Globally, Solutia (St. Louis, MO; www.solutia.com) is the second-largest producer of PA66, and in China, it is the number one supplier. While the company sold just shy of $1.9 billion in nylon last year, more than half of the total 2007 revenue, it recently announced it is looking to merge or sell its nylon business while it concentrates on specialty films, fluids, and its Saflex glass interlayer.
There is no set timetable for the sale, according to Craig Yeager, Vydyne Compounding product manger. In the interim, he told IMM, there has been, and will be, no slowdown in new product development. “We are reinventing and refining Vydyne products, enhancing the product portfolio to the point where we will be producing about 80% resin products and 20% carpet fibers by 2010.” In 2003, these figures were reversed.
As an example, Yeager points to Vydyne GW350 introduced this year, which has a glow wire ignitability temperature (GWIT) of more than 775°C minimum and enhanced melt flow. Most competitive products reach only 600°C, but European IEC regulations set the standard at 775°C for reflow-solder-capable materials, and the new grade is targeted at electrical components used in appliances. Also, an impact-modified grade of Vydyne will launch later this year and be followed by a flame-retardant, glass-filled option in 2009.
Vydyne's competitive advantages include the fact that the polymer is produced from intermediates that Solutia makes, so quality and consistency are ensured throughout the production chain, according to Bob Jacobs, North American sales manager. “Being integrated with our intermediate supply also enables us to remain competitive on pricing,” he adds.
Demand from automotive suppliers in China is accelerating, according to Jacobs, and the past few months have seen even more growth. Solutia maintains technical support staffs in Asia, plus warehouses in Shanghai and Hong Kong to serve this increase in sales.