Many powder coating manufacturers are starting to branch out into plastic and wood, as well as other areas once exclusively the domain of liquid coatings.
According to Thomas Frauman, global marketing director, Morton Powder Coatings, a business unit of Rohm and Haas, the powder coatings industry is a $3.5 billion business worldwide. "However, we stand in the shadow of the industrial coatings industry with roughly 10% share of total industrial coatings," Mr. Frauman added.
But powder coating suppliers are out to change that. Trends in the market such as thin-film powders (one mil or thinner), lower temperature cure powders, UV-cured powders and powders that are resistant to high heat clear coats are key technologies driving growth, said Jeff Palmer, communications director, Powder Coating Institute (PCI). "All of these trends would work to capture more of the liquid finishing market or other finishing techniques," said Mr. Palmer. "Some of the industries that would have great potential would be automotive and medium density fiberboard (MDF). In the near future we can see that go beyond MDF to other woods such as beech and walnut."
Other areas of growth mentioned were U.S. architectural aluminum extrusion coating. "There is a major effort in our industry to convert this area to powder coatings," said Mr. Frauman. "Powder coatings are commonly used for architectural aluminum profiles in Europe."
Making the Switch
Across the board, industry players note there is a lot of room for growth in the powder coatings market. Because it is more environmentally-friendly than solvent-based coatings, more customers will likely turn to powder, as more restrictive VOC and HAPs regulations are enacted.
"We are still seeing the continued quest (by companies) to reduce VOCs," said Matt Albin, marketing manager, H.B. Fuller. "Some customers in the past who have not used powder coatings, have reevaluated and are switching from liquid to powder."
This increased interest in powder is a result of emerging technologies that improve powder's performance. "Powders have advanced so much that customers see it as a viable replacement for some chromes," said Mr. Albin.
According to Mr. Albin, the future lies in "things like wood and metallics replacing chrome plating and anodizing and other liquid applications. We are seeing powder technology catch up to liquid, opening up new opportunities for high performance metallics."
According to Dick Higgins, manager human resources and communications, Akzo Nobel Powder Coatings, "The future of powder coatings lies in increasing its substitution of traditional paints in non-metallic substrates like wood and wood composites."
Powder coating manufacturers are not just expanding in terms of usage–companies are also branching out globally into new markets. As with most areas of the coatings market, Asia is rapidly growing and shows room for future growth.
|Above from left to right: Akzo Nobel's Interpon Woodcote is used to coat a desk and cabinet door. The metal door frame (right) is coated with Interpon AC.|
"Many consumer items are being manufactured in Asia," said Mr. Frauman. "As a result, these markets are growing very rapidly and maturing in terms of what they expect in the way of coating performance and appearance properties. You will see rapid growth in China and other developing countries and a continued shift toward applicators demanding U.S.- and European-type quality and performance."
Mr. Frauman added that Rohm and Haas will continue investing to expand its position in Asia-Pacific, leveraging existing sales and service capabilities in Taiwan and China.
"This coming year we will augment these capabilities with additional investments for formulating and producing coatings in China."
Akzo Nobel has new factories in Vietnam and Turkey. The factories added new capacity to its Beijing, China factory for making FBE (fusion bonded epoxy) powders and has moved its central China factory to a new location in Suzhou.
Akzo Nobel has plans to "to continue global expansion of our Interpon Powder Coatings powder business," according to Mr. Higgins. "We have over 20 factories making Interpon and Resicoat powders which are marketed now in over 100 countries around the world. We will invest in continuing to serve our customer needs wherever in the world they operate."
Quality and Price
Companies are always looking for ways to reduce costs, but many companies are not willing to sacrifice quality for a cheaper product. One of the key features of today's powder coatings is that they offer quality coatings with cost effective options. "We think powder coatings need to make advances to prevent the industry from becoming commododized," said Mr. Albin.
"Everyone is concerned with lowering cost," said Mr. Frauman. "The problem is many people in the industry take the approach of cheapening their formulation. We take the approach of marrying good chemistry with state-of-the-art manufacturing to produce products that cover more square-feet per pound, have a higher yield and lower waste. Customers save money and you eliminate a lot of waste. Rarely does low cost material deliver the optimum results."
Particle management is a new technology that offers savings to customers. Particle management gives the coating a tight particle distribution, resulting in more square-feet coated and more uniform film thickness. According to Mr. Higgins of Akzo Nobel, it provides "further cost-reductions in finishing through new technologies like particle management–which involve one or more of thinner films, advanced fluidity, advanced cavity and other systems."
This new technology allows companies to coat items such as furniture with less material. "Today most customers are coating three-dimensional parts and particle management gives them the ability to coat these using less product," said Mr. Frauman. "We are packaging this product in a 30 lb. container, which is reflective that the product is higher yield."
Metallics is another emerging area for growth.
"If you look around you, the finishes that are hot are bright silvers and colors with metallic pigments," said Mr. Frauman. "Customers want a broad array of metallic finishes; however, in the past putting metal flakes in powder coatings has been somewhat problematic."
