Resins Market Update

By Kerry Pianoforte | April 6, 2009

The global economic downturn has slowed the demand for paint and coatings. However, an increased demand for "green" products is one bright spot for resin manufacturers.

The global recession has had far reaching consequences, impacting housing starts, construction and consumer spending. This economic downturn has slowed demand for paint and coatings and as a result, resins.

"Whether you look at paint manufacturers, big-boxes or independent retailers, the market for paints is down, thus, the market for resins is down as well," said Craig Mitchell, marketing manager for paints and coatings, Celanese Emulsion Polymers. "Both the slow economy and lower new home construction rates have impacted businesses throughout the supply chain. In 2008, we witnessed the downturn in the U.S. and in 2009 we see that Mexico and Canada are following closely behind."

"The economic downturn has lowered the housing starts and general construction activity in the U.S.," said Steve Wilson, marketing manager coatings, Eliokem. "In general, consumers are controlling their spending much more than in normal periods. Both of these actions have led to a lowering of demand for architectural coatings which of course has lowered the demand for resins that are used in manufacturing these coatings."

The economic crisis has affected the automotive, construction and consumer markets in particular. "Production has slowed substantially, and so the consumption of resins and additives has slowed as well," said Terry Scoville global marketing manager, liquid coating and resins, Cytec Industries. "However, innovation continues to be resourced and funded. This has allowed suppliers to capture new opportunities, and strengthen their market position for when the economy turns around."

While, the economic downturn, especially the sluggish housing market, has slowed the demand for paint and coatings, Shruti Singhal, Rohm and Haas group market manager for field marketing, paint and coatings materials North America said, "Homeowners are finding that painting is a very economical way to freshen up the look of their homes and can even make it more attractive to potential buyers if selling is their goal, while on the industrial side a fresh coating will not only protect a very valuable investment but will also provide an attractive appearance and project a clean, quality image to employees and the neighboring community."

In addition to lowered demand, rising raw material prices have had a huge impact on resin makers. Resin makers have had to carefully look at their manufacturing practices and develop methods to save energy and be more efficient

"In the past 18 months the industry has seen unprecedented volatility in petroleum, feed stocks and raw materials," said Bud Equi global marketing manager, liquid coating and resins, Cytec Industries. "Fortunately, Cytec and our customer base are well informed of these conditions and work closely with each other to find the best possible solutions. Our goal is to balance the needs of all of our stakeholders."

According to Mitchell, raw material prices actually appear to be leveling off in early 2009. "But, slower overall demand means watching our production costs just like our customers, the paint manufacturers," he said. "As a business who prides itself on controlling our internal costs, Celanese Emulsions is optimizing its manufacturing and working even more closely with our customers to forecast their demand and ensure that we are meeting their needs in a timely manner."

Rohm and Haas uses long-term efficiency and sustainability practices in its manufacturing sites which allows significant improvements to be made in plant operations as well as in environmental, health and safety performance, according to Singhal. "Rohm and Haas has also introduced products that allow coatings formulators to manufacture their coatings more efficiently and help to save costs," he added. "They are more TiO2 efficient, have a lower coalescent demand, and are more rheology modifier efficient. Rohm and Haas also offers binders that can be used in a variety of paint types, e.g. flats, sheen, and semigloss, allowing one binder to replace two or three others."

One way Eliokem manages rising manufacturing costs is energy savings. "In 2007 and 2008 Eliokem focused considerable efforts to manage energy costs not only with environmental savings but also financial," said Wilson. "In 2008 Eliokem also won an Energy Saver award from the U.S. Department of Energy for process improvements in thermostatic controls, insulation, recovering heat from air compressing and using it in the building and hot water heat exchangers. Eliokem is also constantly evaluating process improvements in our manufacturing facilities as a way to lower costs."

Green Products

Even in these challenging econcomic times, resin manufacturers recognize opportunities for growth. Developing innovative products is one way a company can stay afloat. Demand for energy efficient, green products is increasing and resin makers have invested considerable resources in bringing these products to market.

"There is a silver lining in the market because there is an increased demand for green products," said Mitchell. "There are two drivers for this: increasingly stringent regulations and marketing advantages. As regional VOC regulations continue to tighten and as green certification criteria continue to evolve, paint manufacturers are continuing to move forward with low to no VOC paints. They realize that the regulations will not stem just because of a bad economy. They also realize that the best market trend to capture right now is in the area of green paints."

