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Published: April 2010
Total world consumption of nylon resins is forecast to increase at an average annual rate of about 4%. Reasonably good growth is projected to resume in 2010 in major markets such as automotive parts, industrial/machinery, electrical/electronics and film. In 2008 and 2009, the economic recession impacted markets globally, especially in the United States, Europe and Japan. In Japan, demand for engineering plastics such as nylon resins and polyacetal resin decreased by more than 40% during 2008–2009; however, Asian countries such as China had already recovered in 2009 and consumption is increasing rapidly.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of nylon resins:
A substantial and increasing amount of nylon resin is consumed in compounded form. Compounding with reinforcements, fillers, impact modifiers, flame retardants and other additives allows the nylon supplier to extend and/or tailor the properties of the resin to fit the price/performance requirements of a wider range of applications.
Increased use of reprocessed nylon fiber to make nylon resin compounds has extended the range of nylon resin applications into lower price/performance applications. Nylon 6 is less likely to crystallize and can be recycled many more times than nylon 66. A significant amount of resins sold in the merchant market may be a blend of virgin and reprocessed resin.
Automotive under-the-hood applications continue to represent a significant opportunity for increased use of nylon 66 resins. Nylon 6 finds significant use in film and wire and cable insulation (North American market). A recently developed application for automobile parts is intake manifolds. This part was previously made with aluminum ingots, and is being replaced by plastics such as nylon 6 or nylon 66 in order to reduce weight and obtain flexibility of design. Methods such as the lost core method, the vibration method and the die rotating method are used to make this part.
During 2000–2006, worldwide growth in nylon resin consumption was significantly lower than during 1994–1999. Overall demand continued to suffer from rising feedstock pricing beginning in 2005 and this was further compounded by the world economic crisis beginning in 2008. Nylon resin demand dropped an estimated 13% from 2006 to 2009 as automotive, construction and electronic industries were impacted. As of early 2010, industry reports only a small improvement and anticipates a slow recovery over the forecast period.
Growth in Europe and the United States during 2009–2014 is forecast to be 3.8% and 1.6%, respectively, while growth in Japan will be higher. In Japan, consumption in 2008 and 2009 was much smaller than in the previous year. China will see a high average annual growth rate of 7.5% because of the significant amount of current activity and also because many outside producers are establishing production facilities in China. In some regions, nylon resin is approaching maturity in the growth cycle.