The Industrial Coatings Market

By Kerry Pianoforte | June 9, 2011

Industrial coatings manufacturers express optimism for the coming year.

The industrial coatings market is beginning to recover from the recent economic downturn. The strengthening global economy has led to an increase in newbuilding and maintenance in both the private sector and public works projects. 

“In the protective and marine segments that we serve, we have seen positive growth over the past year due to the continued global economic recovery and increased activity in the industrial sectors,” said Narsi Bodapati, vice president marketing, Sherwin-Williams Protective and Marine Coatings. 

Overall the industrial coatings market experienced growth, with some segments performing better than others. “There were quite a few delays in some projects in specific segments, however other areas were less influenced by the financial crisis,” said Dimitris Likouressis, group protective marketing manager, Hempel. 

“Energy demand and supply regardless if it is based on fossil fuels, on renewables, such as wind or even nuclear, will continue being the key question during the coming decades,” Likouressis said. “The growth of the economies in the long-term and despite the current situation will result in a higher need for metals and for better infrastructure in terms of transport-related facilities, water and wastewater networks. All the above represent interesting business opportunities for us and we are definitely looking into them.”

The industrial coatings market is comprised of smaller sub-categories, such as onshore oil and gas, commercial architecture and industrial maintenance. 

“In terms of relative size, the marine, oil and gas and general commercial industrial segments are the largest global sectors we serve,” said Bodapati. “However, great opportunity is present in every market in which we operate. Our market segmentation strategy allows us to understand the customers’ needs, identify trends—often before they are articulated—and provide solutions. That is how we are pursuing our goal to be the market leader in each industry we serve.”

The commercial architecture and industrial maintenance segments stand to benefit from high-growth markets. “The emerging markets around the world represent a tremendous opportunity for protective coatings suppliers,” said Bodapati. “New infrastructure projects, such as bridges and water treatment facilities, and the growth of commercial/industrial businesses, are driving the need for coatings used for asset protection.” 

“The geographic areas that present growth opportunities are different depending on each segment. It is clear though that China, India, Brazil and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States from the former Soviet Republic) countries will be among those regions of high growth, “ said Likouressis. “This is also why we are strengthening our global supply chain with new production facilities in Poland, China, Russia, India and South America.”

Protecting assets, and the environment

Industrial coatings must protect substrates in some of the harshest conditions. Environmental legislation has added to the challenge, by forcing coatings manufacturers to develop durable coatings that both meet environmental regulations and deliver outstanding performance. 

“There has been a significant shift away from coatings that emit higher volatile organic compounds (VOCs) toward more environmentally friendly alternatives of either waterborne coatings or solvent-free coatings,” said Bodapati. “We believe this is a responsible trend and look at it as an opportunity to provide safer choices to protect our customers and the environment.” 

“Environmental legislation was, is and will always affect the market of industrial coatings, however Hempel is not waiting for the legislation to think of the environment,” said Likoressis. “From our silicon-based technologies for fouling control in the marine segment to our solvent-free solutions for practically all segments, HSE is one of the key drivers of the company development paths for the future. As to the water-based coatings, they will definitely become more and more important in the coming years. Already today our waterborne systems for the container industry, where Hempel is the global market leader, are a major success story.”

Sustainable solutions

Industrial coatings manufacturers have been proactive in developing products that will comply with current and future environmental legislation. The Valspar Corporation has commercialized a water-based technology and application process developed for the shipping container industry. China International Marine Containers (CIMC), the world’s largest container manufacturing company, has launched full-scale production of shipping containers coated with Valspar Aquaguard, a water-based and zinc-free container coating technology, at its Dalian, China factory.

“We’ve leveraged our 60-plus years of expertise in water-based coating technology to develop and deliver a superior product and application process to the shipping container industry,” said Roeland Polet, Valspar senior vice president, global industrial at Valspar. “Our technology allows the industry to improve its environmental performance by switching from solvent-based, zinc-containing materials to a water-based, zinc-free coating. Our solution will also assist manufacturers in lowering their capital and operational expenses.”

