Additives Market Update

By Kerry Pianoforte | January 8, 2009

Suppliers discuss the effects of the bad economy on the additives market.

The additives market, as is the case for the coatings market as a whole, has continued to feel the effects of the bad economy. "In general, the additives industry enjoyed volume growth during the first months of 2008 and started to feel the economic slowdown as of mid-year depending on the region," said Joachim Diem, marketing manager, specialty additives, Europe, Middle East and Asia, Air Products. "During the fourth quarter business conditions in important markets like automotive, residential housing and commercial construction deteriorated and have yet to improve."

"A critical factor affecting the additives market is the continued slowdown of the North American housing market and its impact on the building and construction industry," added Shruti Singhal, group market manager for field marketing, North America, Rohm and Haas. "VOC regulations and issues of paint odor are also factors not only for additives, but for other paint ingredients as well. These issues present opportunities to the additives supplier who is best positioned to help paint formulators select the right product to meet current requirements."

"Additive sales into architectural coatings are very much a function of construction and remodeling activity," said William Woods, marketing manager, industrial biocides, International Specialty Products (ISP). "This sector of the economy is down and until a turnaround occurs, additive sales will remain flat to down."

According to David Deters, VP and general manager of King's coatings additives division, the additive business has been negatively impacted by the economy. "After an extremely robust business for the first nine months of the year, it now is tracking the economic conditions worldwide," he said. "This downturn not only reflects the more traditional end of the year reductions, but more importantly mirrors the state of the business for specific application areas. A good example is obviously the auto industry that has experienced close to a 40% reduction in production this quarter. Perhaps what is unique with this particular slowdown is the fact that it is global."

"Because of the financial and economic crisis, there is a decline in orders for almost all applications compared to the previous year," said Suzanne Beckmann, marketing analyst, Clariant. "Our customers are suffering from over capacities due to the decrease in global demand. We do expect any improvement until the end of Q2 2009, beginning of Q3 2009."

Most additive suppliers Coatings World spoke with agreed that business has slowed overall, particularly in the last quarter, but there are some specialized coatings segments that have not slowed to the extent of the majority.

"Coating formulators are still typically looking for one of three driving factors: innovation, ease-of-use formats and lower cost," said Maria Nargiello, senior technology manager, inorganic materials-SI Coatings for Evonik Degussa Corp. "Form�ulation developments continue to move towards environmentally friendly technologies; be they waterborne, high solids, radiation cure or powder. As these technologies move forward, more solutions are sought to address the hurdles these technologies encounter. We still see formulation development, particularly in NAFTA even in the standard solvent-based coatings arena, where solutions are being sought for additives that are compatible with VOC exempt solvents and offer innovation, ease-of-use characteristics and lower cost."

Additives suppliers must use these challenges to develop innovative products that will set them apart from their competition. "In the past, an economic downturn automatically meant R&D budgets were slashed and companies were downsized," said Andrea Nap�lowski, marketing manager, Tego Coating Additives and Specialty Resins. "Presently, more companies are taking a long-term view that the economy is cyclical and that they need to be ready to compete when conditions improve. We actually have seen an increase in interest from the research community. On the other side, fewer housing starts and an overall poor economic performance makes business very tough on the smaller paint companies. We are certain that some will find it very difficult to find the resources necessary to keep up with the changes the market is demanding. Our expectation is that we will see further consolidation of the market."

Additionally, rising raw material prices continue to plague the industry. "I think a very consistent trend over 2008 was as oil prices escalated over the first six to seven months of the year, raw material price increases dominated the market news and as the dollar per barrel price receded, so have many of those prices," said Nargiello. "Mirroring the general economy, it was a very volatile year for raw material prices. I think with this volatility in the market place, formulators have sought different solutions, outside the typical go-to products and this has opened opportunities for new, less traditional solutions to be considered."

"Raw material prices have been volatile to say the least," said Deters. "From a period of seemingly daily price increases as crude oil drove to record levels to some minimal reductions as the price of crude has retracted. I think practically everyone in the additive business absorbed those increases until it became economically unfeasible to do so and had to pass along a portion of those and escalating energy costs onto their customers. While select raw material costs rose as much as 226% by mid-summer, none have receded close to that extent by year-end. Reductions have been slow."

New additive technology

Formulators should consider additives that will not only solve the problem at hand but offer additional benefits to the specific product or process. "Another major consideration of choosing a new additive for complicated formulations with several additives already in the system, is to first understand the functions of the additives already in the system," said Nargiello. "We refer to these types of complicated formulations as 'legacy systems' or 'witch's brews' where the formulations have developed over� many years and the formulator has no knowledge about why additives in the system are there to start with. We suggest to try and avoid just fixing the problem with another additive on top of the myriad of products already in the system."

