Polyketone (POK) – A Cost Efficient Material Option

Polyketone (POK) – A Cost Efficient Material Option

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Polyketone – A Cost-Efficient Option in this Tight Supply Environment

The Current Resin Shortage

Countless industries have felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the plastics industry is certainly no exception. Plastics play a critical role in a wide range of industries. The pandemic and the ongoing resin shortages have proven detrimental to the manufacturing supply chain as delays continue to occur.

The beginning of the lockdown forced many companies to halt production. When production resumed, uncertainty remained as every manufacturer prepared for continued disruptions and new challenges. As soon as things looked to be on the road to recovery, more difficulties arose when ice storms and power grid outages in Texas continued to wound the plastics industry.

Back in February, a massive winter storm hit Texas along the Gulf Coast – an area that contains the world’s largest petrochemical complex. Since the ice storms shut all the factories down, it has taken months for plastic resin suppliers to get back on track. Today, manufacturers are still seeing the effects of this storm and the resin shortages on the supply chain and expect to for several months.

Many suppliers declared force majeure after these storms, which has allowed them to be relieved of certain supply-delivery commitments due to circumstances outside their control. A similar incident happened in 2018 with the Nylon 6/6 shortage, when there were nine force majeure declarations made within eight months due to an unprecedented Nylon shortage.

Once again, it truly feels as if the world is out of stock when it comes to everything plastic in 2021. Current supply outlooks for many resins, including polyolefins, polycarbonate, polyamides, polyacetal, and styrenics, are not promising. We expect lead times to remain long (over 12 weeks) through the summer of this year due to the COVID shutdowns, short staffing, weather-related issues, and the demand for these resins exceeding the supply available right now. Fortunately, unprecedented times often breed innovation and new solutions. Feeling the effects of a scarcity of resin material, those of us at PolySource have turned to polyketone.

Resin Material Alternative: Polyketone

Aliphatic polyketone refers to a family of high-performance thermoplastic polymers, often abbreviated as POK. POK is a versatile plastic with excellent mechanical properties, making it stronger and more resistant than most types of plastic. Are you feeling the effects of the resin shortage? If you are struggling to figure out how to fulfill customer demand to keep your facility running, POK might be the best resin material alternative for you.

At a time when plastic resins are in short supply, POK is plentiful. POK has already replaced ‘classic’ resin material options in many applications across several industries. We call POK “polyethylene on steroids,” and it is easy to see why: this type of plastic has exceptional resistance to chemicals and acids, it doesn’t absorb moisture, it doesn’t hydrolyze or lose molecular weight, and it can handle a broad range of temperatures and humidity. POK has a melting point of 220°C and has the most extensive yield strain, over 20% compared to other semi-crystalline polymers.

POK has been tested extensively for years and continues to impress plastic resin specialists. PolySource has developed brand-new high-impact POK grades expanding our existing offerings to help even with the most challenging supply issues. We put POK replacements to the test, which included (PA6, PA6 IM, POM IM, PA66, PA612 IM, POM) and were successful each time.

The PolySource Design Funnel

Are you a plastic manufacturer looking for new material? What plastic material are you currently using, and do you think POK would be a good alternative? At PolySource, we utilize what we call the Polysource Design Funnel, which affects the physical, chemical, thermal, mechanical, and regulatory requirements. We ask questions to help you figure out what type of plastic you need for your particular product.

Afterward, PolySource provides you with material options that are a proper fit for your product. Over the years, we have found that POK is almost always a perfect substitute for any previously used resin material. Another advantage to POK is it can be a drop-in with existing processing machines, injection, and extrusion, and no need for any screw or die and mold modifications.

Moving Forward

The current resin shortage due to unprecedented events has introduced many challenges to the plastics industry. With things not expected to be back on track within the year, it is necessary for many working within the industry to find more innovative solutions. POK offers customers exceptional value, and we may even see a trend in consumers favoring polyketone as their resin of choice.

PolySource understands the importance of high and consistent quality and service, and even in times of uncertainty, we remain steadfast and ready to make your manufacturing goals a reality. Contact PolySource today to learn more about the benefits of POK and what it can do for your product.