Nylons and Acetals: 2005 News & Perspectives
Writing about these venerable
giants of the thermoplastics
industry is a
daunting task. Both materials have
been on the market longer than
most processors have been in business.
The millions of applications
that they have fulfilled over the years
span from the ridiculous to the sublime
and have encompassed every
marketplace on earth. Unless one is
secluded in a cave, nylons and
acetals touch all of our lives, everyday,
where we work, live and play. On
the surface it appears that everything
that can be said about nylons
and acetals has been said, but thatís
only on the surface.
To gain the 2005 perspective on
the market for these materials Iíve
spoken with resin suppliers, primary
and secondary processors and end
users. Everybody agrees on one
thing; prices are going up. We can fill
the next four pages detailing feedstock
supplies and the cost of a barrel
of oil and explain how a soccer
momís SUV is to blame; or we can
look at the upside.
Nylons and acetals are subject to
the same economic principles as
everything else. Itís a question of
supply and demand. The current
supply of both materials has been
adequate even though we see some
short-term delays from time to time.
New global capacity is coming on
line for both materials to keep pace
with continued growth expectations.
But current demand is rising faster
than new capacity can accommodate.
Thatís right, after over 6 and 4
decades respectively, nylons and
acetals are in high demand and this
demand is reflected in the current
pricing of the products. Our only
hope is that demand can remain high
as resins find their normalized price
levels as capacity increases.
A few of the people that I spoke
with expressed an opinion that nylons
and acetals are becoming the next
generation of commodities. Shame on
those that would perpetrate such a
myth. Engineering resins only become
commodities when the marketplace,
you and I, undersell their value and
stop investing in their development
and expansion into new markets.
Keeping these materials at the forefront
of development is of direct benefit
to the entire industry, whereas
promoting them as commodities only
benefits those with the illusion of
being the low cost producer.
Looking into the markets, one
innovative global manufacturer
stands above the crowd in the number
of processes and new material
developments that they offer in
both nylons and acetals. Their products
manufactured with nylons and
acetals include extruded stock
shapes, extruded engineered profiles,
extruded thin gauge sheets
and strips, precision injection molded
components, heavy section cast
nylons and punched washers or
spacers. Within the last year Ensinger
/ Penn Fibre Plastics Inc. has
made significant new nylon and
acetal offerings across their
processes to meet new demanding
Extruded Stock Shapes:
Larger inventories of rod, plate and tube are available in
standard grades of both materials to meet the accelerated
demand in the markets. Large sheets have grown from
8 into 10 foot lengths to maximize yield for the fabricator.
New nylons were announced at the K Fair in October
aimed at the public transportation sectors. These new
materials have UL94 V2 ratings and are currently being
machined into aerospace applications for commercial
Acetal developments included the release of new antimicrobial
formulations employing silver ion technology and a
large stocking inventory of colored acetal rods in medical
and standard grades ready for immediate shipment.
Extruded Engineered Profiles:
Nylon profiles for automotive applications are becoming
more viable by utilizing new high temperature and reinforced
nylons that can handle the under-hood environments.
Acetal profiles provide improved wear and friction
resistance in a wide array of markets that include automotive,
industrial food handling conveyors and construction
Extruded Thin Gauge Sheets And
The thin section market has been a hotbed of activity with
new nylons and acetals for the last several years. New advancements
into thermoforming materials continue to lead the way.
New nylons have just been released to the market with
improved mechanical and thermal properties for both the
fabricator and the thermoformer. UL94-V2 materials are
readily available and V0 grades are soon to appear.
Thermoformers saw the first homopolymer acetal in
2003 and this year theyíve been introduced to the first
glass reinforced copolymers acetals for forming. Thin section
copolymers with silver ion antimicrobials are soon to
be released in both fabrication and thermoforming grades.
Precision Injection Molding:
Injection molders are receiving the same demands for property
enhancements as extruders. Like markets are seeking
UL94 V0 rated nylon materials for the transportation sectors.
Again, antimicrobial acetals are getting a warm reception.
One new project involved antimicrobial properties in
custom molded components for conveyor systems.
Improvements in process technology and tooling design
allow injection molders to make nylon and acetal products
with thicker wall sections than in the past, allowing for
heavier structural products.
Cast rods, plates and tubes are enjoying continued market
success, as are heavy section custom cast products.
Advancements in process technology and resin additives
are sparking a revival of cast nylon products into even
more demanding high end applications than in the past.
With nylon and acetal product lines so broad, global manufacturing
and distribution and a dedicated commitment to
further development of both the materials and the processes,
itís easy to see how this company has become the global
champion, of not only nylon and acetal processing but
also of market introductions in these material families.
The perspective on nylons and acetals this year is mixed
blessings. Prices will continue to rise but may be offset by
selling the intended value of the product. Low cost producers
will recognize that thereís always somebody cheaper.
Leaders will lead with cross-market development and penetration
by offering new materials with enhanced properties.
Written by Michael J. Gehrig, General Manager, Ensinger
/ Penn Fibre Plastics Inc.
For additional information about nylon and acetal products
contact Bruce Dickinson, Ensinger, Inc., One Main
Street, Grenloch, NJ 08032, 856-227-0500, E-mail:
For more information,