According to Plastics News, the price of Nylon 6/6 has risen more than 50 percent in the past 18 months. That’s an increase of $1.60 USD per kilogram.
Few outside the plastics industry have heard of Nylon 6/6. However, those in the industry, even those unfamiliar with plastics feedstocks, have become more knowledgeable about the material in recent months, as a global shortage pushes the price of the resin up and the availability of the resin down.
For those who aren’t in the know, Nylon 6/6 (also known as Nylon 6-6, Nylon 6,6, and Nylon 66) is one of the two most common types of nylon resins used by the plastics industry (the other is Nylon 6). Although the product has many uses, in recent times use has been dominated by the production of three dimensional structural objects. Because Nylon 6/6 is fire resistant, strong, and particularly light weight, it has become important to the automotive industry, where it has been used to produce parts such as radiator end tanks, oil pans, and air intake manifolds, among other parts. The compound is also used to produce plastic-based fibres for use in the production of carpets and textiles.
Why has the price suddenly increased? It’s a simple matter of economics.
As reported in Plastics News, according to Phil McDivitt, the CEO of Ascent, a Houston-based Nylon 6/6 producer, “there was a lack of adequate returns for an extended period of time” in the market, resulting in a “delay in making investments.” However, as the article in Plastics News goes on to explain, the production shortage isn’t due to underinvestment by 6/6 producers. Rather, it is due to insufficient production capacity at companies that produce adiponitrile (also known as ADN), an important feedstock for the production of Nylon 6/6 resin.
Although more production is scheduled to come online in coming years, many, including the director of PolySource, an injection moulding company, don’t believe the demand will be met by supply until 2021 at the earliest. Unfortunately, the unique properties of Nylon 6/6 make it difficult to replace, and the prices of the most analogous materials are already rising. Despite the engineering challenges of switching to a different material, those companies which are able to do so will be able to whether the coming years of high Nylon 6/6 prices with the least financial losses.
To learn more about the properties and uses of Nylon 6/6 (as well as other important types of Nylons), check out this informational website.