As 2014 progresses, the metallic pigments market has been growing, with the emerging demand in Asia driving growth for pigment suppliers. The companies Coatings World spoke to reported expanding product lines and a positive attitude overall for 2014. By far the largest consumer of metallic pigments is China, which leads the world in automotive manufacturing.
“ECKART sees a positive development of its market for effect pigments in the coatings market,” said Jörg Krames, global business line manager coatings and plastics, ECKART. “Besides a general strong demand the growth is still driven by the emerging markets in Asia, with China being the engine. With the accelerating economy we are expecting this situation to continue and assume further growth but at a moderate scale in 2014.”
Metallic pigments continue to be a growth area for Sun Chemical in the first part of 2014.
“We will continue to expand our Benda-Lutz brand of premium metallic effects for both liquid and powder coatings,” Aaron Hollman, global product manager, Effect Pigments, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments. ”As a leading global pigment manufacturer, we are optimistic that Sun Chemical Performance Pigments will overcome global economic challenges and see continued growth for the balance of 2014 and beyond.”
Trends in the market remain focused on customer’s needs and key among these needs are products that comply with environmental regulations, while delivering exceptional performance characteristics.
“The development of our technologies is aligned to our customers’ needs as well as to REACH standards,” Korg said. “That is to say, for example, that the increasing demand for environmentally-friendly coatings fuels the development of those pigments. Therefore pigments for powder coatings as well as stabilized and encapsulated pigments for water-based coatings systems enjoy particular attention. Also, other developments within our portfolio are initiated by stricter regulations, for example APEO- and nickel-free products. In this respect it is of particular interest how the emerging economies like in Asia are going to adapt these regulations”
Metallic pigments offer users a high-end, eye catching look for their products. Metallic pigments must offer both high performance and environmental compliance. In order to remain competitive metallic pigment manufacturers must stay ahead on these trends and focus R&D on translating these demands into a reality.
Typically new pigment technologies are being driven by the needs of the marketplace. Sun Chemical reports that is customers are very interested in developing metallic finishes using more environmentally friendly aqueous systems. Sun Chemical has a wide range of VOC-free aluminum dispersions and encapsulated aluminum effects that provide an unlimited array of metallic finishes for waterborne.
“We will continue to focus our research and development efforts on expanding our product offerings and technologies geared towards sustainability,” Hollman said. “Another key trend and challenge is the sustained high costs of raw materials. Sun Chemical anticipates that raw material prices will remain at their current high levels. However, we are certainly aware of the high degree of volatility in the global economy. Therefore, we will continue to monitor the key raw material indexes and focus our manufacturing team on process and raw material productivity. In addition, we continue to see increases in regulatory compliance costs.”
Raw Material Costs and the Market
The cost of raw materials and energy costs are impacting the market, and companies are adjusting to those costs accordingly.
“Here, we have to see the full picture - that means raw material costs but also energy costs as well as personnel costs,” Krog explained. “The reflection on pure raw materials is only one side of the medal. We successfully compensate increasing total costs by efficiency gains in order to avoid price increases for the majority of our product portfolio.”
Emerging Areas of Applications
ECKART has seen the total field of automotive with automotive parts, refinish, and general industrial, exterior/interior as areas with the strongest demand. The attention also is on broadening functionalities, paint system compatibility and weather stability.
Industrial and automotive coating applications show the strongest demand for metallic pigments.
“The North American automotive market is benefiting from strong vehicle sales, an increase in exports and continued popularity of silver and gray metallics colors,” Hollman said. “Emerging areas are architectural paint, building materials, electronic materials and securities.”
During the last year ECKART launched many new products. They broadened the portfolio in each of their product groups.
ECKART´s chromium oxide based METALURE Liquid Black is the product for midnight black shades in combination with fascinating reflective effect. The pigment is the world´s most unique PVD-product and impresses by its particular dark metallic appearance. Furthermore, METALURE Liquid Black not only convinces by its optics. The extremely high chemical resistance withstands any possible stresses. Moreover, METALURE Liquid Black is chemically inert and free of any chrome VI compounds, thus, it is toxically safe.
With STAPA UCP ECKART launched a new aluminum pigment for highest stability and brilliance in solvent- and water-based coatings. Additionally to its Ultra Chemical Performance the product optically shows a pronounced dark flop. It´s even, untextured surface and its extreme fineness guarantee a fascinating brilliance and light reflection.
STAPA UCP 150 passes all chemical tests – even the most challenging ones in the market like the chemical stability tests for coated interior plastic parts in the automotive sector.
STAPA HFG offers new environmentally-friendly solutions for toys, packaging, can coating or the coating of cookware as it is the first aluminum pigment worldwide which is suitable for water-based coatings with direct food contact. (Hydro Food Grade)
The aluminum pigments are specially coated and stabilized and additionally have a good chemical resistance. STAPA HFG is PAH-free and compliant with FDA and various European standards regarding food contact. It provides expressive optics - from a soft, greyish shade to an impressive sparkle or a brilliant silver effect.
Sun Chemical has recently released Benda-Lutz METALLIC 6822/70. A recent addition to the Benda-Lutz METALLIC Series, it is a medium coarse, non-leafing aluminum paste that provides a delicate balance of sparkle, brilliance and opacity for a wide variety of coatings applications. They also released Benda-Lutz METALLIC HP 6814/78, a new addition to the Benda-Lutz METALLIC Series. This sparkling, non-leafing aluminum provides exceptional acid resistance for industrial coatings with demanding chemical resistance requirements.
“We are very excited about some recent developments associated with our Benda-Lutz MAXAL EC product line,” Hollman explained. “In addition to premium metallic brilliance and sparkle, this range has become synonymous with the highest level of chemical resistance for single coat, architectural powder coatings. In the near future, this line will expand to finer particle sizes allowing smoother finishes combined with the industry leading durability of MAXAL EC.”