Global auto companies are moving to stretch supplies of nylon-12, a resin critical to manufacturing fuel lines and other components, as they look for longer-term solutions to a supply crunch that threatens vehicle production.
The Wall Street Journal reported that parts makers and auto makers are collaborating on quick steps to deal with short supplies of the resin, following an explosion last month at a German chemical plant which cut worldwide output of nylon-12 in half.
Producers of vehicle parts that contain nylon-12 have already compiled a list of ways to substitute other materials now on the market in order to keep making fuel and brake lines, according to people familiar with the matter.
Earlier this month, a Michigan auto parts supplier, TI Automotive Ltd., warned of a high risk that the shortage of nylon-12 would force shutdowns at auto assembly plants within several weeks.
At the same time, auto makers are talking to other chemical manufacturers, including Dupont Co., BASF Corp., and Dow Chemical Co., about replacing nylon-12 with more readily available resins in the future, those people said.
DuPont has assembled a team to work with auto makers on increasing production of replacement materials. However, it will be up to the automakers to determine on a case-by-case basis which materials they will use.
“This will not be a one-size fits all,” DuPont spokeswoman Carole Davies said. “We are working closely with our customers to find the alternative materials that will work in specific applications.”
Dow Chemical said it does not make or manufacture nylon-12 but it has allocated “essential resources” to find alternatives that could replace the resin. One example of a replacement is nylon 6-6, a synthetic used in carpet fibers, zip ties and hoses.
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