Morton's Britebond series attaches decorative metallic pigments to powder particles giving customers good brightness and consistency, with superior performance and handling characteristics, according to the company. Britebond generates a finish that is insensitive to variations in application parameters, equipment type or substrate configuration. The powder coater can eliminate metallic quality problems such as shadowing, non-uniformity in faraday cage areas and color drift during a production run or at shift change. Britebond products, which also eliminate sparking during application, maintain brilliance and consistency of appearance even when recycled and reused. Clean-up time during color changes can be reduced by up to 50%, according to the firm.
New Products and New Developments
Powder coating manufactures have been busy developing new technologies that will offer added benefits to their customers. One of Morton's latest developments is HY2 technology, the second generation of its high yield technology that was introduced in late 1996. One of the key features of this product is that it delivers low total net waste. "We marry technology and application expertise together so our customers use less material," said Mr. Frauman. "HY2 goes further and has better application efficiency resulting in less waste for our customers. The HY2 product line employs proprietary chemistry that produces less friable powder particles. It has tight particle distribution (which some may call particle management). All of this results in more square feet coated per pound and more uniform coverage."
Morton Powder Coatings has also developed low temperature cure coatings. Its Lamineer, Ultra-V and Low-E product lines continue to meet the needs of customers finishing engineered wood, assembled motors and small appliances, with strong growth prospects for the foreseeable future, according to Mr. Frauman.
Spark-Lite conductive dissipative powder coatings from Morton Powder Coatings provide an effective, environmentally sound solution to the problem of static electricity dissipation. Surface resistivity values between 105 and 109 make Spark-Lite powder coatings well-suited for electrostatic discharge (ESD) protected areas, where it is important to eliminate hazards to persons or equipment pose by static buildup and discharge, according to the company.
|2001 Global Thermosetting
Powder Coatings Market
|By the year 2003, the global powder coatings market is expected to reach 2.2 billion pounds, with a value of $3.2 billion.
Source: Irfab Chemical Consultants
Spark-Lite powder coatings are available in a wide range of colors, including light or dark shades, and offer outstanding chemical and mechanical properties. The environmentally-friendly powders are available in two series. The M-series offers a full color range and an attractive speckled surface appearance; the F-series produces a hard-to-detect speckled effect in a full range of colors.
Morton's Low-E powders are formulated to melt, flow and cross-link at 300ŢF or less. These low-temperature chemistries deliver the benefits of lower oven temperature settings, reduced energy consumption and lower operating costs for finishing operations, according to the company.
The technology exhibits excellent overbake stability, resulting in increased line speeds and improved throughput. In addition, a faster cure speed shortens bake time and reduces wear and tear on oven equipment. Available in weatherable and non-weatherable chemistries, various surface finishes and custom colors, Hybrid and TGIC products are available as well as limited colors and gloss ranges.
Becker Powder Coatings has developed a number of products for MDF, a key growth area for powder.
"We have continued development of coatings for non-metallic surfaces, especially MDF (medium density fiberboard)," said Paul Johnson, president, Becker Powder Coatings, U.S. "Our work with particle size management has allowed customers to apply powders easier in faraday cage areas while lowering overall film thickness. These ultra-classified powders have much higher transfer efficiencies and lead to huge saving on spray to waste lines."
The company has also introduced a simulated wood finish that was developed at Becker Powder Coatings in the UK. This patented system gives the look and feel of wood to metal surfaces. It is currently being used on aluminum extrusion, store fixtures and hardware.
H.B. Fuller's Designkote technology offers both thermoset and UV powders for MDF substrates. The company is focusing its efforts on three areas-metallics, powder coatings for wood substrates and powder technology for heavy mass parts such as agricultural and commercial equipment.
"In the metallics area we have developed Reflectra–a highly reflective, near-chrome product that can be used for automotive after market applications and office furniture," said Mr. Albin. H.B. Fuller will soon offer colored versions for the building hardware market, according to Mr. Albin.
"We are focusing a lot of effort behind UV powders as we feel that they offer more long-term potential," said Mr. Albin. Currently, the company's Designkote coatings are being used on a variety of products in the RTA (ready-to-assemble), kitchen cabinet and office furniture markets. The technology provides designers almost unlimited design flexibility in a very attractive and durable finish, according to Mr. Albin, who said the company's goal for Designkote is the development of a commercial solution for the clearcoating of natural wood substrates.
Solvase for high mass parts offers UV resistance and corrosion resistance for industrial equipment such as bulldozers, earth movers and commercial and home use lawnmowers. "Consumers want super high gloss, which is very aesthetically pleasing," said Mr. Albin. "The industrial side is looking for ease of application they need something that can applied efficiently and something that will be UV stable."
H.B. Fuller has also introduced a new brand of in-stock powder coatings called Omega Caliber. The brand has been specifically designed to meet the quick turn around needs of small-to-medium job shops and custom coaters. The new line includes 105 standard weatherable chemistries, 28 metallic and 19 nonweatherable colors. It will replace the old Omega line in North America. Omega Caliber, which is sold in minimum orders of 45 lbs., is supported by a user-friendly color wheel that enables users to see an accurate representation of all in-stock colors. In the next few months, H.B. Fuller will introduce 50 new colors to the Caliber line.
