While the paint and coatings market has had some difficult times in recent years, many resin manufacturers say they saw gains during the past year, and are more optimistic about the market going forward.
Tina Snider, marketing manager, wood, wood composites and concrete resins and performance additives for Industrial Coatings, Dispersions & Pigments Division, North America, BASF Corporation , said that BASF saw glimmers of recovery, although economic indicators for 2012 were mixed.
“Construction started to return in different segments and should continue in 2013,” Snider added.
“The specialty resins have recovered and continue to grow following the recession in 2010. We have seen strong demand for the specialty performance epoxy resins,” said Charles Zarnitz, product line manager epoxies for Emerald Performance Materials’ CVC Thermoset Specialties business group. “These materials typically are used in high performance applications such as industrial maintenance, primers in automotive and aerospace, and concrete coatings.”
Steve Reiser, Specialty Polymers, Inc. ‘s vice president of sales, noted that the 2012 resins market was much improved from the economic downturn of the last few years.
“Specialty Polymers participates in a wide range of markets, and last year we saw some of these markets performing better than others,” Reiser added. “Some were even up significantly. Generally speaking, all markets appear to be performing better than the lows of 2008, 2009 and 2010.”
“Our customers have stayed loyal through the market ups and downs and we continue to add new customers,” said Peter Boyer, senior technical sales representative at Georgia-Pacific Chemicals. “That said, we sense there is a real feeling of optimism among our customers right now.”
Carl Sullivan, vice president, commercial coatings, Reichhold, said that 2012 showed minimal growth in most coatings markets from Reichhold’s perspective. “Waiting for a rebound is not a good business path,” Sullivan added.
“The recovery we see is not consistent, and growth is specific for certain markets and regions,” said Yasmin Sayed-Sweet, vice president, sales and marketing for Alberdingk Boley, Inc. (AB).
Meeting Customers’ Needs
With competition ever increasing and costs a concern, coatings manufacturers are looking for more for less. Resin suppliers are doing what they can to help out.
“Although it sounds cliché, everyone is very busy and doing more with less,” Snider said. “Anything, a product or service, that can remove complexity or solve a problem leads to a win for all involved. Customers require clear, concise communication and problem solving support.”
“With the weak market, price pressures are rather significant,” Sullivan noted. “However, more significant is the willingness to target differentiated products that provide unique performance features.”
Zarnitz noted that customers are always seeking improved value and performance.
“For specialty epoxy systems, customers seek improved elevated temperature performance, flexibility, toughness, adhesion, longer recoat times and blush resistance,” Zarnitz added.
Improved performance is another key need.
“The principal demands are to meet higher performance with less film thickness, lower or zero VOC with no odor, higher renewable content for polyurethane dispersions and 2K performance in a 1K product,” Sayed-Sweet said.
Boyer said that a common theme is a demand for performance that is tailored to a customer’s end use.
“Our customers value the expertise and technical resources Georgia-Pacific Chemicals provides to help them meet the challenges of today’s marketplace,” Boyer added. “While there’s no denying that we must all continuously improve upon our cost efficiencies, the demand for GP Chemicals’ knowledge and service capabilities continues to grow.”
John Schierlmann, product manager at Specialty Polymers, Inc., said customers are looking for more technical support and personal attention from their resin suppliers.
“Throughout the industry, companies are dealing with increased raw material prices, as well as the rising costs of health insurance, freight and other operating expenses,” Schierlmann, explained. “Customers want to lower their costs, but need equal or improved performance. To help get there, and because many customers have reduced their lab staff, they are putting more pressure on their resin supplier to provide technical support. Customers want this support face-to-face with their suppliers. This involves both more customer sales and technical service calls.”
Rising Costs of Raw Materials
The pricing volatility of raw materials for resins has made planning difficult for resin makers as well as their coatings customers.
“Raw materials are a large part of our costs,” Reiser said. “Specialty Polymers works very closely in partnering with our suppliers to get the best raw material costs. We also look to our suppliers to bring us new raw materials, which could provide lower costs or better performance to our customers.”
Snider said that balancing supply and demand requirements for manufacturing resins of all types requires cross-functional team effort.
“We continually work closely with our business, manufacturing and development teams along with our suppliers and customers to meet industry demands,” Snider added. “Delivery costs continue to impact overall costs with the cost of fuel and delivery time demands placed on the trucking industry.”
“Managing price with our customers is a continuous, time consuming process that keeps us whole and keeps our customers competitive,” Sullivan said. “Simultaneously, the R&D and development teams remain completely separate from this process, and thereby bring new, differentiated, innovative products to market.”
Sayed-Sweet said that the higher raw material costs requires new manufacturing processes.
“Not only has the cost of manufacturing increased, but also we have not seen any new and unique acrylic monomers in the market,” said Sayed-Sweet. “We at AB are developing unique manufacturing processes to build reactive components in an unconventional way imparting unique properties.”
Working closely with customers to keep them informed is an important part of the process.
“As costs rise and customer demands increase, companies need to operate more efficiently,” Reiser said. “We find the more closely we work with our customers, the better we can balance their needs with our resources. Over the past two years, Specialty Polymers has expanded both their sales and technical group. These folks are working closer than ever with our customers to ensure we clearly understand their application and performance requirements. To meet the flexibility in delivery volumes and lead times customers need, we’ve invested significant capital in our production facilities.”
