The economy may be weak, but not the entrepreneurial spirit. A major new nylon producer emerged at the National Plastics Exposition this week in Chicago. The new producer is Invista, a company that was formed more than five years ago from assets spun off from DuPont. Based in Wichita, KS, Invista is one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and fibers, primarily for apparel and carpeting and other applications. Brands include Stainmaster carpet and Lycra apparel, both once iconic names in the DuPont portfolio. The assets were purchased by Koch Industries as DuPont repositioned into other markets-a strategy still unwinding for many chemicals companies.
Invista has been selling polyester resins, including PBT-type polyester for engineering applications. Koch had signed a five year non-compete for nylon resins. That agreement has now expired, and Invista enters the market with a lot of nylon-producing firepower. “We’re taking a more focused approach by creating a simplified portfolio of products, each with the ability to perform in numerous applications,” said Kurt Burmeister, executive vice president on Invista’s engineering polymers business. “The benefits are economics of scale and customer flexibility, due to less complex operational systems and reduce inventory requirements.” Burmeister told Design News that Invista will sell a variety of compounded nylon products using an array of toll compounders operating as contract manufacturers. Emphasis will be on nylon 6,6.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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