Nylons are one of the most common polymers used as a fibre. Another name for this material is polyamide, due to the characteristic amide groups in the backbone chain. Nylon 6 is made from caprolactam and nylon 6,6 is made from adipic acid. About 24% of nylon 6 is used in engineering resins and the rest in nylon fibres.

Nylon 6 fibres are made into textile, carpet and industrial yarns. Nylon 6,6 is a general purpose extruded grade of nylon that is tough, has good electrical insulating properties and noise dampening characteristics. Nylon resins are noted for their performance properties including high tensile strength, excellent abrasion, chemical and heat resistance, and low coefficient of friction. Hence they are used in engineering plastics with applications in the automotive industry, electronics and industrial components and films for food packaging, as well as fabric, carpeting, sportswear and recreational equipment.

In Europe, demand for engineering resins has been growing strongly although it has now slowed to 4-5% per annum, while the nylon fibres market is mature at 1-2% per annum growth.

In Asia Pacific, the nylon report covers price movements of five nylon 6 textile grade yarns and two nylon 6 industrial grade tire cord yarns, mostly produced in Taiwan and Korea. Major market participants are in Korea, Taiwan and Japan with numerous joint venture plants throughout the region. As production moves to lower cost areas, capacity is being added in southeast Asia. Domestic trade dominates the market as only 30% of production at the numerous plants in the region is exported. Most new nylon capacity is coming in China . Competition from Chinese producers and shrinking domestic demand in Korea have led large Korean producers to reduce production to 70% of capacity in recent years.

In the US, an important outlet for nylon is the automobile industry, particularly for under-the-hood applications and air-bags, followed by textile, carpet, industrial yarns, film, cable coating and electronics.

Nylon 6,6 accounts for over half of North American nylon production, divided into fibres and engineering resins. Some nylon consumers favour nylon 6,6 because of its properties of heat and chemical resistance and formability.  Automakers say it offers better characteristics for intake manifolds, fan shrouds, fuel vapour canisters, air cleaners and radiator end-tanks.

ICIS pricing quotes nylon in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the USA.

To find out more Nylon Methodology January 2013

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