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5th October 2018, Paris

Shortage results in unprecedented PA 6.6 price

The price of PA6.6 resin has increased by EUR 1,500 per ton in the past 18 months, and GPA, the association of French automotive plastic parts makers, is warning that a PA 6.6 shortage is causing significant difficulties for manufacturers of parts for the automotive industry.

Only five sites worldwide produce adiponitrile – one of the key components required to PA 6.6 – one in France, one in Japan and three in the United States.  A number of plastics manufacturers have recently declared Force Majeure, interrupted their production of PA 6.6 and imposed quotas on their customers.

Cylinder head cover. © GPA

“This material has been registered by carmakers for its technical properties, and the processes to approve new materials makes it very difficult to find alternative solutions in the short term,” says GPA president, Luc Messien.

The material is being adopted for use in an increasing number of applications, in particular in electronics, while at the same time becoming scarcer.

PA 6.6 is highly resistant to high temperatures, which is the reason it is used in parts inside the engine compartment, such as air supply systems, filtration and cooling systems, and in other interior parts, from pedal units to door handles.

The plastic automotive suppliers are asking the plastics manufacturers to quickly open new production lines and to secure their supply chain.

“Breakdowns in the supply of PA 6.6 are due mainly to the fragility of the supply chain,” says GPA managing director Armelle Dumont. “Today, only 55% of Europe’s PA 6.6 production capacity is available. At the same time, current demand requires an increase in the production capacity. Hasn’t the time come to speed up investments in Europe and renovate the existing lines?”

HP component. © GPA

Finding alternatives is a complex matter, because the replacement materials must meet the same functional specifications. The materials that meet this condition are often even scarcer and more expensive. What’s more, the processes to approve new materials take a very long time.

“We are asking the carmakers to help us, in particular by shortening their approval processes,” says Dumont. “These shortages of materials mean that supplies to certain members of the GPA will dry up at the start of 2019, a situation that could put the complete production chain in peril. We regret this situation, but we do not have a solution for the time being.”

Tier 1 and 2 automotive plastic suppliers are the victims of an unsustainable scissors effect, he adds brought on by the rise in the price of PA 6.6, the quotas and the refusal of customers to pay for a part of these price hikes.

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