“At GP Chemicals, we continuously challenge ourselves to assess how our products create value for the customer and what might be done to create even more value,” Boyer said. “As industry costs rise as a result of REACH regulations and raw material costs, we proactively communicate with our customers so there is a general understanding and agreement of the cost/value relationships facing the market.”
To meet the needs of their coatings customers, resin manufacturers are working overtime to develop new innovations.
BASF’s Joncryl PRO 1525 was introduced as a DTM and topcoat WB 1K resin with improved hardness and block resistance for high gloss(>80 at 60°) low film (<2 mils) light-duty industrial metal applications. To address the low VOC needs of the automotive refinish market, BASF launched Joncryl RPD 950-AC/P polyol for solventborne 2K polyurethane systems. Joncryl RPD 980-B targets the general industrial market, offering superior chemical resistance properties along with rapid set to touch, excellent dry hard and dry through characteristics.
One of Specialty Polymers’ new core shell resins is RayCryl 709, a self-crosslinking acrylic emulsion designed for low VOC coatings, sealers and stains on a wide range of substrates. Its unique core shell technology provides good water resistance and hardness with low coalescent demand. It has outstanding UV durability that allows it to be formulated into exterior coating for wood and cement based substrates. This small particle size, self-cross-linking emulsion provides excellent water resistant coatings with excellent film clarity.
Specialty Polymers’ RayCore 9534 is a new self crosslinking core shell acrylic urethane copolymer designed to exhibit good physical properties for concrete, wood, plastics and architectural. Due to the polycarbonate polyurethane dispersion the company utilizes in processing, the resin has excellent chemical and UV resistance. The product exhibits very good scratch resistance and adhesion.
Emerald’s CVC Thermoset Specialties business group launched a new series of HYPRO hydroxyl terminated reactive liquid polymers (HTBs). These HTB polyols may be used for production of soft, flexible urethanes, even at low temperatures with enhanced hydrolytic stability. According to Jeff Tyrrell, reactive liquid polymers product manager for Emerald’s CVC business group, these products are ideal for water-proof coatings and membranes, window sealants, encapsulants and adhesives. Two compositions are available – HYPRO 2800X95 and HYPRO1200X90.
Alberdingk Boley introduced LUX 255, a new UV curable PUD offering excellent scratch resistance, good chemical resistance and very fast water release with quick cure response, as well as U 7800, a new solvent-free PUD which can be formulated at low VOC, offering excellent abrasion resistance, good chemical resistance and high hardness.
Scott Cooley, North American coatings technology director at Reichhold, noted that a few examples of Reichhold’s low VOC, biobased products are BECKOSOL AQ210 and BECKOSOL AQ 521. BECKOSOL AQ 210 is an alkyd latex containing biobased oils, and does not require coalescing solvent for film formation. Metal primers formulated with this product match the performance of higher-end traditional solvent- borne alkyds. BECKOSOL AQ 521 is a low VOC epoxy modified alkyd latex made with biobased oils that gives a “wet look” appearance on porous concrete.
There is strong interest in environmentally friendly, “green” technologies, and understandably, resin manufacturers are involved in developing more biobased products.
Cooley noted that the term “green technology” has evolved to mean more than just low VOC. “Green technology has expanded to include the use of biobased materials as a polymer building block,” Cooley said. “Reichhold has a developed an alkyd latex technology platform that is comprised largely of biobased materials and is low VOC. Many of our alkyd latex resins were submitted to the USDA BioPreferred program and carry the USDA Certified Biobased Product Label. These products are sold under the BECKOSOL AQ trade name.”
“In all product development efforts, we strive to meet market needs, which more often need to meet environmental regulations,” Snider said. “New water-based resins developed are targeted to meet the lower VOC requirements of their specific market and be APEO-free. In addition, our biobased Sovermol polyols are 100% solids offering a range of properties for various SB 2K coating applications.”
“Alberdingk Boley is backward integrated in castor and linseed oils; we have launched sustainable polyurethane dispersions based on these two oils for various substrates,” Sayed-Sweet said. “We have also developed multi-phase acrylic emulsions, which can be formulated to meet low to zero VOC requirements. These products are also APEO-free and contain self-crosslinking technologies that allow for a one-component system with high end performance.”
“One of our strengths is the ability to reformulate products, whether to meet customer or regulatory requirements,” Boyer said. “For instance, we are providing our customers with products with higher solids and water-based offerings. Our successes include, for example, product reformulations that have helped our customers adapt to the need for lower VOCs.”
“Our product platform lends itself to low VOC coatings applications,” Zarnitz said. “We manufacture a range of low viscosity, 100% solids resins, reactive diluents and modifiers that allow for high solids, low VOC formulations. We also supply a variety of epoxides that are manufactured from ‘green’ renewable resources, such as ERISYS GE60, which is based from sorbitol/sugar.”
Schierlmann said that Specialty Polymers has developed a line of resins that can be formulated into high performance coatings and meet the ever increasing demand for lower VOCs.
“The unique core shell technology utilized in these resins provides for exceptional water, chemical, scratch and early block resistance in a wide range of applications,” said Schierlmann. “These new core shell resins have a much lower solvent demand than resins traditional used in a high performance application. Meeting the demand for low VOC coatings, without sacrificing performance, has been a challenge for customers. Specialty Polymers’ goal with this new line of resins is to meet this customer need.”