Marietta, Ga.-based startup company Nyltec Polymers is making pellets, primarily with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), that compete with Nylon 6. Branded as NyLester, the product is similar in durability, heat resistance and strength to nylon, but it’s less expensive to manufacture and is 100 percent recyclable.
Further, because Nyltec uses a process where dye completely saturates the resin, the color does not fade and is more consistent, claims Patrick Patin, president of Nyltec Polymers. It’s designed to have multiple applications in the molding industry.
“We’ve found a solution for recycled PET, which has had limited markets. We are upcycling this material into an engineering resin to expand its use,” says Patin.
Initially, there were technical barriers to work past. One big challenge was figuring out how to blend PET and nylon when they were melted.
“We ended up adding an agent (a compatibilizer) that allows the two materials to blend. It also increased the strength and durability. And because it was more homogenous, we could get more consistency from pellet to pellet as far as amount of content of each material,” explains Patin.
Since adding the compatibilizer, the product is testing at a higher pencil strength (force it can endure when stretched) and greater flexural strength (force it can endure by bending it) that is on par with nylon, says Patin.
The proprietary product is blended at 10 percent with 90 percent recycled PET. It’s sold for $1.35 to $1.50 a pound, while Nylon 6 can cost $1.50 to $1.70 a pound, according to Patin.
Since Nyltec’s January 2019 launch, the team has inked contracts with three customers and continues reaching out to companies that do injection molding and compression molding that use Nylon 6.
TechTank LLC, an injection molding company, makes products such as automotive components, plastic fasteners and consumer goods from NyLester and is in the end stages of trials with most of the companies it works with that are interested in switching from Nylon 6, says Nickolas Peterson, director of sales and product development for TechTank. He says he is not at liberty to name end users yet.
“We have some very large accounts interested in this material and a few who have switched over. Replacing nylon with NyLester helps reduce their costs. We work in some cost-conscious markets, so any savings is a plus. Also, many companies like the idea of an ‘environmentally friendly’ material that they can tell a story about,” he says.
Patin currently works with compounder ACT (Advanced-Color Technologies), which blends recycled PET pellets with the additive. But he is looking to streamline the process by partnering with recyclers.
ACT would continue making the master batch. But recyclers would blend in the additive at an earlier stage—when they make pellets from flake. Blending the additive earlier would eliminate the additional step of blending after the pellet was made.
Patin is looking for recyclers around the world and says he has had some interest from China, Korea, Egypt and Bangladesh.
“They are calling me for samples of our product. We would probably sell them master batches to blend with their PET, which would reduce their shipping costs,” says Patin.
In his role with Aquadye Fibers, a polymer master batch development company, Ed Negola was working to develop textile fiber products for the carpet industry. During this time, he came up with the formula for NyLester, though it was by chance.
“I first invented the additive to enhance the dyability of textile products. I discovered by trial and error that this additive is equivalent to nylon. It made recycled PET more durable for the molding industry, and it didn’t stick to the mold. It was an aha moment that will mean recyclers will be able to broaden their markets for PET,” says Negola.
The vision is to market NyLester for higher-end applications such as under the hood automotive, gears, cams, containers and roto-molded tanks.
Charlie Kayne, president of Aquadye Fibers, is investing in Nyltec and is marketing NyLester for the startup company.
“Ed and I had been partners for about 40 years, and when we found what we could do with polymers beyond textile applications, we got excited,” he says.
Kayne and Negola later met Patin through a mutual business acquaintance.
“Patrick was looking to get into recycling polymers and had an excellent understanding of these materials. The three of us put the company together to further develop and test this additive for new applications,” says Kayne.
Kayne has been going to plants and trade shows and talking to recyclers and molders.
“We are trying to introduce a whole new polymer. While everyone I’ve spoken to likes the concept, it can take time to get them to learn about it and try something new,” he says.
He has samples ready to go and is hopeful.
“I feel once the word gets out that this is a better use for this waste material, people will want a Nyltec master batch to make use of their PET. I feel we will most likely have a large recycler on board in 2020,” he says.