Dow Chemical Co. was looking to broaden its presence in engineering plastics. Solutia Inc. was aiming to bolster the use of its Vydyne-brand nylon 6/6 resin in injection molded applications.
On Sept. 23, the companies met these needs by forming a partnership. Dow, of Midland, Mich., will become the sole compounder of St. Louis-based Solutia's nylon 6/6 for applications that serve such key markets as automotive and electrical/electronics. Dow also will distribute and sell Solutia's virgin nylon 6/6 to original equipment manufacturers.
``It's an alliance where everyone in the industry stands to benefit,'' Solutia's Ann McCorvey said in a news release. ``Solutia can tap into markets with enormous growth potential for its Vydyne nylon; Dow Plastics adds an important product to its portfolio; and the industry benefits from the increased growth of the engineering plastics market.''
McCorvey is Solutia's vice president and general manager for nylon resins and polymers.
The deal gives Dow its first presence in the nylon market. The company already produces such engineering resins as polycarbonate and ABS as well as engineering compounds based on polystyrene and polypropylene.
The partnership will produce nylon compounds at several North American sites, including Dow's joint venture plant with Cleveland-based M.A. Hanna Co. in Clinton, Tenn. It will manufacture the products in Europe at a Dow site in Terneuzen, the Netherlands.
Solutia previously had sold its nylon resin to dozens of independent compounders but was not making major inroads into injection molding markets, a company spokesman said. Dow's global connections in engineering plastics should improve Solutia's performance in this area, he said.
The partnership will allow Dow to take aim at under-the-hood automotive uses, including air-intake manifolds, according to Ken VanDerWende, global project manager for Dow Engineering Plastics. The automotive market accounts for more than half of North American nylon resin sales.
VanDerWende added the nylon compounds could fill a performance gap between Dow's Questra-brand syndiotactic PS and Inspire-brand PP resins.
``There's 3 billion pounds of global product needs we now can access,'' VanDerWende said.
Solutia has 300 million pounds of nontextile nylon 6/6 capacity in Pensacola, Fla., with about 75 percent of that total going into injection molding uses.
The company, which ranks second to DuPont in North American nylon 6/6 production, plans to add about 60 million pounds of capacity in 1999. It plans to add another 60 million-pound capacity expansion in 2000, but that could be increased if the Dow partnership blossoms.