High Performance Pigments

By Kerry Pianoforte | July 26, 2007

High performance pigment suppliers must balance cost with value-added features and benefits in order to remain competitive.

High performance pigment (HPP) suppliers must meet a number of challenges in order to remain successful. Not only must their products meet the high performance expectations of coatings manufacturers, such as increased durability and enhanced aesthetics, but they also must be able to provide it at a reasonable cost.

"Customers expect performance, quality and technical support as well as competitively priced pigments," said Don McBride, COO, Heubach. "Heubach's worldwide R&D resources are combined to provide our customers with pigment technology for a wide variety of application fields."

When purchasing HPP the lowest price might not necessarily represent the best value. "Performance varies and depends on the market or application," said Tom Hughes, business development/product line manager for JDSU's flex products group. "Our products have excellent performance in terms of long-term weathering and chemical resistance. But the real performance that customers want is value, which includes durability, ease of application and highly unique color design capability."

"Traditionally, aesthetics were the most important consideration," said Thierry Chevrier, director, performance chemicalspigments and additives, for BASF in North America. "Increasingly, functionality is becoming a primary driver for many applications, for example, the ability to deliver heat reflection or IR transparency."

Liquid Metal, a new paint jointly developed by DaimlerChrysler and BASF Coatings features the integration of a special effect pigment into a waterborne paint system. The special effect particles are thinner and flatter than the particles in regular metallic paint, producing an extremely metallic look. Mercedes is the first car manufacturer to use this environmentally-friendly process.
HPPs are used in a variety of applications, from industrial to automobile coatings, which have a multitude of specific requirements. "In general, customers expect products at a reasonable price that are easy to handle in manufacturing with respect to dispersion and formulation," said William Zonin, technical manager of coatings, Clariant. "High performance pigments are usually associated with outstanding weather fastness properties."

Selecting the best pigment for a formulation is key to getting the most value from a HPP.

"High performance pigments usually come along with a high price requiring the formulator to get all that he is paying for," said Zonin. "The formulator should be sure he is using the correct pigment and that he is using the pigment correctly. He should know his requirements and select a suitable pigment and not over or under the job."

Providing technical support is also important in helping coatings manufacturers select the best HPP for their formulation. "Customers want more than a source for materials," said Chevrier. "They need high-end technical service and support as well. BASF offers CoolSIM heat management software, which allows formulators to predict the Total Solar Reflectance (TSR) of coatings using a computer saving lab resources and expenses."

Despite the bigger price tag, in many cases the benefits of HPP far outweigh the added costs. "The balance of costs versus features and benefits is always an issue," said Chevrier. "We see tremendous opportunity for pigments that combine color with functionality, particularly in the automobile industry."

"Our products provide a chemist or designer with the ability to develop unique, high-value colors and products that help differentiate the brand owner's product," said Hughes. "They are extremely durable in terms of long-term weather and standing up to severe application processes without losing color or performance properties."

Much like the rest of the pigments market, suppliers of HPPs are faced with rising costs. "Cost is a major challenge in today's market," said Zonin. "With the high level of crude oil prices and continuing rise in energy costs, raw materials become more costly. The challenge is the commitment in maintaining the right products with high quality and service to meet customer demands."

"It is a known fact that pricing for higher performing pigments has declined due to low cost suppliers as well as the need from the end user due to very competitive market conditions," said McBride. "The challenge for the formulator is to select the supplier that will provide a competitively priced pigment that will also meet their quality criteria. Companies that are committed to their markets provide quality and service for all products."

Another challenge is the increasing pressure on costs, such as manufacturing costs that continue to increase while the market demands lower selling prices, according to Hughes. "We approach this by enhancing the value of our customers' brands or products, and that allows them to increase product differentiation and market share," he said.

To counter these challenges, HPP suppliers are rising to the ocassion by delivering value-added products. "The high performance pigment market has encountered recent changes due to rising competitive non-traditional areas and cost pressure from our end users," said Andre Bendo, industry manger, business line coatings, Ciba Specialty Chemicals. "Delivering value through durability, processing or formulation improvements has become paramount to sustain tangible advantages over mid-performance pigments and maintain market attractiveness."

HPP suppliers are always looking for ways to deliver better value by developing new products to meet their customer's increasing demand.

"BASF is a market-focused company, so customer needs are a key driver in our development efforts," said Chevrier. "We are also focused on sustainability and eco-efficiency-innovations that help improve the quality of life. BASF embraces sustainable development as a core belief because it balances economic growth, environmental protection and social responsibility. BASF has developed an eco-efficiency analysis that looks at the entire lifecycle of a product, from the extraction of raw materials to products use to recycling or disposal after use."

