Resins Market Update

By Bridget Klebaur, Associate Editor | April 15, 2014

The resins market for 2014 has continued to show signs of recovery from the economic downturn, and business is continuing to hold steady.

The resins market for 2014 has continued to show signs of recovery from the economic downturn, and business is continuing to hold steady.

Sylvia Insogna, North American marketing director, Dow Coating Materials, said that Dow is optimistic for the 2014 resins market. “As a whole, we are optimistic that the 2014 resins market will continue to show recovery, especially as the global architectural coatings market enters the growth mode, led by the rebounding U.S. housing market and continued growth in paint purchasing in emerging economies,” Insogna said.

John Hiel, North America marketing manager, Arkema Resins explained that the market is still in recovery from the past few years of economic turmoil. “The industrial resins market is slowly recovering from the economic downturn, but the results are mixed. Some segments, such as automotive and coil coatings are recovering more rapidly than others,” Hiel said. “The architectural coatings market showed mid- to high single-digit growth in 2013 as both the DIY and PRO sectors benefited from a rebound in the existing homes sales.  Unit turnover and property upkeep demands as a result of increased mobility of renters and homeowners were the drivers of gallon growth. Construction activity was strong too.”

Yasmin Sayed-Sweet, vice president of sales and marketing, Alberdingk Boley Inc. explained that they have seen improvements in the market over the past two years, although the growth is regional and is strongly dependent on the end use market.

Julie A. Fuell, sales director, Reichhold, said that they saw slight improvements this year.

“While we saw slight improvements in 2013 from the economic downturn, 2014 projections are more promising due to improved housing starts and overall GDP growth projections for the coatings sector.” Fuell said.

Steve Reiser, vice president of sales and marketing, Specialty Polymers Inc., explained that in 2013 the polymer business continued to recover from the economic downturn.

BASF noted that the coatings market is continuing to show slow growth that follows the GDP growth for 2014.

The Georgia-Pacific Chemicals coatings business held steady during the recent economic downturn.

“The feeling from our customers is that, in general, it has been a solid year, said Rod L. Smith, senior account manager coatings, Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC. “There is an increased focus on looking forward and on growth, rather than focusing on the impact of the downturn. At Georgia-Pacific Chemicals we are concentrating on meeting future customer needs. “

Emerald said that specialty resins segment has recovered to pre-recession levels, and is continuing to grow.
“We have seen strong demand for our performance epoxy resins and reactive liquid polymers,” said Charles Zarnitz, director of sales and marketing for Emerald’s CVC thermoset specialties business group.  “These materials are typically used in demanding applications such as industrial maintenance, primers in automotive and aerospace and concrete coatings. “

Celanese also found that there has been modest recovery in 2013.

“New construction and existing home sales were both up considerably and helped to fuel some growth in 2013,” said Brad Moncla, marketing manager, Celanese. “One challenge observed though is the disconnect between the growth in existing home sales and paint sales.  Over the past few decades, there has been a very close relationship between existing home sales and paint demand.  In 2013, existing home sales grew by about 10% over 2012.  Paint sales grew by only half of that figure.   In 2014 and beyond, it will be instructive to see if this was an aberration and if there are changing dynamics in what drives consumers to paint.”

Dow found that customers were working to enhance their formulations to meet consumer demand for high-performing, highly functional and sustainable paint.

“Our customers are working to enhance their formulations to meet consumer demand for high-performing, highly functional, more sustainable paint,” Insogna said. “Among these demands are resins that help formulators develop paint using fewer raw materials like titanium dioxide while increasing hiding and life cycle to help boost a paint’s sustainability.  Formulators are also looking to develop high performance paint that is easy to use, dries quickly, looks perfect and lasts long while looking fresh and new every day. New resin technology can enhance resistance to household stains and dirt pickup while blocking tannin stains and resisting corrosion along with providing high hiding properties. When it comes to functionality, consumers expect their paint to have staying power, but also want easy application, including formulations that combine primer and paint. They are also expecting paint with less odor.”

Hiel said that end-use customers continually focus on reducing film weights and numbers of layers in multiple coat systems.  “These higher performance expectations demand higher performance resins, especially in the areas of corrosion resistance,” he said.

Fuell said that Reichhold sees many demands from customers in the resin market.“Demands that customers are making on the resin suppliers include: higher performance, environmentally friendly and cost-effective products,” she said. “Environmental regulations and company sustainability goals are driving the trends that the market expects to see.”

Thomas Hall III, market segment manager, industrial maintenance, transportation and industrial coatings & plastics, dispersions & pigments division, North America, BASF Corporation said that the demands of customers continue to be aligned with the major trends in the market. “The major trends in the market continue to be:  increase the life of coatings systems and reduce the labor cost associated with the preparation and application of coating systems,” Hall said. “Also to focus on minimizing the impact on the environment by reducing VOC content and improving the performance of WB technologies.”

