Akro-Plastic offers up substitute for nylon 6/6

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Photo by Akro-Plastic GmbH A cross section of a cooling pipe made using Akromid B+.

A German compounder is touting a special grade of nylon 6 that could be a replacement for nylon 6/6, a widely used engineering thermoplastic.

Akro-Plastic GmbH said in a news release that it developed Akromid B+, a modified nylon 6 with some properties comparable to nylon 6/6. Akro-Plastic says it has available for sampling Akromid B+ compounds reinforced with glass fibers at levels of 30 to 60%.

The Niederzissen, Germany-based company claims an Akromid B+ grade loaded at 50% glass fibre achieves the same strength at 176º F as a conditioned nylon 6.6 GF50 with breaking stress of about 16,700 pounds per square inch. Stiffness is almost the same as the 6/6 resin, according to Akro-Plastic.

"Our new polymer-modified [nylon] 6 grade is priced between [nylon] 6/6 and 6 and thereby opens up considerable savings potential," said Thilo Stier, Akro-Plastic's head of innovation and sales, in a news release. The release publicizes Akro-Plastic's plans for the Fakuma trade show, to be held 16-20 Oct in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Besides, Akromid B+, Akro-Plastic said it will feature plastic-metal composites and other plastic developments.

Nylon 6/6 demand worldwide is exceeding supply and its prices are climbing. The engineering resin is widely used in automotive and other parts. Besides high demand growth, shortages of key raw material adiponitrile are causing very tight supply of nylon 6/6.

Producers plan to add more ADN production capacity but they warn ADN supplies could be tight at least until the end of this year. ADN is converted to hexamethylene diamine, a direct feedstock to make nylon 6/6. Adipic acid is the other direct feedstock to make the resin. Several methods are used to make adipic acid from raw materials like phenol, benzene, butadiene and propylene.

Nylon 6's main feedstock is cyclohexane, mainly derived from benzene, also the key feedstock for styrene and thus polystyrene. Most producers convert cyclohexane into caprolactam which is easily polymerized to nylon 6. Several other routes are available to make caprolactam and these can use different starting materials such as phenol or toluene.

Many resin companies make nylon 6. In Europe the majors include BASF, Lanxess and Radici. In North America, major producers are Honeywell, BASF and DSM, but several smaller producers are also players. Although nylon 6 is also widely used as an engineering material, much installed nylon 6 capacity is directed to textile fiber production. In addition to plastic molding, nylon 6/6 also finds use as a reinforcing cord in vehicle tires.

Akro-Plastics is expanding its compounding capacity in Niederzissen, including new capacity for long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics that reportedly will come on stream in the third quarter of this year. Expansions are also underway in Brazil and China.

Akro-Plastic is part of Feddersen Holding GmbH. A sister company, Feddem GmbH & Co. KG, makes twin-screw extruders that Akro-Plastic will install in its expansions.

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