Steel Dynamics ( STLD) has formed a joint venture with Dynamic Composites to manufacture high-strength, long-life composite railroad ties. The joint venture will initially have the capacity to produce 250,000 ties a year. Steel Dynamics will fund about $5 million and will substantially own and control the venture, it said. The plant is expected to employ about 20 people with automated manufacturing processes and is expected to start by the end of 2006. Composite ties will be manufactured under exclusive license from Primix which previously developed and introduced the product under the "Primix" label. Steel Dynamics said its tie business and rail business will share the same customer base, North America's Class I railroads. North American demand for railroad ties is estimated from 15 million to 19 million ties per year, a $700 million to $800 million market. Steel Dynamics believes there is excellent potential for composite ties to gain a substantial share of this market because of the new product's perceived longer life, operational benefits and cost-effectiveness.