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Basics of Plastic Profile Extrusion

 

Geist Plastics

The Basics of Plastic Profile Extrusion

When I joined Geist Plastics three years ago this month, I didn’t know anything about plastics extrusion. I had experience in several other fields, including construction and banking, but I wouldn’t have recognized an extruder if I tripped over it. So when it comes to learning the basics of profile extrusion, if you or any of your colleagues don’t understand it, believe me when I say it’s a manufacturing process you can easily grasp.

A typical production run of an extruded profile ranges from a few thousand feet in a single shift to hundreds of thousands of feet produced over a couple of weeks.In brief, plastics extrusion is the process of using a machine to take raw plastic material and melt it, push it through a metal block (a die) to form the desired product, cool it and, ultimately, cut it into specific lengths. The types of plastics products manufactured using extrusion range from pipes and electrical covers to window frames and fence. If you’d like detailed information on the plastics extrusion process, you can read about it here.

About half of our customers know they need extruded products but aren’t familiar with the manufacturing process. One question we’re frequently asked is whether we can use tooling made by another company. The answer is yes; we have a steel adapter to make their tooling work with our machine. Another question is whether we can make prototypes. The answer is no; it’s cost-prohibitive because the custom dies we make range from $3,000 to $80,000. A typical production run of an extruded profile ranges from a few thousand feet in a single shift to hundreds of thousands of feet produced over a couple of weeks. If a client really needs a prototype, however, we can use a 3D printer to create it.

We spend a lot of time educating customers about product color options, tooling costs and materials. Most customers don’t want too much detail. For instance, they just want to know if the material they suggest will shatter easily or if it’s unbreakable; they don’t want to know the components of the materials. But if you’re among those who want in-depth information on how extrusion works, just say so. Along with our in-house experts we have outstanding outside resources. When customers come to us with “off the wall” projects – materials that are difficult to work with or odd-shaped profiles – we turn to our industry consultant for some pointers on getting started. He’s so renowned he’s in the Plastics Hall of Fame. (I bet you didn’t even know there was a Plastics Hall of Fame!)

I hope this issue of our newsletter has been helpful. Feel free to share it with your coworkers or peers who buy plastic extrusion. And if you have questions about an extruded product, call or email us.


Cory Hall
Production Manager
Geist Plastics
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September 2012
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Customer Service Training Tips

Walt Disney said, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it takes people to make it a reality.” Yet some organizations focus too much on the search for new customers and too little on existing customers. This results in excessive customer churn. It’s tempting to attribute this problem to the fickleness of customers or today’s competitive market. When a customer leaves, however, it’s usually because they are unhappy with the service they are receiving.

Here are tips for training your employees to ensure you deliver stellar service:

Define your expectations. Let employees know how you’ll measure customer service success and outline their goals. Don’t assume they know your definition of service.

Equip employees. Identify and provide what’s needed to properly serve the customer. A cell phone? The latest project management software? Access to email 24/7? It will vary by department.

Explain limits. Be clear about your policies. Make sure employees know how much leeway they have to solve problems on their own versus talking to a supervisor. Being able to say yes on the spot will make the customer and the employee happy.

Role play. Role playing allows employees to practice handling an angry customer. If any employees have dealt with unhappy customers, have them share their experiences during training sessions. From these stories you’ll learn how to improve service or possibly operations.

Make managers an example.Employees on the front line will often emulate how they see their bosses handle customers. Make certain supervisors throughout the company understand they are role models and need to act accordingly.

At periodic intervals, invite your customers to complete a survey card or survey by email to share their thoughts about your organization. Keep it simple, asking open-ended questions about what they like, don’t like, and wish you would change. Gathering this kind of data once or twice a year will prove invaluable in your efforts to retain customers.

5110 NW 38th Street, Lincoln, NE 68524
877.828.5448

Geist Plastics is an ISO 9001 Certified custom plastic profile extrusion manufacturer in Lincoln, NE providing a range of materials and services to fit your needs.

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