Chemical Profile: Nylon 6

30 October 2006 00:00  [Source: ICB Americas]

DEMAND

2004: 1.48bn pounds 2005: 1.46bn pounds 2009: 1.47bn pounds, projected. Demand equals production plus imports (2004: 110m pounds 2005: 104m pounds) less exports (2004: 319m pounds 2005: 305m pounds).

GROWTH

Historical (2000-2005): 0.4% per year. Future: 0.2% per year through 2006.

PRICE

Historical (2000-2005): High, $1.93/lb., aver. ann., inj. mold. grade, bulk, Gulf Low, $1.23, same basis. Current: $1.74 to $1.87, same basis. Source: ICIS pricing

USES

Textile and industrial fibers, 71% injection molding resins (including automotive/truck parts, electrical parts, consumer articles), 16% extrusion resins (including film and coatings, nontextile monofilament, tubing and pipe), 13%.

MARKET PERSPECTIVE

Nylon resins belong to a group of high-performance plastics often referred to as engineering thermoplastics. These materials are noted for their outstanding properties, including high tensile strength excellent abrasion, chemical and heat resistance and low coefficient of friction. Thus, they have particular utility in performing mechanical duties that traditionally relied on metal parts. Nylon fibers are widely used in apparel, home furnishings and industrial uses, particularly in applications that require high tensile strength and abrasion resistance.

Overall demand for nylon 6 has been in slow decline over the past decade, but somewhat steady for the past five years. This is due to a drop in nylon 6 fiber production. Though the strong housing market has kept demand for residential carpeting at a high level, the demand for industrial carpeting has fallen because of the weak commercial construction and hotel industry markets. And recently, even the housing market is retreating. The Census Bureau reported that housing starts in August 2006 were down 6.0% from July and down 19.8% from August 2005. Building permits were down 2.3% and down 21.9% from one year ago.

Automobile and truck parts make up the largest market for nylon 6 engineering resins. Automotive applications for many plastics have been driven in recent years in the trend toward replacing metal parts with plastics, in order to reduce weight and costs. Automotive applications of nylon 6 resins include exterior body components (e.g., louvers, mirror housings and wheel covers), under-the-hood components (e.g., fan blades, emission control canisters, and reservoirs for brake and power steering fluids) and numerous mechanical components. The consumption of nylon 6 resins for automotive applications is expected to continue at above GDP rates as designers become accustomed to using nylon instead of metal for an increasing variety of automotive components.

Other growing nylon 6 resin applications include: film and extrusion coatings, electrical and electronic parts, wire and cable coatings, and accessories for hardware, furniture and appliances.

OUTLOOK

The outlook for nylon 6 is about average for a mature commodity chemical. US nylon 6 resin demand is growing at 3%/year, but this is nearly offset by the 1% decline in the fiber sector, which is almost three times as large. Aggregate US nylon 6 demand is projected to increase 0.2% per year to reach 1,535 million pounds in 2009. Global demand, however, is increasing 2-2.5% per year, which is attributed to Asian activity, mostly in China.

US Nylon 6 CAPACITY,
Millions of LBs./year
Company Location Capacity
Nylon Resins
BASF Freeport, Tex. 135
Custom Resins Henderson, Ky. 30
DSM Chemicals Augusta, Ga. 33
DuPont Parkersburg, W.Va. 350
EMS-Chemie Sumter, S.C. 11
Honeywell Resins and Chemicals Chesterfield, Va. 225
Nylon Corporation of North America Manchester, N.H. 27
Shakespeare Columbia, S.C. 6
Total nylon 6 Resin817
Nylon Chip and Flake for Fiber
Beaulieu of America Bridgeport, Ala. 40
Honeywell Resins and Chemicals Hopewell, Va. 210
Shaw Industries Aiken, S.C. 120
Shaw Industries Anderson, S.C. 170
Shaw Industries Clemson, S.C. 160
Shaw Industries Columbia, S.C. 145
Total Nylon 6 Chip and Flake845
TOTAL1,662
SOURCE: ICBA

*Millions of pounds per year nylon 6. Nylon 6 is produced by the reaction of caprolactam with water (producing the intermediate, aminocaproic acid), and then polymerized by condensation.

Production capacities at Custom Resins, Henderson , Ky., DuPont, Parkersburg, W.Va., and Shakespeare Company, Columbia, S.C., are also used to manufacture nylon 66, which is produced by reacting adipic acid with hexamethylenediamine.

In October, 2005, Honewell sold its nylon fiber manufacturing operations in Anderson, Clemson and Columbia, S.C. to Shaw Industries Group, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. As part of the deal, Honeywell agreed to supply Shaw with caprolactam (to make nylon 6) and nylon 6 flake.

Custom Resins is a subsidiary of Polymeric Resources Corp.


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Profile last published Jan. 19, 2004





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