DSM Engineering Plastics

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The PA66 shortage continues: How to find a drop-in solution for your production process

4 February 2019
  • Ralph RamaekersBusiness Director Stanyl

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.

 

Alternative materials for drop-in solution 

At DSM, we believe there has to be a better option. That’s why we have been working to develop alternative materials that can work as drop-in solutions for PA66. Our Akulon® IG series is a portfolio of material grades made by combining the strength of PA6 and PA46 – two materials that are fully independent of the Adiponitrile/hexamethyldiamine supply. Instead, these materials are made from building blocks that are available with no supply issues. The Akulon IG material is heat-stabilized and available with varied glass content to work as a drop-in replacement for PA66 across a variety of applications.

PA46 is an aliphatic polyamide with a melting point of 295°C – even higher than PA66. By combining PA46 with PA6, we can tune the new polymer to match PA66’s 260°C melting point, and to match its mechanical properties, with improved performance in stiffness, strength and heat ageing behaviour in hot air and oil.

The Akulon IG series is designed to be a drop-in solution into existing PA66 tooling. It is competitively priced versus current PA66 pricing, enabling manufacturers to effectively and affordably switch materials with minimal interruption to production. Samples are available, and we back the material with significant test data, as we do with all of our material sales.

Talk to us today about how we can help you determine the ideal drop-in solution to replace PA66 in your manufacturing process.

Explore Akulon IG series PA6/46 blend material properties in comparison to PA6, PA66 & PA46

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