Friedrichshafen, Germany — Ascend Performance Materials is working to alleviate a tight market for nylon 6/6 resin while it also introduced a new grade of the material at Fakuma 2018.
"The market is obviously tight," Scott Rook, nylon commercial operations vice president, said Oct. 16 at the event. "The message we're bringing to the market is that we're bringing on capacity. We want to meet the needs of the growing market."
Houston-based Ascend will add almost 90 million pounds of annual capacity for adiponitrile feedstock in Decatur, Ala., by the end of the year, and it will begin to add more capacity for the material there next year as well. That expansion of almost 400 million pounds should be online by 2022.
"Demand has been really steady," Rook said. "Our customers are looking for dependability and reliability. We don't want them to lose confidence in nylon 6/6."
In an Oct. 9 news release, Ascend officials said that it was "necessary to restate our commitment to meeting increased [nylon 6/6] market demand, supporting our customers and maintaining reliable operations" because of "conflicting reports on long-term nylon 6/6 availability."
Rook added Oct. 16 that Ascend has plans to add capacity throughout the nylon 6/6 chain, including resins and compounds, as well as adipic acid feedstock. The firm's resin plant in Pensacola, Fla., has been operating under force majeure since a July fire at the site. Rook said the plant now is at 90 percent operating rates and should be back to full production by the end of the year.
Global tightness in ADN has been caused by strong nylon 6/6 demand, as well as a lack of reinvestment in ADN capacity because of financial results that didn't justify further investment. Production issues at some ADN facilities also have contributed to supply challenges.
In Europe, Ascend's recently acquired compounding plant in Tilburg, the Netherlands, is running at full capacity. Ascend acquired the plant earlier this year when it bought Britannia Techno Polymer BV. BTP had made compounds for Ascend on a tolling basis for several years, Rook said.
Ascend officials previously said that the firm's facilities in Foley, Ala., and Greenwood, S.C., are producing at optimal levels to supply compounds and fiber.
At Fakuma, Ascend was focused on a new grade of Vydyne-brand nylon 6/6 aimed at reinforcing down-gauged steel and aluminum used in vehicle body in white structures, including stiffeners and crash inserts. Officials said that the new grade can help reduce weight without sacrificing safety or comfort.
The new material, which Rook said was commercialized earlier this year, also has improved energy absorption over traditional glass-filled nylon 6/6, reducing noise, vibration and harshness and absorbing impact energy from crashes.
"Balancing a reduction in weight with passenger comfort and safety has been a technical challenge," Senior Vice President of Technology Vikram Gopal said in a news release. "We're excited to bring a solution to market that meets manufacturers' drive toward efficiency with the consumer's desire for a safe, comfortable driving experience."