Evonik offers a number of high performance additives. Acematt matting agents offer consistent, highly transparent, gloss reducing solutions suitable for green technologies like UV, high solids and water-based coatings technologies. Inxel pigment preparations are high-speed dispersible pigment solutions for solventborne formulations. They offer manufacturers and formulators highly durable, color pigment technology options which are easy-to-use, eliminating the necessity of costly milling steps and clean-up, while allowing easy expansion into new color space. Aeroxide fumed metal oxides are used for improving free flow, fluidization of powder coatings and bringing transparent, highly conductive or IR absorbing characteristics to specialized coating systems.

Formulators should look to an additive to help them achieve their needs from the lab through paint manufacturing and application. "The additive that enables them to reach the performance targets in all these steps will be the best choice," said Bernadette Corujo, director, NAFTA marketing, coatings, Ciba Corp. "In addition to the selection of the additive, formulators should consider the supplier's reputation for quality and consistency."

Ciba has launched several additives for coatings this year including Ciba EFKA 250, a silicone-based defoamer for water-based architectural coatings; EFKA 4310 and 4320 high molecular weight dispersants made via a controlled-free radical polymerization process for solvent-based coil and plastic coatings used in industrial and automotive coatings and Tinuvin 477, a high performance, red shifted UV absorber for SB and liquid UV curable coatings.

"The choice of an additive should be based on the value added to the product and cost in use and not on the specific cost of the additive," said Izzy Colon, VP and GM, Troy Europe. "The trend is to provide additive products focused on green coatings. These additives allow the coating manufacturer to offer coatings that are no VOC, have low impact on humans and the environment and are made with renewable resources where possible."

Troy has launched a number of additives, notably Troysol Z377, a no VOC acrylic flow additive for solvent systems; Troysol MS350, a slip and mar additive for aqueous systems; Troysol WD95, a no VOC, APE-free pigment dispersant for aqueous systems and Troysol Z370, a no VOC wetting and flow additive for solvent systems.

"Formulators have to value the benefit of additives in their formulation," said Napalowski. "Additives take only a small part in a formulation volume-wise, but they have a huge impact on the properties of the final product. Regrettably, additives are often judged by their cost instead of performance. Most of the time, the formulator is able to save overall cost by adding an additive and at the same time improve the properties of the coating or ink." Tego has recently added Tego Foamex 883 and 885 to its portfolio for low VOC waterborne architectural coatings.

Product differentiation is a key consideration, especially during a difficult economic time. "Formulators should look for unique additive solutions that will help them differentiate their paints and coatings," said Singhal. This may take the form of additives that are compatible with low-VOC paint, provide improved sag resistance, and enhance viscosity stability upon the addition of colorant." Rohm and Haas has developed a number of new products. Acrysol RM-3000 nonionic associative thickener is a hydrophobically-modified ethylene-oxide urethane (HEUR) rheology modifier provided in a solvent-free form. Acrysol RM-5000 rheology modifier is a solvent-free, nonionic associative thickener suitable for both interior and exterior latex paints.

Air Products has launched four new ZetaSperse pigment dispersing additives designed to meet the needs of the aqueous dispersion of high performance and problematic pigments. ZetaSperse 2500 additive was designed for robust viscosity stability with metal salt reds and similar organic pigment chemistries. Zeta�Sperse 3100 additive offers broad compatibility with a range of carbon black pigment grades.

Clariant has launched a number of products under the Licocene name, including micronized versions of these waxes. To meet the current shortage for montan waxes, Clariant has also added two new replacement products, Licoclub CE 2 and WM 31, to its portfolio.

King Industries has developed a number of non-tin, mercury free catalysts. K-Kat XC-604, XC-617 and XC-618 are for urethane coatings, cast elastomers and foam applications. Nacure XC-205, a blocked sulfonic acid catalyst, has been specifically designed to offer superior resistance to popping and blistering in coil primers and topcoats. A series of sulfonate ester- amine-free blocked catalysts have been developed offering improved stability with anti-corrosive pigments for coil primers and topcoats, general industrial primers and primers for appliance coatings.

For coatings, ISP has launched low to no-VOC industrial biocides based on no- or low-odor, non-metallic, totally organic chemical actives. For in-can preservation and paint-film mildew protection, water-based dispersions of the actives BIT and IPBC have been developed and patented. In addition, a new-line of formaldehyde-free in-can preservatives based on combinations of Bronopol and isothiazolinones has been launched.

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