Pigment suppliers are not ones to rest on their laurels. Even though there are pigments out there for just about every coatings application, suppliers continue to invest lots of time and money into developing new products to meet the changing demands of the paint and coatings industry.
Improving the performance characteristics of pigments is one area that suppliers are focusing on. "Customers are constantly looking for better properties in pigments: improved durability, heat stability, light fastness and weatherfastness without increasing prices," said Frank Kochendoerfer, Clariant's marketing manager for coatings. "We are not only improving our existing products, but we are also trying to develop chemically new pigments."
New Facilities, Joint Ventures In order to meet the increasing demand for pigments in the paint and coatings industry, suppliers are finding it necessary to expand existing facilities and build new plants.
Ciba is in the midst of expanding capacity for quinacridone pigments at its Newport, DE production facility. Scheduled to go on-line in mid-2000, the $80 million project will expand the facility's capacity to 1,600 metric tons, according to Jean-Luc Schwitzguebel, Ciba's global president, colors. Approximately two-thirds of the pigments produced at this facility will be suitable for coatings, according to the company.
In October, Clariant added a sixth laboratory for its azo pigments technology section of the pigments and additives division. Clariant has also announced plans to expand capacity at its plant in Coventry, RI. Clariant will increase the output capabilities for high performance pigments, and specialty azo pigments.
Heubach's new plant for zinc ferrite pigments in Langelshelm, Germany, went on line last December. Zinc ferrite pigments are used for the high temperature coloration of coil coatings, powder coatings and plastics.
DayGlo Color Corp., Cleveland, OH, is expanding its California manufacturing facility to produce cut foil glitter and special effect pigments. "The introduction of state-of-the-art milling equipment in southern California gives DayGlo a strong regional presence in conventional pigment dispersions for the coatings industry in addition to our well known activity with fluorescent colors," said Peter H. Olley, vice president of sales and marketing.
Mr. Olley said DayGlo has also entered into an agreement with Huntsman Corporation to offer pigment dispersions in Huntsman Jeffamine polyetheramine. "These dispersions meet the need for high performance color in the fast growing field of polyurea coatings and elastomers," Mr. Olley added.
Joint ventures have also been beneficial to Wayne Pigment, Milwaukee, WI. Jim Boldt, vice president, said Wayne Pigment entered into a number of technical alliances with trade organizations, academic institutions, other suppliers and customers in 1999. "Technical alliances seem to be a hot topic right now for us," said Mr. Boldt. "We have put a lot of money into research to get to the next level of technology. By forming alliances we can get other people's insights and collectively we can get on the right track together. New technologies that we can develop together are going to offer distinct advantages to the coatings industry."
New Introductions Coatings manufacturers are trying to develop durable, bright coatings that customers can depend on. To do so, manufacturers turn to pigment suppliers in search of pigments with the best performance characteristics available. "We are addressing the needs of the marketplace with new products that offer improved durability and improved brilliance," said Dr. Schwitzguebel of Ciba. "We have launched a number of new products in 2000 that are excellent in terms of value in use, performance versus price." New from Ciba is the Irgazin 2000 series, ideal for use in decorative, industrial and powder coatings. For the architectural coatings market, Ciba developed Unisperse S, a new range of aqueous pigment dispersions that offer high light and weather stability.
Among Clariant's recent introductions is Hostaperm Yellow H5G, a new high grade yellow suitable for high performance coatings such as automotive, industrial, powder and decorative because of its outstanding weatherfastness, excellent rheology, opacity and gloss, according to the company. Clariant's 15-1104 Hostaperm Blue AFR is a phthalocyanine blue pigment that exhibits outstanding fastness properties and is recommended for high-end liquid coatings. Another new product from Clariant is 15-1048 PV Fast Blue BG, a clean greenish blue shade pigment that exhibits outstanding fastness properties for exterior durability applications, according to Clariant.
Future releases from Wayne Pigment will include a new product for the mirror back industry, as well as a new product for electrodeposition coatings. "The thrust of Wayne Pigment is to come up with effective products to replace heavy metals in anti-corrosion," said Mr. Boldt. "As we get into wood and architectural coatings, we are looking at stain-block products."
DayGlo's latest introduction is AeroGlo hyperdispersed colorants. "These are super-high strength full fluorescent pourable colorants designed primarily for the aerosol paint market," said Mr. Olley. "They are designed for the lowest possible cost but with the added benefit of improved resistance to acetone." AeroGlo's primary particles are less than one micron in diameter and spherical in form, giving a very high color strength, according to the company. Additional uses will include fluorescent brushing and spray paints for decorative effects and the industrial safety market.