The commercialization of Valspar Aquaguard marks Valspar’s entrance into the market for shipping container coatings. The shipping container market, a segment with highly specified technical and performance requirements, is estimated by Valspar to be approximately $1 billion globally. Compared to conventional solvent-based systems used in the industry, calculations based on industry data show that use of Valspar Aquaguard would reduce solvent emissions by more than 70 percent. In addition, Valspar Aquaguard is free of zinc and offers corrosion protection as verified through field testing and independently conducted corrosion tests specified by the Institute of International Container Lessors. 

Sherwin-Williams has recently launched a number of new products for the industrial coatings market. “We pride ourselves on being an industry leader in technology and innovative ideas, and we are constantly launching new products to provide value and solutions for our customers,” said Bodapati. “Recently we launched a pair of products to combat the graffiti problems many cities are encountering.”

The first is a clear siliconized coating, Anti-Graffiti Coating, that protects the structure from graffiti by simply power washing it off. The second is a pigmented, low VOC (<100 g/L) water-based polyurethane, 2K Water-based Urethane Anti-Graffiti Coating alternative that provides excellent color and gloss along with the ability to wipe off unsightly graffiti easily using only a rag and water-based cleaner. 

Sherwin-Williams has also introduced a flexible epoxy lining for food cargoes, Car-Flex HS Epoxy, that is bisphenol A (BPA) free. This product offers a safer alternative to its customers that choose not to use products or linings that contain BPA. It can be used in rail cars, storage tanks or transportation equipment that is in direct contact with foodstuffs. These are only a few of the approximately dozen or so new technologies that Sherwin-Williams will introduce in 2011.

Hempel’s latest offering is its coatings for the rotor blades of wind turbines. “Working closely with wind turbine manufacturers who are technology leaders in their field, we have developed what probably is today, the best topcoat for blades in the world in terms of rain erosion resistance (RET),” said Likouressis. “These products protect the blades from extreme weather conditions, from sand storms in China to rain storms in the North Sea.”  

Hempel’s ultra high solids and speed (UHSS) is a system especially designed for the wind segment in order to meet the most strict environmental legislations and at the same time to bring to another level the productivity of the wind tower manufacturers. This system, which is based on polyaspartic technologies, is used by major German wind turbine manufacturers with positive results in terms of productivity gains.

On the supply side

Raw material suppliers to the industrial coatings market have had to deal with a lot of challenges—from the global recession to rising prices. However, all indications are that the economic situation is improving.  

“The market is recovering from the 2008 economic decline,” said Raphael Crawford, global marketing director, Dow Coating Materials. “The strengthening of the global economy, urban expansion, government investment in public works and continued growth in the energy sector are fueling activity globally that will require not only more coatings, but coatings that perform at or above current levels with less environmental impact.” 

Industrial coatings are applied to substrates in some of the most challenging environments. Suppliers are meeting the challenge by listening to their customers and delivering products that provide performance and environmental benefits. 

“We believe that customers are looking for improved durability, toughness and extended lifecycles for their coatings products,” said Jason Surman, coatings business development manager, Kraton Polymers LLC. “Kraton is focused on providing value to coating performance through improved adhesion and flexibility. By increasing the durability of coatings, Kraton polymers can extend the life of the coating, and reduce labor costs of recoating, bringing tremendous value in these applications.”

Specialty Polymers reports a very strong interest in emulsions for high performance coatings, where excellent chemical resistance, adhesion and corrosion resistance are important. “Each of our industrial customers has a different need,” said Steve Reiser, vice president sales and marketing at Specialty Polymers, Inc. “They are looking for products which meet their specific application, and the performance goals they’ve established for their coating. They want them quickly and they want technical support through the development process.”

Industrial coatings manufacturers have to deal with increasingly stringent environmental regulation. In order to succeed, they need their suppliers to develop products that are up to the challenge. 

“We can only expect more environmental legislation and self-regulation as we move down the value chain,” said Marie-Josée Déry-Chauvette, global strategic marketing manager, industrial coatings, Dow Coating Materials. “This is a growing opportunity for upstream suppliers who can provide innovative technologies. It’s an opportunity that will grow at a significantly faster rate than the overall industrial coatings market. It’s already starting with the trend toward water-based coatings. Water-based technologies offer a viable alternative to solvent-based technologies in targeted applications and conditions. However, the route to attaining low volatile organics (VOCs) can be achieved by more than one technology or concept. Coatings manufacturers that partner with technology providers that offer multiple solutions will be in the best position to grow.”

