Plastics Technology

DEC 2018

Plastics Technology - Dedicated to improving Plastics Processing.

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sources maintain that very few customers have switched to other resins. Says one, "We have some customers who are trying nylon 6, but the more dominant switch is from prime to recycled or wide-spec nylon 66." Adds Steve Bowen, presi- dent of PolyOne's PlastiComp business, "The supply of nylon 66 has been tightening for over a year, which has required close management to ensure there are no supply disruptions for us. Our long- term partnerships with key suppliers are helping us navigate during this critical period. We have been able secure sufficient nylon 66 material necessary to maintain our core business while also growing some additional segments." Solvay's Wilson says, "I think the industry had taken it for granted that there would be an unlimited supply of nylon 66, and this thinking has now clearly shifted. An automotive customer commented to me that until the situation is resolved they are actively steering development projects away from nylon 66 and into other resins, even if it requires some part redesign." According to Wilson, Solvay already has several active devel- opments underway to help customers convert to other resins in the company's portfolio. "Typically, nylon 66 users try to substi- tute with products based on PP, nylon 6, or PBT. If these polymers cannot meet the technical requirements, or if costly retooling is required, they then turn to high-perfor- mance nylons such as our Omnix HPPA, Ixef PARA, or Amodel PPA." He adds that there are several advantages to moving up the perfor- mance pyramid from nylon 66 with such materials. Parts can often be made with thinner walls and therefore use less resin making parts lighter with an overall lower cost and without the need for new or modified tooling. Jose Chirino, technical director of the Americas region for the high-performance materials business unit of Lanxess, reports that for several months, the company's sales and technical teams have been engaging in frank discussions with customers about the material selection process. "We've found that many times, the chosen material is more historical than truly engineered into the application. We have ques- tioned this approach and had success in switching customers who are seeing a surge in their part cost due to raw-material increases and are concerned as well about short and mid-term material availability. But apart from cost and availability issues, many nylon 6 and PBT grades can nowadays meet crucial requirements with regards to properties, such as mechanical or thermal performance, surface quality and flame retardancy." Counters Alex Fung, president of resin distributor Conventus Polymers, "Customers are concerned that this could continue into 2020. Customers continue to see repeated price increases on nylon 66 and even nylon 6. Sure, there are alternative resins to use such as PBT or nylon 6, but nylon 66 offers a unique combina- tion of properties and value that may make it difficult to replace, so you'll want make sure you account for these differences." Fung maintains that the company's extensive experience in dealing with these kind of supply issues, led it to buy ahead. ALTERNATIVES AND TARGET APPLICATIONS Some sources contacted opted to give a brief summary of materials they are offering as nylon 66 replace- ments when warranted. Others provided a more comprehensive description of their alternative materials for specific applications: Celanese Engineered Polymers: Jeff Helms, global automo- tive sales director for engineered materials at Celanese, says the firm has customers strongly considering switching to nylon 6 when the parts can function properly at slightly lower tempera- ture limits and with slightly higher moisture uptake. Celanese is also positioning recycled nylon 66, nylon 6 and post-indus- trial resin (PIR) offerings. DowDuPont: While the company is not aware of customers who have switched to alternatives, for those that do want to qualify alter- native solutions for existing commercial applications in automo- tive, E/E, industrial or consumer markets, DuPont offers Zytel nylon 6, Zytel HTN PPA, Crastin PBT, Rynite PET, and Delrin POM acetal. In addition to nylon 6 for industrial and automotive applications such as underhood parts, PolyOne's PlastiComp business is also offering blends of nylon 6 and nylon 66 in long-fiber formulations. While PolyOne has seen few customers making a switch from nylon 66, they are increasingly asked for market data, price forecasts, and details on supply constraints. "We have some customers who are trying nylon 6, but the more dominant switch is from prime to recycled or wide- spec nylon 66." 36 DECEMBER 2018 Plastics Technology COVER STORY

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