The global polyamide 66 (PA66) shortage continues. Brought on by the global capacity shortage in the production of Adiponitrile, a pre-cursor to the hexamethyldiamine (HDMA) monomer that has been in short supply since the beginning of 2018, the PA66 shortage is expected to last into 2020 – and likely beyond.
For customers whose products rely on PA66 to deliver high temperature resistance and excellent mechanical properties, this shortage puts their business at risk. To continue manufacturing, they either need to pay a premium to acquire PA66 – if they can find a reliable supply, or find an alternative material – ideally one that will not require costly re-tooling of their production process.
Many manufacturers have already switched to Akulon PA6 for their parts, which can replace PA66 in many applications like air intake manifolds, cylinder head covers or oil pans. Yet, it is unable to replace PA66 in certain applications requiring short term high heat exposure due to its melting point of 220°C, which is 40°C below the melting point of PA66.
In such situations manufacturers are considering PPA as an alternative material. While PPA has a peak temperature even higher than PA66, the material is not without its issues. First, PPA is already priced higher than PA66. Second, it relies on the same HDMA building block as PA66, so as the supply of this pre-cursor continues to experience pressure, we will continue to see price increases for all the materials that rely on HDMA as an input. Finally, PPA will not work as a drop-in solution for most applications, instead requiring the manufacturer to invest in re-tooling to keep production going.