LaPorte Pigments made four introductions last year. Mapico 1075LA is a yellow iron oxide pigment that delivers lower viscosity than LaPorte's Mapico 1075A. High Temp Black 806 is a heat-stable black iron oxide suitable for high temperature applications. High Purity Red 212P and 226P are additions to LaPorte's series of high purity iron oxides pigments.
Bayer Corporation has expanded its line of Quindo quinacridone pigments developed for both high-solid solventborne systems and waterborne systems. New products include Quindo Violet RV-6956, Quindo Magenta RV-6883 and Quindo Magenta RV-6858.
Market Trends Pricing is still the name of the game in the pigments industry. "Pricing will always be a big issue in the pigments industry," said Mr. Boldt of Wayne Pigment. "Resins will continue to be the most expensive part, but pigments will always have a major impact."
With so many players vying for customers, suppliers are doing their best to keep costs low while improving performance characteristics. But often this is not possible. A few of the suppliers that Coatings World spoke with announced price increases in 1999, in part due to rising costs associated with manufacturing.
"LaPorte Pigments announced a price increase last year, which can be attributed to rising costs such as raw material, environmental and labor," said Cas Kleczko, vice president, coatings and specialties. "Labor costs continue to increase, even though at a modest rate, and need to be absorbed."
"The trend within the pigment industry has been an increase in prices," said Dr. Schwitzguebel of Ciba. "Ciba announced a few increases last year. I expect this trend of price increases to continue. The prices of raw materials have been rising due to oil prices going up, which impacts pigments."
Dr. Kochendoerfer of Clariant said he predicts that pricing will begin to stabilize in 2000. "Prices for pigments have declined substantially," said Dr. Kochendoerfer. "The decline started about two years ago for organic pigments. What we see now is that prices are continuing to decline, but at a much slower pace. The decline has started to bottom out though, and prices are becoming more stable."
The prices of inorganic pigments have not fluctuated as much as organic pigments have. "Pricing has seemed stagnant for inorganic pigments," said Mr. Boldt. "Reasons include the consolidation that has taken place–the big have gotten bigger, giving them more buying power; and the strong U.S. dollar has allowed foreign pigment manufacturers to continue to do business in the U.S. The foreign companies are able to hold the line on pricing."
Specialized pigments markets must deal with rising costs, too. "Pricing in the fluorescent color market is stable but signs are on the horizon of cost pressures on the industry that must inevitably be passed along," said Mr. Olley of DayGlo.
In addition to price wars, players in the North American pigments market must compete with pigment suppliers based in the Far East who are tempting customers with lower prices. "The growing market has attracted overseas pigment manufacturers into the North American pigments market," said Mr. Kleczko of LaPorte.
"We are seeing a lot of pigments being imported from the Far East into the U.S.," added Dr. Kochendoerfer. "But there are problems with batch-to-batch variations, and some of the pigments coming from the Far East have EPA levels that are way over the limit."
Growing Markets Pigment suppliers must keep tabs on the coatings industry, and develop products for markets that are seeing the most success. "The powder coatings market has also seen the demand for pigments rise," said Dr. Kochen-doerfer. "In automotive, color trends are very important and have a significant impact on pigment suppliers."
The industrial coatings market is another area that pigment suppliers are focusing on. "There is an increase in industrial coatings applications such as high-temperature coatings and powder coatings," added Dr. Schwitzguebel.
Niche markets within the coatings industry are also seeing demand rise, which has a direct impact on the pigments industry. "We see the farm implement business having a large impact on the pigments business," said Dr. Kochendoerfer. "If paint companies in this market see sales drop, then the raw materials demand will fall as well.
"In the traffic paint market, we are seeing a strong trend to hot melts, combined with a switch to organic pigments-organic yellow," continued Dr. Kochendoerfer. "Organic pigment manufacturers will definitely benefit if everything goes lead-free."
"We are definitely looking to increase our presence in world markets," said Mr. Boldt of Wayne Pigment. "We can do some work in South America. There is some room for growth in Europe, but there is also a lot of competition in Europe. A lot of the growth potential is being fueled by environmental aspects and a concern about heavy metal systems. We are starting to see more water-based systems being used in Europe, which will benefit us because we have a lot of products for water-based applications. We have to figure out where we want to go next–maybe look into areas we haven't gone into yet."
Looking Ahead Like the coatings market, the pigments industry has seen its share of consolidation over the past few years, and suppliers predict 2000 to be another active year. "I think that the mergers and acquisitions are going to slow down a little, but the consolidation trend will continue," said Mr. Boldt. "There are a million good reasons to buy things up. A lot of the consolidations have to do with the electronic age and the fact that information is so readily available now."
Searching For New Products? Looking for a new pigment for a project you are working on? Pigment suppliers have introduced a number of new products over the past 12 months to meet manufacturers' demands. A list of the latest introductions can be found in the print version of Coatings World.