Sayed-Sweet explained that increased performance continues to be a demand. “Increased performance is always a customer demand however with the soft architectural and industrial market we are under price pressure from regional and global customers,” Sayed-Sweet said.

Customers continue to rely more heavily on their polymer supplier for technical support, higher performing products and personal attention.

“Specialty Polymers’ customers, and potential customers, are looking for products that give them an edge in the market,” Reiser said.  “To gain that edge, we are seeing an increased need for higher performing products, customized for their application. They also look for increased technical support throughout the evaluation process, to help maximize the product’s effectiveness in their specific application.

Lower cost and lower volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are constant requests from customers, but customers insist that these demands not have a negative effect on performance. 

“Performance is always the primary driver,” Smith said. “At Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, we work closely with our customers to understand their performance objectives so that our formulation solutions are balanced appropriately. This collaborative relationship means that we can develop resins, including products with optimized solid levels, in the context of the customer’s total formulation to address cost and performance characteristics of the customer’s end products. Of course, new performance requirements arise. For example, we have a new coatings resin developed to tackle the need for chemical resistance in high temperature applications.” 
“For specialty epoxy systems, customers seek improved elevated-temperature performance, flexibility, toughness, solvent-resistance, adhesion, longer recoat time, blush resistance and lower VOCs,”said Zarnitz. “Some customers are also seeking environmentally friendly options beyond just lower VOCs, such as BPA replacements and materials based on renewable resources. “

For Celanese, balancing performance and cost is a universal requirement. “Achieving that balance though depends on the specific product the customer is selling,” Moncla said. “For highly price sensitive applications, customers are asking for some specific improvements in performance while keeping cost increases minimal.  For more specialized applications where paint performance can provide higher margins to the customer or greater market share, the balance tips toward performance driving with cost being less critical.”

Dow manages to balance customer demands and the rising costs associated with manufacturing resins by striving to offer performance and cost benefits to customers. “Dow strives to offer performance and cost benefits to our customers with multifunctional products that enhance formulations, such as EVOQUE Pre-Composite Polymer Technology,” Insogna said. “In a typical paint formulation, titanium dioxide is not uniformly distributed, decreasing hiding efficiency. Instead of adding more TiO2 to compensate for low hiding efficiency, paint formulators can maintain hiding performance while using up to 20 percent less TiO2.”

Arkema focused on providing the resins that create the most customer performance value and consolidating choices when there are opportunities to do so. “In many cases, customers have found ways to formulate with fewer raw materials, thereby simplifying their product mix and inventory costs,” Hiel said.

Reichhold strives to provide products that meet customer demands, but it is challenging to provide high performance, environmentally friendly and cost-effective products all at the same time. “Reichhold partners with our suppliers to jointly find new and inventive ways to meet these demands while at the same time maintaining an affordable resin,” Huell said. “BECKOSOL AQ is our system of choice to meet all three of these demands.”

“One of Alberdingk Boleys company initiatives is constant evaluation and continuous improvement of our performance at all levels whether it is in manufacturing of dispersions, customer service or technology innovation,” Sayed-Sweet said. “Also, we are always looking for the best sourcing of raw materials globally.”
BASF keeps an open dialogue to ensure that customer’s needs are being met. “BASF spends a lot of time listening to our customers to understand the market demands for their respective business,” Hall said. “Through this dialogue, BASF is able to develop products that meet or exceed the expected performance requirements with an attractive value proposition.”

As customers’ demands increase, Specialty Polymers found that the closer they worked with customers the better they were able to support their product development process.

“To respond to our customer’s need for increasing technical support we’ve expanded our lab, added equipment, and increased both our technical and sales staff,” Reiser explained. “This enables Specialty Polymers to work closer than ever with customers, ensuring we clearly understand their application and performance requirements. We’ve seen an increase in customer requests for special products, packaging, labeling, and short lead times. To provide the flexibility and responsiveness needed to meet these customer demands, Specialty Polymers has made significant investments in our production plants and staffing.”

Celanese focuses on managing customer demands versus cost through proper contracting of key raw materials as well as backwards integration into main monomers. “These programs help insulate Celanese from some of the volatility present in many of the building block commodities, “ Moncla said.

A key to the success of Georgia-Pacific Chemicals is endeavoring to understand exactly what the customers need and supplying products in such a way that customers are paying for what they value. 

