High Performance & Special Effect Pigments

By Christine Esposito | August 9, 2005

Special coatings demand special pigments.

Faux granite vases. A car that looks green then blue then red. A house paint that won't fade just a few years down the road. If consumers demand it, paint companies need to deliver.

Thanks to pigment suppliers, a wide range of high-performance and special effect pigments are now available that enable coatings companies to formulate top-of-the-line, specialty coatings with greater ease and confidence.

Defining High Performance
As coatings technology grows more sophisticated and some raw materials are pushed to commodity levels, how does one define a high performance pigment (HPP) in today's marketplace?

"There is no consensus today as to what a high-performance pigment is," said Andrew Zamoyski, technical and quality manager, pigments, Clariant. "Twenty years ago, a pigment that performed as well as a quinacridone or phthalocyanine was considered a high performance pigment. Today, most phthalocyanines are considered commodities and quinacridones are rapidly following phthalocyanines into the commodities category. So, excellent properties alone no longer define high performance pigments."

Smart coating formulators expect HPPs to offer unique or superior properties. Many times, these products are defined by their exclusivity and higher price tag. According to some industry experts, organic high performance pigments account for approximately 10% of the world's pigment production by volume, but they account for one-quarter of its sales.

With their added cost, when does one make the call and select a high performance pigment? "Formulators can use HPPs in their most demanding applications and be assured that they will provide stable color. The pigment will not be the 'weakest link' in their coating system," said Jim White, technical support manager, The Shepherd Color Company.

Adding Value
Pigment suppliers contend high-performance pigments add value to finished coatings.

"The use of high-performance pigments adds value for coating manufacturers since it allows them to offer higher quality coatings to their customers," said Rudy Verhaegen, Coating Effects segment, coatings with Ciba Specialty Chemicals. "Throughout the coatings industry-and all other industries for that matter-there is a trend toward higher quality. In many cases high-performance pigments give paint manufacturers the required competitive edge in their market...people don't want to have to repaint their houses after a couple of years because the color has faded, and airlines don't want their planes grounded because they have to be repainted."

Special Finishes for Everyday Items
The DIY market offers opportunities for a number of special effect paints. Plasti-Kote has added stone blue and hunter green to its Fleckstone range (left). Above, the Krylon brand includes Glowz
glow-in-the-dark spray paint (left) and Looking Glass,
a coating that gives ordinary objects a mirror like finish (right).

"Making something perform better always adds value," said Mr. White. "Coatings manufacturers choosing HPPs over lesser alternatives will see the extra value as lower overall costs, higher overall quality, or a combination of the two in their coatings systems. When the higher quality and/or lower costs are expressed to coatings consumers, coatings with HPPs will naturally seem more attractive."

Mr. White said the use of HPPs with higher visual opacity can reduce the need for pigments in the coating, and/or allow applicators to use thinner films to yield the same appearance. "HPPs that readily disperse and provide excellent color stability upon application can save manufacturers significant time and effort by reducing the number of batches that require correction," he added.

Automotive coatings demand high-performance pigments.

"High performance pigments must add value to coatings. Otherwise, the coatings formulator would use the less expensive and more widely available commodity pigment grades," said Mr. Zamoyski of Clariant. "For example, 70-series pigments, with strictly controlled particle-size distribution, remain the preferred way to achieve high-hiding yellow, orange and red heavy-metal-free coatings. 70-series pigments therefore continue to qualify as specialties."

"Coating manufacturers are selling performance to their customers. High performance pigments together with upgraded vehicle systems assure the highest level of quality and performance for the customer," said Jonathan Evans, manager, communications at BASF Corp. "High performance pigments aesthetically enhance coating systems over the life span of the product. Today's coating systems are designed to last longer than ever before, and the use of high performance pigments will ensure that the coating remains aesthetically pleasing over the life span of the product."

There is also a need for special effect colors as more companies look to give their consumer products "curb appeal" in a crowded marketplace.

"There is an emerging trend for special color effects," said Jerry Droll, marketing manager at Flex Products, maker of Chroma Flair pigments. "A color or product designer's main task is to create a product that is distinguished from the competition. Special color effects help them do their jobs."

Mr. Verhaegen of Ciba also commented on the trend to create unique finishes. "Demand is growing for special effect pigments, especially in the automotive, industrial, furniture and packaging sectors. This trend is driven by consumers' desire for different and fancy effects, for individuality and novelty."

According to Mr. Droll, new materials, such as light interference pigments, allow color designers to explore new color appearances and create looks that are bold, subtle, wild or sophisticated. "Designers explore new color space, colors that shift and create an extra dimension to consumer products. Products are seen as more dynamic when the color changes because of body contour or movement."

Intertech's High-Performance Pigments Conference is Jan. 23-25

Intertech has planned its next High Performance Pigments Conference for Jan. 23-25, 2002 at the Delray Beach Marriott in Delray Beach, FL. The conference will be chaired by Hugh Smith, senior staff consultant at Sun Chemical. Intertech currently is seeking speakers for the conference.

For more information, or to submit a topic for consideration, contact Intertech, (207) 781-9800; Fax: (207) 781-2150;
E-mail: info@intertechusa.com.

Making Choices

Looking for a new pigment that can add punch to your next specialty or high-performance paint? Several suppliers are offering products that might fit the bill.

The Shepherd Color Company has introduced the Arctic line of heat reflective complex inorganic color pigments (CICPs) that can be used to minimize heat buildup in exterior durable coatings. "These are high performance in that they couple the durability and stability generally expected of CICPs with a maximum of reflectivity in the infrared region," Mr. White said. The newest addition to Clariant's pigment lineup are Hostaperm Yellow H5G (Pigment Yellow 213), which offers a new level of fastness properties for a green-shade yellow, and Hostaperm Blue R5R, the first of a new series of benzimidazolone dioxazine pigments. Benzimidazolone dioxazine pigments combine the high strength of carbazole violet with the weatherfastness properties of indanthrone blue, with shades between those two well-known pigments, according to Clariant.