“Legislation has started to influence the way end users view sustainability of their products,” added Natalia Kasyanova, global business and market manager, finishes and release coatings, DuPont Fluoropolymer Solutions. “Many customers are asking for regulatory documentation to show coating materials comply with requirements. We believe there is a trend toward more sustainable offerings. DuPont currently offers a range of water- and powder-based products. Coaters are asking about water-based and powder coatings, and the move to these coatings is just starting. The transition will take time since there are many variables involved for coaters to move from solvent-based coatings to water- or powder-based coatings.”

New raw materials

Raw material suppliers to the industrial coatings market are called upon to meet coatings manufacturers’ demands for durable, compliant products.

DuPont is launching a new generation of industrial nonstick coating systems. They are made with patented DuPont GenX technology, which enables DuPont to make high performance fluoropolymers without the use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and to offer coatings with the same nonstick and chemical-resistant properties associated with DuPont coating technology. GenX technology includes a processing aid with a favorable toxicological profile. 

Dow recently launched Fastrack HE-2706 Acrylic Binder for traffic paint. This is an emulsion polymer for waterborne systems that matches the drying speed, durability, hiding and visibility performance of solventborne systems while releasing less VOC and using less latex and TiO2. Traffic paints formulated with Fastrack HE-2706 Acrylic Binder allow for VOC levels as low as 0.8 pounds/gallon. According to Dow, the bigger picture benefit, which will be very significant in rapidly urbanizing areas, is the ability to mark new roadways faster and with less traffic interruption. 

In addition, Dow has recently launched several new products stemming from its line of Prosperse Waterborne Dispersions. “The technology driving innovations under our Prosperse Dispersions product line is all about broadening low VOC options to encompass epoxies and other chemistries,” said Crawford. “We’re achieving this through the use of multiple dispersion processes, including Bluewave Technology, a proprietary mechanical dispersion process developed by Dow for producing water-based dispersions from a variety of polymers. We’re very excited about this product line because it facilitates lower solvent formulations without sacrificing any performance characteristics, including key properties like water resistance, hardness development, adhesion and dry time.”

Currently, Dow has commercialized a family of Prosperse Waterborne Epoxies.   These are for primer and mid-coat metal application. Prosperse Waterborne Epoxies are solvent-free, being manufactured without the use of solvent, allowing the formulator maximum control and flexibility over the amount of solvent in the final coating product.

Specialty Polymers has a number of new offerings for the industrial coatings market. RayCryl 4102 is a self-crosslinking acrylic emulsion for industrial wood coatings.  Coatings made with RayCryl 4102 will provide excellent clarity, superior mar resistance and scratch resistance, and minimal grain raise, according to the company. RayCryl 4105 is a self-crosslinking, 100 percent acrylic emulsion for industrial wood coatings.
It is specifically formulated to provide a ready-to-use self-sealing system. RayCryl 4105 provides outstanding mar resistance, early hardness and very high gloss. RayCryl 767 is a hard, reactive acrylic emulsion for waterborne thermoset clears and enamels.  Its crosslinkable chemistry offers outstanding block and water resistance as well as excellent exterior durability. 

Kraton Polymers is looking at ways to use its enhanced rubber segment (ERS) polymers, G1643 specifically, to help reduce solvent and VOC levels in the coatings market. “G1643 is used in the elastomeric roof coatings market and offers the best-in- class roof coatings solution with the lowest VOC level for an SEBS on the market today,” said Surman. “We are looking at how to translate this success into other coating areas.”

Further, Kraton is looking at how its functionalized HSBC (FG) polymers, specifically FG1901, can be used to improve adhesion to metal and other polar substrates. “We are excited about the opportunities we see around structural steel, tank and deck applications,” said Surman. “An example of where FG1901 could add tremendous value includes wind turbines in the ocean where coatings applications are rapidly failing in these tougher conditions. Our FG1901 polymer provides excellent adhesion to metal and very good resistance to salt water, which will help improve coating performance in that environment.”