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10-08-2018

PA66 Is Running Short

GPA Fears Stop of Assembly Lines

The GPA (the association of French automotive plastic partsmakers) is raising the alarm. The shortage of PA66 is putting the manufacturers of plastic parts for the automotive industry in serious difficulty. Furthermore, the price of this material has increased by more than 40% since 2017.

It is a structural problem. Only five sites worldwide produce adiponitrile, one of the components required to PA66: one in France, one in Japan and three in the United States. According to GPA numerous plastics manufacturers have interrupted their production of PA 6.6 and imposed quotas on their customers.

PA66 is a material at the heart of automotive parts, like this cylinder head cover. The price of this material has increased by more than 40% since 2017 (© GPA)

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

More Applications, Less Material

This material is used in increasing numbers of applications, in particular in electronics, while it is becoming scarcer at the same time.

PA66 is highly resistant to high temperatures, which is the reason why 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 PA66 are due mainly to the fragility of the supply chain. Today, only 55% of Europe’s PA66 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?”, adds Armelle Dumont, Managing Director of the GPA.

Looking for Alternative Solutions

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. 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!”, states Armelle Dumont.

The GPA is the organisation representing manufacturers that design and build components, modules and systems made of plastics and composites for the automotive industry. Its mission consists of promoting and defending the interests of the businesses it represents, their particularities due to the polymer shaping processes and the imperatives inherent on the automotive market.

The GPA is a member of the French Plastics Processing and Composites Federation and of the Automotive and Mobility section of the PFA (automobile platform).

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