Expert's Opinion

Dow Experts Discuss Industrial Coatings

July 19, 2011

Robert Crawford and Marie-Josée Déry-Chauvette provide insight into today’s industrial coatings marketplace.

Coatings World: Has the market for industrial coatings experienced growth in the past year?

Raphael Crawford, global marketing director, Dow Coating Materials: The market is recovering from the 2008 economic decline. The strengthening of the global economy, urban expansion, government investment in public works and continued growth in the energy sector are fueling activity globally that will require not only more coatings, but coatings that perform at or above current levels with less environmental impact.

Coatings World: Which application segments (onshore oil and gas, commercial architecture, industrial maintenance, etc.) represent the most opportunity in terms of value?

Marie-Josée Déry-Chauvette, global strategic marketing manager, industrial coatings, Dow Coating Materials: The growth curve for specific application segments will vary by region. However, we do expect opportunity across the board when it comes to infrastructure. Whether it be new build or maintenance and “rebuild,” opportunity in this segment is being driven both by reinvestment in aging infrastructure and the rapid expansion of populations and economies in regions that require new roads, bridges, highways and potable water/waste water treatment facilities. Africa and Asia fall into the latter category. Right now, the number of people living in Chinese cities is greater than the population of the entire U.S. Additionally, it’s estimated that by 2040 India’s population will surpass that of China’s.

Increasing demand for energy is another megatrend that will affect all regions. Continued and accelerated development of traditional and alternative energies will drive investment in wind, oil and gas exploration, and more. The infrastructure we put in place to tap these energy sources will increasingly require coatings that can withstand aggressive environments while respecting both voluntary and regulatory efforts to minimize environmental impact. 

Finally, a strengthening of economies will automatically drive demand for goods; thus, as the economy continues to rebound and grow, we will see that translate into more building and rebuilding of supporting infrastructure, with impacts on both manufacturing and transportation such as marine and container coatings for example.

Coatings World: What geographic areas present the most opportunity for growth for industrial coatings manufacturers?

Crawford: The geography with the highest growth rates across segments remains the Pacific. Having said this, each region has areas of growth and strength in specific segments that require investment. For example, Western Europe and the U.S. are regions with high concentrations of aging infrastructure that will need repair or replacement while rapidly growing cities like Mumbai and Mexico City will need new infrastructure. In the energy space, we will see more activity in areas that subjects to extreme weather conditions, for example harnessing wind power in Antarctica.

Coatings World: How has environmental legislation affected the market for industrial coatings? Do you see a move from solvent-based coatings to using more water-based (acrylic and alkyd) coatings?

Déry-Chauvette: We can only expect more environmental legislation and self-regulation as we move down the value chain. This is a growing opportunity for upstream suppliers who can provide innovative technologies. It’s an opportunity that will grow at a significantly faster rate than the overall industrial coatings market. It’s already starting with the trend toward water-based coatings. Water-based technologies offer a viable alternative to solvent-based technologies in targeted applications and conditions. However, the route to attaining low volatile organics (VOCs) can be achieved by more than one technology or concept. Coatings manufacturers that partner with technology providers that offer multiple solutions will be in the best position to grow.

Coatings World: What new products has Dow Coatings Materials recently launched for the industrial coatings marketplace?

Crawford: Dow recently launched Fastrack HE-2706 Acrylic Binder for traffic paint. This is an emulsion polymer for waterborne systems that matches the drying speed, durability, hiding and visibility performance of solventborne systems while releasing less VOC and using less latex and TiO2. Traffic paints formulated with Fastrack HE-2706 Acrylic Binder allow for VOC levels as low as 0.8 pounds/gallon. The bigger picture benefit, which will be very significant in rapidly urbanizing areas, is the ability to mark new roadways faster and with less traffic interruption.
In addition, we have recently launched several new products stemming from our line of Prosperse Waterborne Dispersions. The technology driving innovations under our dispersions product line is all about broadening low VOC options to encompass epoxies and other chemistries. We’re achieving this through the use of multiple dispersion processes, including Bluewave Technology, a proprietary mechanical dispersion process developed by Dow for producing water-based dispersions from a variety of polymers. We’re very excited about this product line because it facilitates lower solvent formulations without sacrificing any performance characteristics, including key properties like water resistance, hardness development, adhesion and dry time. Currently, we have commercialized a family of Prosperse Waterborne Epoxies. These are for primer and mid-coat metal application. Prosperse Waterborne Epoxies are solvent-free, being manufactured without the use of solvent, allowing the formulator maximum control and flexibility over the amount of solvent in the final coating product.

Coatings World: What’s in store for the future?

Crawford: We see industrial coatings as an area in which we can contribute our strong and diverse knowledge in chemistry and material science to the benefit of our customers and the members of the full value chain. We are investing our expertise in this area and are in it for the long haul. You will soon see new innovations that will address and deliver the new performance and environmental requirements of the industry.

When you move away from solventborne paint ingredients, there is no silver bullet. We will continue to develop low and no VOC alternatives that address application specific problems and solutions through multiple technologies. Fastrack HE Binder is a great example of this approach at work. It is application-specific to the traffic paint market and combines multiple technologies to address the key needs in this market including durability, visibility and fast-drying times all without the help of solventborne ingredients. 

Many of these leverage our Bluewave technology and other proprietary technologies at the molecular level. When we combine innovative chemistries with innovative processes we increase customers’ willingness to try a new technology or reformulate. Moving forward, we will focus on areas of critical need in the market place, such as low VOC coatings that can withstand increasing temperature extremes and severe climate conditions.

By leveraging these technologies at the molecular level, we can create and combine solutions to solve application-specific challenges, for example, low VOC coatings that can withstand the higher temperatures that result from deeper oil drilling. Or, coatings that accommodate changing water management strategies. The other piece of the puzzle is input from our customers. We are committed to the industrial market and always very interested in learning from our customers.
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