US car industry announces guidelines for nylon 12 replacement

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US carmakers and suppliers have been investigating possible alternatives for nylon 12, after production of the material’s feedstock was hit by a fatal fire.

More than 30 companies – representing every link in the resin supply chain, as well as car manufacturers – worked with the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) to create interim guidelines that will provide a method to analyse and test other materials in place of nylon 12, the AIAG said.

The guidelines, formally called the design validation process and report (DVP&R), lay out specific requirements for replacements in areas such as tensile strength and elongation, chemical resistance, fuel exposure and other key performance issues.

Nylon 12 is used in fuel lines, connectors, tubes and other key components, but supplies have been running short in the wake of a fatal fire at Evonik Industries AG’s plant in Germany in March, which destroyed the plant making the feedstock cyclododecatriene (CDT) and cost the lives of two employees. The plant also supplied CDT to other nylon 12 makers.

Moulders and resin makers have offered a variety of potential replacements including other nylon materials and acetal and polyphenylene sulfide resins.

But without a standard validation and testing system in place, approval of those replacements may have been delayed – which in turn could affect automakers’ assembly plants.

The interim DVP&R approved through the AIAG work group should lower many of those hurdles and reduce the complexity of bringing new resins to the table.

The Ford Motor Company said it did not expect the nylon 12 shortage to affect its production, thanks to the efforts at AIAG as well as individual suppliers, according to spokesman Todd Nissen.

“We don’t expect any disruption,” Ford’s chief financial officer Bob Shanks had told reporters last month.

“We’re pretty clean. That’s largely due to the fact that we have alternative materials that we can use. There had been some materials the team had previously tested, but didn’t use them at that time, so we had material already on the shelf that we could use.”