Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

We are living in an era where imitations and copycats are fact of life. Some of us are tempted to invest in a knockoff item if we perceive that it will function just like the original, but at lower cost to us.

Most of the time, we are disappointed with either the performance of the imitation or its durability. The main objective of a copycat entity is to make the item look like the original. In most cases, not much attention is paid to the functionality or the durability of the copy.

Our business of extrusion is not an exception, we hear sad stories from some customers who invested in knockoff extruders that did not deliver the quality of product they were anticipating and reached a conclusion that they need to go back to the original to keep their business alive.

In a recent short course on extrusion, I was one of many speakers that made presentations to an international audience. One of the items that I touched on in one of my presentations is the effect of using genuine original wear parts for an extruder to achieve the followings:

  1. Targeted quality of the finished product
  2. To assure safety of operation
  3. Reduce the cost and add to the bottom line savings.

I share with the attendees the fact that many original brand extruders and their wear parts have been copied by companies in China, the Ukraine, South Africa and other countries. These copy extruders are offered to the market with a very attractive price and as if they are one and the same as the original.

I presented some facts about a study conducted by Iowa State University showing the hidden cost of using imitation parts as compared with the original. The study focused on an Extruder part’s durability. The microstructural quality, hardness and chemical composition of Insta-Pro extruder screw flights were compared with those of copies made in Africa, Asia, North America and Latin America.

The study documented the following facts about the imitation parts relative to the original:

  • North American competitor wore 33% faster
  • African competitor wore 167% faster
  • Asian competitor wore 633% faster
  • Latin American competitor wore 900% faster

Although the cost of the imitation parts is less than the cost of the original parts, the total cost to the end user is much higher due to:

  1. Inferior quality of extruded products
  2. Higher capital cost of frequently replaced imitation parts
  3. More repair and maintenance
  4. Lack of safety assurances

What was not measured here, is the quality of extruded products and their relative value. Having an extruder is one thing and producing the quality product is another. It is typical of an original extruder manufacturer to provide on demand guidance, recommendations, service and help from their engineers, nutritionists, technicians and sales force to advance the quality and value of the extruded products.

As we shop for prices, sometimes we come up winners and most of the time we get what we pay for.

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