According to Chevrier, this analysis allows both economic and environmental factors to be considered when developing products and processes. The objective is to offer the best possible cost-effective products with good environmental performance.

Heubach is continuing its R&D work to expand its color pallete to include PR 202 and the development of further DPP reds and oranges along with high performance naphthols and benzimidazolones. "These products are in various stages of development with some almost complete," said McBride. "The development of brilliant orange and red as well as antimony and chromium-free complex inorganic colored pigments are only two of our challenges in the future for the inorganic line. Further developments which include both organic and inorganic pigments are easy dispersible or stir-in pigments."

Nanotechnology is another area of interest for R&D labs. "Nanotechnology will most likely include some interesting future perspective for anticorrosion applications, but the feasibility of that technology for industrial use, especially in respect to the handling and costs, has not yet been proven," McBride continued.

Heubach is in contact with different universities and institutes, who are engaged with nanotechnology and plans to participate in one of these projects as soon as any industrial consumption comes closer to reality.

JDSU is working on a number of new products, including new nano-sized pigments and new colors based on its SpectraFlair diffractive silver pigment. "We are evaluating new forms of our technology for improved application in the environmentally compliant waterborne and powder coatings," said Hughes. "We are also increasing our capabilities and expertise in the decorative printing area that will allow us to increase our design and application support in this market area."

New HPP Offerings

Ciba Specialty Chemicals has recently launched two new high performance pigments, Irgazin DPP Cosmoray Orange and Irgazine DP Rubine TRI. These applications are mainly automotive coatings, such as OEM, refinish and plastic coatings. Ciba Irgazin DPP Cosmoray Orange, a transparent, highly chromatic orange, will open a whole new spectrum of bright, intense metallic/mica shades and provides scope for red shades with yellow shift in hue. Irgazin Cosmoray Orange offers excellent durability and is intended for use in both waterborne and solventborne systems.

Ciba Irgazin DPP Rubine TRI is a universal, transparent blue-shade red pigment which enables waterborne and solventborne use without compromising rheology performance and offers excellent durability.

Clariant has developed a range of easy dispersible (ED) pigments to simplify and reduce cost of the customer's manufacturing process. "Dispersion of dry pigment powder is time consuming, requires costly equipment and highly technical expertise to achieve maximum value use," said Zonin. "Clariant's new range of ED pigments can be high speed dispersed without additional milling, thereby lowering manufacturing costs and improving productivity. The new ED pigments include a surface treatment eliminating the need for the customer to add costly dispersants." In addition, Clariant has developed Hostaperm Violet RL-WD, a PV 23 with excellent compatibility in water-based systems to achieve much higher strength and higher chroma. New chromophors include Hostaperm Yellow H7G (PY 219), a green shade high performance yellow with excellent durability for use in both solvent-based and water-based systems. Clariant also recently added DPP pigments, Hostaperm Red D2G 70 and Hostaperm Red D3G 70 to the product portfolio.

Clariant's new Easy Dispersible range is developed for solvent-based industrial coatings which include high quality applications requiring outdoor durability. The Hostaperm Violet RL-WD is ideal for water-based automotive systems requiring high transparency. Hostaperm Yellow H7G is an ideal combination partner with Bismuth Vanadate (Hostaperm Oxide BV) in high performance systems including automotive refinish. Hostaperm Red D2G 70 and Hostaperm Red D3G 70 are recommended for automotive finishes and high quality industrial coatings.

BASF's recent developments include Lumogen technology which combines high jetness with infrared (IR) transparency, recent development efforts to formulate chromaticity in micas products, an increasing emphasis on pigments that help dramatically increase the reflectivity of medium to darker colors and Xfast stir-in granular pigments that reduce energy and labor requirements," said Chevrier. "These pigments can be used across all applications, including architectural, industrial and automobile coatings. In particular, our broad portfolio of cool coatings helps customers respond to new regulations for industrial and auto applications."

Heubach has developed a PR 254, diketopyrrolo pyrrole red and a quinacridone red, PR 122, for high performance technologies. "Applications for these organic pigments include automotive, architectural, universal colorants and all industrial coatings," said McBride."We now also have a full range of IR reflecting pigments with the addition of two blacks, PG 17 and PBlk 30."

JDSU has launched a highly reflective bright silver pigment, SpectraFlair Bright Silver and ChromaFlair ColorShift glitter. "SpectraFlair Bright Silver can be used in a variety of applications, from paint to plastics to decorative printing," said Hughes. "The product is extremely durable, is easy to incorporate into a coating and provides a spectacular bright silver appearance in a very smooth flake. The ChromaFlair ColorShift glitter is a large 0.06-inch hexagon flake and can be used wherever a glitter-type pigment is used, including specialty coatings, floorings and plastics."

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