The automotive industry continues to scramble to locate a suitable alternative material to replace PA-12 in applications such as tubing and hoses in brake lines, and injection molded components such as fuel quick connectors and other under-the-hood applications. While many material suppliers are working to find substitute materials to promote to the market during the shortage of PA-12, Rhodia Engineering Plastics division of Solvay Group, says it has a material alternative that has already proven its suitability as a drop-in solution for a variety of applications where PA-12 is typically used.
In an interview with PlasticsToday, Alan Dubin, Business Development and Technical Service Manager for Rhodia in North America, explained that the company began evaluating its TechnyleXten PA6.10 about 18 months ago, and finds that the material is a "versatile alternative to long chain polyamides such as PA-12."
"Technyl eXten is a bio-sourced material that is 65% synthesized from sources not using fossil fuel," Dubin said. "While some customers are interested in this as a part of their sustainability solutions, more recent interested has been generated by the shortage of PA-12."
When compared directly to PA-12, some of the properties are maintained but not all. "It's not an exact duplicate," stated Dubin. "It is a different material and customers and customers are aware of the differences and the benefits. In applications such air brake and pneumatic tubing, Technyl eXten comes close to the benefits of PA-12. For many existing PA-12 applications, we bring a true drop-in solution that will do the job. However, in applications involving gas and aggressive fuels it's still being evaluated. "
For injection molding applications, Dubin noted that about 18 months ago - long before the PA-12 shortage - the company used a 30% glass-filled PA6.10 and dropped it into a mold designed for PA-12 and "it worked virtually flawlessly - dimensionally and functionally." For extrusion applications shrink is less of a concern, he added. "If there's any difference at all it can easily be accounted for in the die that makes the tubing," he said.
Technyl eXten grades are available for either extrusion and injection molding, and are specifically suited to the manufacture of flexible tubes for the power-assisted control systems market and fittings and adapters for the engine fuel systems market, and bring improved mechanical property and chemical resistance performance as compared to PA-12.
The benefits of using Technyl eXten also include cost savings and to be able to have an alternative material so that OEMs are not dependent on one material. "Price-wise it's definitely less expensive, so there is a substantial cost saving if they can make the switch," Dubin said. "If you understand the differences in the PA6.10 and PA-12, you'll see the differences are not major so for most customers, it hasn't been a huge obstacle making that material switch."