By 1989, fences were 25% of Bufftech’s sales, and by 1991, Bufftech was out of pipe altogether. Kroy Building Products in York, Neb., was also exclusively a pipe maker until 1990, when it started making PVC fences. By ’96, Kroy had split its pipe and fence making into two companies, of which fencing was much larger.


Nebraska Plastics Inc. in Cozad, Neb., is considered to have made the first PVC fencing Efficiency Heating
Coolingin 1976. “That fence such as temporary fence,portable fence,wire mesh fence still stands on a farm east of Cozad, Neb.,” notes company president Rex German. Other small PVC pipe makers began to follow suit in the early to mid-’80s, like Triple Crown Fence (now part of Royal Group) in Milford, Ind., and Bufftech (now part of Certainteed) in Buffalo, N.Y. They were drawn by the double-digit profit margins in fencing, as compared with less than 1% margins in pipe.

Makers of window and siding profiles also got into fences as a profitable way to reuse scrap that they could less readily put back into windows and siding. Lumber and building-products companies have also gotten into PVC fences. An example is lumber maker Irwin Industries in Peachtree City, Ga., which began making PVC fence profiles five years ago. “Now other profile companies are looking at fences as an additional product line,” says Tom Brown, sales manager at ExtrusionTek Milacron in Batavia, Ohio.

Pipe and siding companies initially approached fence manufacturing quite differently. Pipe makers extruded monolayer products very fast, often with dual-strand dies, and without worrying much about surface cosmetics. They applied high-output pipe cooling techniques such as vacuum sizing, flooded cooling, and high-intensity spray. On the other hand, window-profile makers were used to extruding far more slowly than pipe, with close attention to cosmetics and dimensional tolerances. They used dual-strand lines primarily on smaller profiles, and they typically relied on dry-sizing calibrators. In addition, window-profile makers put uv-resistant cap layers on exposed surfaces of their fence products to reduce their overall use of stabilizers and titanium dioxide.

Now the two approaches are meeting somewhere in the middle: Profile makers are speeding up their fencing lines with use of high-speed pipe cooling and dual-strand lines of all sizes. Coextrusion of uv cap layers is also growing in popularity.


However, there are dissenters. Royal Crown and Nebraska Plastics, for example, are committed to monolayer extrusion, believing it makes a superior fence product. Nebraska Plastics’ German warned about coextrusion at the fence convention in Fla. this year: “Unfortunately, many producers have begun using PVC fence as a dumping ground for inferior materials. While coextrusion itself isn’t the culprit, it gives opportunistic producers the chance to mask inappropriate materials with a capstock.”

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