PPG Industries has developed new high-temperature powder coatings that offer durability in prolonged exposure to temperatures of up to 600ŢF. Envirocron HT powder coatings are specially formulated for applications–such as automotive, appliance and lawn and garden–in which resistance to high temperatures is essential.
Envirocron HT powder coatings have good adherence characteristics that enable customers, in the proper circumstances, to recoat or touch-up products on the manufacturing line instead of scrapping them, according to the company. As a result, manufacturers can dramatically reduce their product reject rate and increase their profits.
PPG's Envirocron XMR powder coatings have the potential to greatly improve mar and scratch resistance in a broad range of industrial applications, according to the company. The improved mar and scratch resistance will provide significant value to customers, not only in extended performance on the coated part, but also in reduced handling and packaging costs in the customer's facility and during transportation, according to PPG.
|The left panel is coated with black Envirocron XMR, polyester powder coating from PPG, and the right panel is coated with a standard polyester powder coating. Both have been subjected to 10 double rubs of steel wool.|
Some of Akzo Nobel Powder Coatings' latest developments include Collection Futura, a new range of architectural coatings for the European market, Interpon Woodcote, for low temperature curing, and Interpon AC (advanced cavity) which utilizes particle management powders and is designed to improve application of powder into recesses, cavities and corners. In addition, "We continue to roll out our patented Interpon Express color mixing technology around the world," said Mr. Higgins. "We are already color mixing commercially in powder in UK, Sweden, U.S., France and China. Roll-out continues in Korea and Australia very soon."
As the market continues to grow, companies are increasing production and branching out to expand their product offerings to new customers and new regions.
Becker Powder Coatings in North America, which has recently expanded production capabilities at its Grove City, OH plant, and has plans for additional expansion.
"Now that the economy is recovering in North America, our plans for the next 18 months are to double production capacity in Ohio," said Mr. Johnson. "We are expanding into the West Coast market as well as Mexico and Canada, where we already have a significant market share."
H.B. Fuller has entered into a joint venture with Jotun in the area of pipe and valve coatings for products such as underground delivery pipes.
Akzo Nobel is investing $11.8 million in its powder coatings facility at Cernobbio in Italy. The move represents the launch of an expansion plan which will double powder production capacity at the site, according to the company.
Rohm and Haas has been busy expanding its business globally and through R&D. The Morton Powder Coatings division of Rohm and Haas has formed a research and development alliance with Cyclis Corp. to develop low-viscosity powder coating formulations using Cyclics CBT resins. The low viscosity of Cyclics CBT resin will help this business develop powder coatings to create thinner thermoplastic coatings than are currently possible with standard thermoplastics.
Kolorfusion International Inc. has entered a license agreement with PowderCoat Services, Inc., of Anaheim, CA, a provider of coating services to Fortune 500 companies. The Kolorfusion process allows any design to be transferred into a powder-coated surface.
A Major Sale
Increased market pressure has resulted in further industry consolidation. The most recent transaction was announced in early August, as Ferro decided to exit the powder business by selling its operations to Akzo Nobel and Rohm and Haas, parent company of Morton Powder.
Through the accord, Akzo Nobel will acquire Ferro Corporation's powder coatings business in the Americas and Asia-Pacific region in a transaction valued at $73 million. Under terms of the deal, Akzo Nobel will take over all of Ferro's powder operations in the U.S., including factories in Nashville, TN and Brecksville, OH, and development and management facilities in Cleveland, OH. In the Asia-Pacific region, the deal includes the purchase of Ferro's powder coatings operations in Ningbo, China, as well as its joint venture interests in Ulsan, South Korea.
In the second part of the sale, Rohm and Haas gains the European assets of Ferro Corporation's powder coatings business for approximately $60 million. (Ferro's powder coatings business produces materials used mostly by manufacturers of metal products to finish products like automotive wheels, home appliances and window frames.) Assets acquired include manufacturing operations in the UK, Germany and Spain, an extensive sales and distribution network throughout Europe and strong market positions in the automotive, construction, appliance and general industrial market segments, according to Rohm and Haas.
Mr. Higgins of Akzo Nobel sees new growth opportunities emerging all the time for powder, both in new territories like eastern Europe or new manufacturing economies like Vietnam and Turkey.
"We will continue to invest in distinctive technologies because we believe we need to continually innovate for the benefit of our customers and to enable powder to provide all the finishing solutions where it needs to," said Mr. Higgins. "New technologies like UV-curing powders are next on the horizon in order to meet new challenges presented by for example plastics.
The powder coatings market will grow as companies continue to meet these challenges and make inroads into new markets.
"The future lies in the conversion of liquid coatings to powder coatings," said Mr. Frauman. "This road is going to be paved with R&D and new products. Key areas for growth include wood, plastic, coil and automobile body. You have already begun to see major global producers individually align with one or more of these key growth opportunities."
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