver," Bishop said.