Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by Verity Michie of Mintec.
While the story that the name for nylon came from a combination of “New York” and “London” is a good one, it is unfortunately not true. Another tale is that nylon was originally named “no-run,” but that too comes without much justification.
If you try to think of the uses of nylon, you would normally just think of pantyhose or climbing rope, but did you know that modern tents are also made from nylon? At a time of year when many families will be packing up for a summer camping trip, we look at what is happening to the price of nylon.
Thirty-eight million Americans enjoy an annual camping trip, with the average break lasting nearly 2 weeks. For those who like to appreciate the great outdoors in the comfort of a tent, there is some good news! Camping could become cheaper this summer as the prices for tent materials have been falling more or less constantly since March 2011. Tents can be made from different materials, including canvas, cotton, polyester and nylon. Nylon tents are generally favored because they are lightweight and easy to handle, yet more durable than polyester tents, making them ideal for the annual family trip.
China is the world’s largest nylon producer and accounts for 55% of global production, followed by the US, which produces 25%. Although the US is the second largest producer, it also imports nylon from China. Nylon is a synthetic polymer derived from crude oil and is the second most produced man-made fiber, with polyester being the first. Seventy-five percent of nylon is used in textiles, including textiles for making tents.The nylon fibers are spun, stretched and crimped to improve their insulation and strength.
It is great news that this camping essential could be becoming cheaper, but why has the price of nylon fallen? The main reason for this is because of lower feedstock costs, particularly caprolactam. To produce nylon, crude oil is processed into a number of intermediate feedstocks, including benzene, cyclohexane and caprolactam. Throughout the Chinese market, there is a higher supply of caprolactam than demand. Additional production of caprolactam has been announced, so buyers are holding off on current purchasing in the belief that prices could fall further, creating low demand for nylon.
This is possible because manufacturers have the option of using different but similar materials to produce certain products.To save money, nylon can often be replaced by polyester. The production process of polyester is cheaper and prices are currently also falling due to low seasonal demand. Using polyester as a cheaper alternative may have added to the recent nylon price fall.
The price fall in China could lead to US price drops for camping holidays, but it is unknown how long this will last. With the hot weather upon us, it could be that demand will increase and nylon prices will soon recover.