Invista to Exit Carpet Fiber Business Mid-Year
Kennesaw, GA, February 20, 2022-Last week, Invista informed many of its carpet fiber customers of its plans to cease production of nylon 6,6 carpet fiber by July of 2022. This marks the end of an era for a business that was started by DuPont over 70 years ago.
The Invista-owned production facility in Camden South Carolina will continue to produce nylon 6,6 polymer for use in the engineered plastics market but will stop converting that polymer into carpet yarn.
In the 1950s, DuPont started making nylon for carpet fibers in the form of a staple fiber and, in 1959, created the first BCF (bulk continuous filament). Nylon quickly revolutionized the carpet industry. In 1969, DuPont launched the Antron brand of nylon 6,6 carpet fiber in the commercial market. In 1986, it launched Stainmaster into the residential carpet market. Both brands were hugely successful in their respective markets.
Nylon 6,6 polymer has long been promoted as having better performance attributes to nylon 6. But profile or shape of fiber also contributes to performance. Antron has a four-hole hollow filament profile, while the common profile for nylon 6 is trilobal. For decades, Antron Legacy has been the leading brand of white dyeable carpet fiber, and Antron Lumena has been the leading brand of solution-dyed carpet fiber in the commercial market. Likewise, in the residential market, Stainmaster was the leading carpet fiber brand. Carpet produced with branded nylon 6,6 fiber has always commanded a higher price due to performance and longer life cycle.
In 2004, DuPont sold its Invista textile business to Koch Industries for $4.2 billion. Right about that same time, Invista’s carpet yarn business peaked at one billion pounds a year. At that peak, the firm’s nylon 6,6 fiber was used to produce commercial and residential carpets and rugs as well as automotive carpet.
Volume started to dwindle in the consolidated carpet market when the three largest mills (at the time), Shaw, Mohawk and Beaulieu, started producing their own carpet yarn. Demand was dealt an additional blow with the great recession of 2008. Today, demand for Invista’s nylon 6,6 carpet fiber is estimated to be around 60 million pounds. Invista’s sale of the Stainmaster brand to Lowe’s last year also negatively impacted demand, as Lowe’s started using the brand on carpets made with other fiber types. This move also forced independent retailers who compete with Lowes to drop the brand.
Invista’s customers for carpet yarn include Bentley Mills, The Dixie Group, Mannington Mills (for both its commercial business and its Phenix residential business), Tarkett, Shaw, Milliken and Mohawk (but with these last four, it’s for specialty products only).
As Invista exits the market, the four remaining independent suppliers of carpet yarn are Aquafil (nylon 6 only), Ascend, Universal Fibers and Syntec. Industry pundits tell Floor Focus that there is enough idle capacity of yarn production to absorb the loss of supply from Invista but not with nylon 6,6 fiber. This move by Invista will shift the industry to use more nylon 6 and less nylon 6,6.