Worldwide Shortages of Nylon 6/6 Impacting Cables Ties Prices
Currently, there is a shortage of nylon 6/6 worldwide. This is because there is a shortage of the key precursor Adriponitrile (ADN). Nylon 6/6 is used extensively to make automotive parts, as well as cable ties for electricians and data specialists, power tools, nylons, fabric, fasteners and is used in numerous industrial applications.
Nylon 6/6 is an established material which provides the best mix of process-ability, performance and value for the price for these applications. The result of this shortage is global prices impacting range of products sold in retail hardware and trade markets.
Why has this happened?
1. Damage to various ADN processing plants due to fires, explosions. E.g. China, USA and England.
2. Planned processing plant shutdowns to allow upgrades. E.g. USA and Germany.
3. Weather Events Has Affected ADN production.
Extreme weather events has also had an adverse impact on daily production targets. e.g. Low water levels on the Rhine River due to heatwave in Germany, Tropical Storms in USA. Also, freezing weather has impacted precursor ingredient production in the USA.
4. Increased in Global Demand for Nylon 6/6.
This increase has been seen notably in the automotive industry. Nylon 6/6 is resistant to heat as well as oil and grease. It is also light weight making to reduce fuel consumption in vehicles. The increase in the manufacture of airbags alone is expected to increase the need for nylon 6/6 by 6-8% annually. But most nylon 6/6 is used to make air intake manifolds, electrical components and oil pans. It is also used widely in other industrial and consumer applications.
5. Price Increases.
The prices have been rising year on year since 2018. Further price increases are expected. Supplies of nylon 6/6 are expected to be remain tight throughout 2021.
How Is this Shortage Challenge Being Addressed?
1. Alternative Materials Substitutions.
6/6 suppliers have suggested using alternative materials at least in the short term. Chief among these are nylon 6, PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) and PPA (polyphthalamide) as well as nylon 6/6 blends containing glass or increased use of recycled material. However, these “replacement” materials may be even more expensive than the rising price of nylon 6/6
2. Increased Production outputs (most to come online 2022 and 2023).
Ascend plans a 360 million lb. expansion in the product stream by 2022.
Invista is investing $1 billion dollars in a new plant in China that is due to come on-line by 2023. It is expected to add 661million lb. of ADN to the supply stream
Plant retrofits by Ascend and Butachemie in 2019 will result in a 10% increase in output of ADN.
BASF is buying Solvay’s polyamide business which should increase output.
These investments and others are hoped to increase the availability of nylon 6/6 to meet current and future material requirements. But most observers believe there will be a shortage through at least 2021 and maybe beyond. Until supply meets demand, prices will continue to increase.