"The economic downturn has one positive effect on the resins market," said Nicole O'Brien of Nolax. "It gives customers the time they need to develop their new environmentally friendly products."

Nolax has recently launched WP.20 and DXV.4051 resins. "WP.20 is an additive for coatings that allows film formation in temperatures less than 50F and with 95% humidity," said O'Brien. "This is very unique chemistry, and there is nothing like it on the market. It allows the end user to extend their season into the early and later winter. This translates into more sales for our customers. DXV.4051 is a Veova/acrylic resin for manufacturing outside paints. It is very hyrdrophobic and water resistant. The finished paint even has a 'beading-up' effect, and silicones can be replaced. It also has low water uptake and excellent flexibility."

Cytec has recently launched two new resins. Beckopox EP 386 is a versatile, solid epoxy dispersion well suited for the rigors of high performance protective coatings. It is shear stable, allowing for pigments to be dispersed directly. "When combined with Beckopox VEH 2188 amine hardener, it has outstanding corrosion resistance properties, exceeding 1,000 hours without the use of corrosion inhibiting pigments," said Scoville. "Combined with Beckopox EH 623 hardener, the system has excellent chemical, abrasion and adhesion properties on concrete."

Cytec's Resdyrol AY 588 is a very low VOC, water-based alkyd hybrid which allows the development of interior and exterior high gloss trim paints below 50 g/l. These paints demonstrate high gloss appearance in brush, roll or airless spray applications. Flow and sag balance can be formulated to provide very high build, one coat hiding over primer; or in two coat, self primed applications. The fast tack free time of ResdyrolAY 588 paints allows for two coats to be applied in one day, thereby reducing time to complete projects

EcoVAE 401 is a high molecular weight vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) emulsion from Celanese that has been engineered to offer a balance of performance characteristics and to enable the development of eco-friendly coatings. This VAE emulsion exhibits a large difference between the glass transition temperature (Tg) and minimum film forming temperature (MFFT) that allows the creation of a durable film without the need for coalescing agents the primary source of VOCs in paints. EcoVAE 401 enables the formulation of paints with less than 50 g/l VOC or even lower. The surfactant technology used in EcoVAE 401 allows high performance that is comparable to APE-stabilized surfactants used in other emulsions. Improved film formation and hydroplasticizaton deliver superior touch-up performance over vinyl acrylic and all-acrylic systems. EcoVAE 401 delivers excellent scrub resistance when compared with vinyl acrylic technology.This new product, paired with Celanese's technical service and applications expertise, will readily facilitate conversion from vinyl acrylic emulsion to VAE emulsion systems by paint manufacturers to improve both the performance quality and environmental profile of their coatings.

Eliokem has focused its efforts on developing resins that permit formulation at lower VOC levels. "Pliotec CR30 is an acrylic copolymer developed specifically for less than 50g/l VOC garage floor coatings," said Wilson. "Creating a low VOC garage floor coating is a challenge, particularly when reducing the VOC to meet environmental legislation without compromising the performance of the coating. Pliotec CR30 was created and formulated into a coating which imparts excellent chemical resistance, good abrasion resistance, good resistance to hot tire pick up, has freeze/thaw stability and low temperature cure at 35 F."

Rohm and Haas has introduced a range of innovative products for both the architectural and industrial coatings markets, including solvent-free rheology modifiers, low to zero-VOC binders, and APEO-free binders. Rhoplex VSR-2015 is a 100% acrylic binder designed for interior and exterior flat to semi-gloss coatings. Rhoplex VSR-2015 is low-solvent capable and contains no APEO (alkyl phenol ethoxylate) surfactants and is low in ammonia odor. Rhoplex VSR-2015 binder does not require a coalescing solvent to pass a low temperature film formation test.

Rohm and Haas has also launched Avanse ST-410 emulsion. This new high-performance, 100% acrylic, waterborne polymer can be formulated to meet the toughest VOC standards. "Semi-transparent stains based on Avanse ST-410 do not require coalescent or heavy metal driers, they are easy to apply, and they enhance the appearance of new and weathered wood with a long-lasting finish," said Singhal. "In addition, the combination of morphology and unique particle stabilization maximizes the flow and lapping characteristics during application, while building early resistance properties upon drying."

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