Global demand for nylon 6/6 resin is expected to remain strong, even as supplies of the material remain tight, according to an executive with materials maker Invista.
"There's a need for the unique characteristics" of nylon 6/6, intermediates president Bill Greenfield said in a recent interview with Plastics News. The automotive market is accounting for a large amount of growth, he added, although demand also has been strong from the electrical/electronic sector.
Nylon 6/6 capacity has been tight worldwide for the last 18 months as a result of strong demand and inadequate supplies of adiponitrile (ADN) feedstock. This tightness has led to higher nylon 6/6 prices and longer shipping times, and competing suppliers have offered alternate materials as replacements.
"The market has seen high demand and some production issues," Greenfield said. "We're working to bring as much (ADN) production on as we can."
"We know our customers have been approached with different materials, but we don't see demand being destroyed."
Wichita, Kan.-based Invista last month announced plans to build a $1 billion ADN plant in China. Construction on the plant would begin in 2020, with production starting in 2023.
Engineering work for the plant is underway. The plant will have a $1 billion price tag and annual production capacity of at least 660 million pounds. Company officials said last month that the last world-scale ADN plant was built 35 years ago.
In addition to its ADN plants, Invista makes nylon 6/6 resins at plants in Camden, S.C.; Kingston, Ontario; Rozenburg, the Netherlands; and Shanghai. Greenfield added that Invista in the future might add additional nylon 6/6 capacity to meet market needs.
"Over the last nine to 12 months, the (ADN) industry hasn't run well from a production perspective," he said. "Some of that was hurricane related, but we're supplying our customers and meeting their needs. And relief is coming."
ADN is used to make nylon resins, fibers and other specialty materials such as hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) for coatings. Over the past five years, Invista has invested more than $600 million in China to support the nylon market, including a 475 million pound capacity plant making nylon precursor hexamethylene diamine (HMD) and a 330 million pound capacity resin plant, at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park.
Invista ranks as one of the world's largest producers of fibers and related specialty chemicals and resins.