Polyamides (PA) are used broadly and abundantly in nearly every industry. The five main types of polyamides — 6, 66, 11, 12, and 46 — are mainstays in producing everything from toothbrushes and tennis racket strings to medical implants and engine gears and components.
Excellent thermal resistance coupled with good chemical resistance and high flowability make polyamides the material of choice for numerous applications. Additional capabilities such as high abrasion resistance, machinability, fatigue and creep resistance, and good noise dampening capabilities make polyamides extremely versatile. PA 66 incorporates all of these desired characteristics with a high melting point, fast cycling times, and improved chemical resistance to hydrocarbons — making it a preferred plastic material among design and materials engineers.
The late-February storm in Texas that shut down 80% of U.S. resin production1 only underscored the popularity and already fragile supply chain of PA 66. Availability dissipated. Prices skyrocketed. Manufacturers, injection molders, and others dependent upon the plastics industry have continued to scramble to find PA 66 alternatives.
Given that PA 6 was initially developed as a polyamide comparable to PA 66, the natural assumption is that PA 6 is a fitting substitute. For some applications, this may be the case. However, the differences in chemical structure between PA 6 and PA 66 keep it from being a universal truth.
As such, key characteristics such as heat deflection temperature, mold shrinkage, water absorption rate, and crystallization rate all differ. Choosing one over the other typically comes down to the needs of the application, but PA 66 is predominantly selected for high-performance applications. The ability of PA 66 to provide the necessary stiffness and modulus over long periods of repeated use and its performance at high temperatures generally win the confidence of manufacturers and molders alike.
Heavy reliance on PA 66 only exacerbates the challenge to find PA 66 alternatives during crisis points like the current resin shortage. Understandably, many engineers favor standard grades.
Advances in plastics material technology are widening opportunities. Collaborations between materials chemists, industry experts and engineering teams are expanding. The goal? To find and formulate solutions that emulate — and sometimes surpass— the properties of PA 66, including:
While these PA 66 alternatives are suitable for a variety of industries including automotive, electrical and electronics, industrial, consumer products, and more, some may even prove to be better solutions for your particular application.
Our comparison table, Top 5 Material Alternatives to PA 66, provides valuable insights that compare advantages and disadvantages of the high-performance engineered plastics, and even offers Teknor Apex product recommendations. It’s all the practical information you need to make informed decisions during uncertain times in the plastics industry. Click the button below to access this helpful resource.