Published July 2014
Caprolactam is used primarily in the production of nylon 6 fibers and nylon 6 engineering resins and films. About 57% of world caprolactam consumption is for nylon 6 fibers and around 25% is for nylon 6 resins and films. Nylon 6 fibers are used in the textile, carpet and industrial yarn industries. Nylon resins are used as engineering plastics, with applications in the automotive industry, specialty film packaging for food, and wire and cabling. In addition, this report covers caprolactam polymerized and sold as chip used in fiber or resin applications, which accounted for nearly 19% of total consumption in 2013.
In 2012, China became the world’s largest producer of caprolactam, and in 2014 accounts for about 30% of world capacity, followed by Western Europe with about 19%.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of caprolactam:
Chinese nylon fiber and resin production continues to expand rapidly. In 2013, Chinese caprolactam consumption eclipsed that of all other Asian countries combined and accounted for 33% of global demand. Estimated demand growth for caprolactam will be approximately 8.4% annually on strong overall nylon demand growth. In addition, an overabundance of caprolactam supply will drive prices down and provide greater stability to the nylon industry as a whole.
Other Asia (the Republic of Korea, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam) is the second-largest consuming region for caprolactam, at nearly 30% of global demand in 2013. The gradual shifts in nylon 6 textile fiber production to Asia, followed by development in automobile, plastics and electronics manufacturing away from more industrialized regions, have historically contributed to growth, but in recent years have begun to slow. The rest of Asia will experience only a 1% per year increase during the forecast period, including a 0.5–1% per year decline in Japan. Asia overall will account for 70% of global demand by 2018.
The Americas will experience an overall demand increase of less than 1% per year through 2018. Unlike Europe, however, exported chip declines out of the United States will be offset sooner by the addition of new engineering resin and compounding capacity. Nylon 6 engineering resins, especially those used in automotive applications, will continue to improve; however, slowing economic activity in Brazil and other parts of Latin America are likely to cause further drag on potential nylon demand growth.