New Products
Georgia-Pacific Chemicals recently developed a coatings resin for industrial drum and pail applications that provides chemical resistance similar to the performance of Bisphenol A-containing resins. “In addition, we have active projects featuring high temperature resistant phenolic resins for primers,” Smith said. “These products are for nonflexible tubular applications such as tankers and piping.  Our approach to customization involves product development determined by the customer’s specific application. “
Arkema has developed SYNAQUA 4804 and SNAP 728.SYNAQUA 4804 is an alkyd emulsion that delivers outstanding hardness, fast dry time,high gloss potential, plus excellent gloss retention. This versatile APEO-free binder is a good choice for many applications, including: high gloss trim paints, wall and ceiling paints in sheens from flat to high gloss, primers for interior or exterior wood or metal substrates, direct-to-Metal coatings with anti-corrosive properties, transparent and semi-transparent stains.
SNAP 728 latex is ENVIA certified and employs a novel binder technology designed to be used in satin to high gloss finishes in both interior and exterior applications. SNAP 728 latex provides formulators with the following performance benefits: Superior block resistance at both room temperature and high temperature in no or low VOC formulations, excellent “enamel-like” film hardness compared to standard acrylic binders.

Two new resins developed by Reichhold include BECKOSOL AQ 400 and UROTUF F600-W-40. BECKOSOL AQ 400 is designed for traffic stripe coatings for non-highway applications such as parking lots.  Coatings made with this product exhibit superior appearance and durability over asphalt and concrete surfaces and are a biobased alternative to acrylic systems.

UROTUF F600-W-40 is a self crosslinking waterborne uralkyd designed for garage floor coatings.  Performance of these 100 g/L VOC coatings rival higher VOC systems in terms of dry time, hardness, chemical resistance, adhesion and hot tire pick-up resistance.

Dow Coatings new FORMASHIELD 12 100% Acrylic Binder was developed for premium interior paints in response to growing concerns about Indoor Air Quality and the health effects associated with exposure to formaldehyde. FORMASHIELD 12 Binder offers irreversible formaldehyde removal from ambient air in homes and commercial buildings. Other features and benefits include solvent-free formulating capability, good washability, excellent adhesion, ultra-low VOC capable and low odor/APEO-free.
Dow also developed MAINCOTE IC Acrylic Resins which offer a cool solution to unintended heat loss and corrosion under insulation in industrial infrastructure. Designed for use with low thermal conductivity fillers such as hollow glass microspheres or aerogel, these esins create a new category of liquid insulation coating that offers low thermal conductivity in an easy spray application. 

Alberdingk Boley has developed U 9900, a solvent free, self-crosslinking polyester based polyurethane dispersion that offers high quality performance for wood applications. It has high surface hardness and very good chemical resistance, also for pigmented formulations. It is also recommended for two pack wood floor coatings with excellent performance that meets MFMA specifications. They also developed LUX 220, a versatile solvent-free, UV curable polyurethane dispersion recommended for high quality wood and PVC coatings, clears and pigmented. It has outstanding chemical and scratch resistance and a very high film hardness prior to UV cure. Its excellent cure response produces films with high crosslinking dens.

Celanese introduced Avicor 385 and EcoVAE 450.  Avicor 385 is a new vinyl acrylic that is APE-free and is designed to give superior performance in interior and exterior paints.  The combination of high molecular weight, excellent film formation, and water resistance within the product yields excellent stain and scrub resistance while exhibiting great toughness and durability.  The product is also designed to provide broad latitude in formulation paint across a range of sheen from flat to semi-gloss. 
EcoVAE 450, an APE-free vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) emulsion designed for low odor primer applications.  This product has excellent wet/dry adhesion to a variety of substrates including alkyds, ceramics and aluminum. 

Emerald’s CVC Thermoset Specialties business group launched new Hypro VTBNX methacrylate terminated reactive liquid polymers, in addition to the new line of hydroxyl terminated butadiene (HTB) reactive liquid polymers (RLP) previously launched.   According to Jeffrey Tyrrell, reactive liquid polymers product manager for Emerald’s CVC group, this recent breakthrough in technology enables Hypro VTBNX RLPs to be used in an expanded range of applications in coatings, adhesives, sealants and composites where color is important.  Hypro VTBNX RLPs also improve strength and impact resistance and improves mechanical performance and low temperature flexibility.  In addition, the recently launched HTB polyols are ideal for waterproof coatings and membranes, window sealants, encapsulants and adhesives. 

Specialty Polymers introduced RayPlus 1097 and RayPlus 1098, unique core shell polymers that exhibited excellent performance for a number of different applications by providing excellent chemical resistance, excellent mar and scratch resistance and clarity for clear coats.

Joncryl PRO 1524 is BASF’s latest addition for Direct to Metal and topcoat applications for low VOC (< 100 g/l) 1K WB dispersions.  Joncryl PRO 1524 delivers a high gloss finish with excellent adhesion, chemical and corrosion resistance designed for exterior applications. Sovermol 750 is now available from BASF’s NA manufacturing facility with an improved lower APHA color. At 100% solids, Sovermol 750 can help to achieve lower solvent demand for 2K urethane clear and pigmented coatings.

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