DSM Engineering Plastics is taking aim at the film market with new grades of its Akulon-brand nylon resins.
``We're moving more to a nylon 6 focus and film is an important part of the nylon market,'' Vice President Steve Hartig said in a recent telephone interview from the firm's North American headquarters in Evansville, Ind. ``When we look at the market, we see room for another supplier.''
The North American nylon film resin market is dominated by BASF Corp. of Mount Olive, N.J., and AlliedSignal Inc. of Morristown, N.J. Film grades make up about 100 million pounds — more than 8 percent — of the annual North American nylon output of 1.2 billion pounds.
Demand for film-grade nylon resins is growing at an annual rate of 6-7 percent, Hartig said.
While DSM has marketed film grades in Europe for at least 10 years, its North American nylon output has been limited to injection molding grades.
The new materials will be supplied by European production operated by DSM's parent company — DSM NV of Heerlen, the Netherlands — until DSM Engineering Plastics opens a 30 million-pound-per-year nylon 6 plant in Augusta, Ga., later this year.
Initially, only a small percentage of the Augusta plant's output will be in film grades, but that share could climb to 25 percent in three to five years, Hartig said. The Augusta plant will begin operating in December and is scheduled for full production by early next year.
Nylon film has its own niche in the film market, which is dominated by low and linear low density polyethylene, Hartig said.
``Nylon produces good barrier-property film with high-temperature resistance for items like cooking bags,'' Hartig said. ``Obviously, if you put polyethylene in an oven bad things happen. Nylon is better because of its higher melt point.''
Hartig, whose firm posted global sales of more than $500 million in 1997, said he does not expect nylon film resins to compete with improved metallocene PE resins moving into the film market.
``There's not a lot of intermaterial competition,'' he said. ``They really go into different products.''
The resins, which are available in six grades for cast and blown film in various viscosities, also are used commonly in laminate applications.
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