Silberline offers holographic Geometric pigments, a series of special effect pigments that can be used as an optical decorative additive in automotive paints and coatings. The holographic flakes are available in a variety of shapes and colors to meet the individual needs of the coatings designer, according to the company.

Heubach/Heucotech has Heucodor Blue 500, a special grade of cobalt blue with a high degree of transparency and advantageous weathering properties at low pigmentation levels.

Engelhard Corp. offers new Lumina and Exterior Lumina mica-based effect pigments that feature increased chromaticity at the reflection angle as well as high color purity and clarity than traditional interference colors. Engelhard contends Lumina colors, which now include Lumina turquoise, create cleaner shades, more saturated colors and stronger flip-flop effects, simulating a three-coat inorganic.

BASF Corp.'s Paliocrom Copper L 3011 special effect pigment is a flaked iron oxide pigment with improved dispersibility that offers a greater distinctness of image and little tendency to settle out. Paliotan Yellow L1145 is defined as a high performance pigment that is a combination of high-grade organic and inorganic pigments developed to improve the technical profiles of the individual pigments through synergy effects, according to the company. BASF's Variocrom Magic Purple L 5520 exhibits attractive, angle-dependent color plays, the range of which can be extended indefinitely through a combination with traditional chromatic pigments. It features purple to orange color travel.

EM Industries' Bi-Flair pigment dispersions are suspensions of finely crystalline bismuth oxychloride pigments in a number of coating and polymer resin bases. EM also offers a selection of stylings that are achieved by combining its own Iriodin/Afflair effect pigments and Pantone colors.

Ciba Specialty Chemicals offers a number of pigments based on diketo-pyrrolo-pyrrole (DPP) chemistry, ranging from orange, scarlet and mid-shade to blue-shade red. Ciba has more products in the pipeline. Soon to debut is a new addition to the IRGAZIN X series, IRGAZIN Red A2BX.

All Plastics has developed Flex-Spex, a line of products designed to impart a granite, stone or textured appearance in a paint or coating. According to Chris Suyrbrook, product manager, the line was born from the company's expertise in thermoplastics. The Flex-Spex line of pigmented, ground polymer film products is classified into six grades ranging from 100-1500 microns. Available in black, blue, brown, green, purple, red and white, All-Plastics was readying the launch of four new earth tone colors, including terra-cotta and sandstone.

A High Performance Pigment from an Ancient Civilization

The Alchemist and ChemWeb magazine (chemweb.com) are reporting that scientists have made headway in their investigation into the structure of Maya Blue, a pigment used by the Mayans some 2,000 years ago.
According to the report, Maya Blue "is resistant to natural biodegradation, extremes of pH and attack by chemical solvents. Despite the centuries and the harsh environmental conditions found in the Central American rain forest, ceramics and other artifacts decorated with the paint found today have hardly faded. Only inorganic substances show similar properties and it is the fact that Maya Blue is both inorganic and organic in nature that makes it so interesting."

The Bottom Line
When it comes to incorporating high performance or special effect pigments into coatings, the formulator must weigh two major factors in coatings development: cost and performance.

"The coatings maker must be convinced that using a high performance pigment is the only way to achieve the effects his customer desires," said Mr. Zamoyski. "Otherwise, the cost of the high performance pigment probably makes its use prohibitive."

If your company plans to sell a coating as a true performance product, pigment selection is critical, according to industry experts. "A better performing pigment will translate into a better performing coating," said Mr. White.

High Performance and Special Effect Pigment Resources
Here's how to contact the companies mentioned in this article.

All-Plastics, Inc.
Waterford, MI
(888) MICA-TEK
Fax: (248) 674-4277
E-mail: mica-tek@e-mail.mns.com
Web: www.mica-tek.com

BASF Corp.
Mt. Olive, NJ
(800) 362-BASF
Fax: 973-426-3562
E-mail: heilj@basf.com
Web: www.basf.com

Ciba Specialty Chemicals
Basel, Switzerland
(41) 61 636 22 18
Fax: (41) 61 636 50 09
E-mail: carole.smargon@cibasc.com
(914) 785-2304
Fax: (914) 785-4253
E-mail: alison.metzger@cibasc.com

Clariant Pigments & Additives Division Pigments Business Unit
Coventry, RI
(401) 823-2230
Fax: (401) 823-2700
E-mail: Andrew.Zamoyski@clariant.com

EM Industries, Inc.
Hawthorne, NY
(914) 592-4660
Fax: (914) 785-5804
E-mail: Adelio@emindustries.com
Web: www.empigments.com

Engelhard Corporation
Iselin, NJ
(732) 205-5000
Fax: (732) 321-0250
E-mail: info@engelhard.com
Web: www.engelhard.com

Flex Products
Santa Rosa, CA
(707) 525-7337
Fax: (707) 525-7537
E-mail: Jerry_Droll@flexprod.com
Web: www.colorshift.com

Fairless Hills, PA
(215) 736-0712
Fax: (215) 736-2249
E-mail: sales@heubachcolor.com
Web: www.heubach.com

Silberline Manufacturing
Tamaqua, PA
(570) 668-6050 � Fax: (570) 668-0197
E-mail: sales@silberline.com
Web: www.silberline.com

The Shepherd Color Company
Cincinnati, OH
(513) 874-0714 � Fax (513) 874-5061
E-mail: salesusa@shepherdcolor.com
Web: www.shepherdcolor.com

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