The resins market is expected to continue its steady recovery thanks largely to gains made in both the housing and automotive markets.
“The architectural coatings market showed mid-single-digit growth in 2014,” said John J. Hiel, Arkema Coating Resins North American marketing manager. “Existing home sales is the most predictive leading indicator of architectural coatings demand and 2014’s total fell short of 2013.
“However, this was offset by continued strong unit turnover and property upkeep demands in the multi-family market, as a result of increased mobility of renters. The industrial resins market continued its slow recovery, with the automotive market being particularly strong again in 2014.”
Julie Fuell, coatings sales director at Reichhold, said that though she believes the coatings sector is slowly recovering from the economic downturn and volumes are up in certain markets for the first quarter of 2015. “We are optimistic that the increase in consumer confidence seen in March will continue to improve sales growth for the balance of 2015.”
Richard Stanley, commercial director at DIC International (USA), said that his company has seen organic growth in existing applications, particularly in the automotive and consumer electronics sectors.
Housing market improvements and lower oil prices are driving signs of recovery in all the categories of resins: industrial, architectural and special purpose, said Yasmin Sayed-Sweet, vice president of sales and marketing at Alberdingk Boley.
Striking a Balance
As the market continues to recover, balancing customer need with rising manufacturing costs is of prime importance for suppliers. Brad McPhee, vice president of sales and marketing at Specialty Polymer, said that his company continues to see demand for performance improvements and technical solutions to help customers “differentiate and achieve sustainable, profitable growth.”
“We’ve also seen an increase in new customers who are looking to diversify their supplier base and increase their exposure to innovation and better service options,” he said. “In order to meet customer needs, we continue to invest in our business to meet demand. In 2014, we added new talent to our R&D, Sales and Tech Service organizations and broke ground on a significant capacity expansion to our Chester, South Carolina plant.”
Shenton King, director of marketing at King Industries, said that cost performance and global regulatory compliance are key drivers for customers.
“Cost performance is of the utmost importance to our customers,” King said. “Creating multi-functional and cost effective products are always attractive to our customers. Customer requirements include compliance with global regulations, such as REACH in Europe, ENCS for Japan, IECSC for China, as well as newly adapted REACH compliance standards for Korea and Taiwan.”
Chris Petrangeli, Americas sales manager at Sartomer Americas, said that customers have been looking to capitalize on falling oil prices, particularly in the first quarter of 2015. “Many innovative markets continue to push for property and performance enhancements as they seek product differentiation and improvements. Soft touch/ feel, fingerprint resistance, low dielectric and other properties continue to have high interest and demand,” he said.
Reichhold’s Fuell said, “Although there are cost increases associated with the actual resin manufacturing process, the primary driver for rising cost lies within the raw materials needed to produce environmentally friendly yet high-performance resins. This is more evident in certain types of chemistries which is why Reichhold strives to offer customers a breadth of resin technologies to meet both their performance and cost requirements.”
Stanley, of DIC International, said, “Customers see resins as the component in a formation that is likely to determine the functionality of a coating. Therefore, resins are considered the first place to look for innovation and we invest resources in bringing new functionality to customers. In turn, this enables both parties to stay competitive.
“It’s difficult to hold a lowest cost position and to constantly innovate. We tend to focus our attention on projects that are driven by innovation and specifically tailored to the end user’s needs,” he concluded.
Resins suppliers are being pushed towards increased functionality and high-performance products, according to Hiel at Arkema. “In architectural coatings, customers are seeking better washability and dirt pickup resistance. In industrial applications, there continues to be strong interest in improved corrosion resistance. Arkema has an extremely broad ‘toolbox’ of chemistries, which allows us to offer the optimal solution for that customer’s needs- giving them the best balance of performance and value. We in turn work very closely with our suppliers to provide us with new, cost-effective raw materials,” he said.
Alberdingk Boley’s Sayed-Sweet said that plunging oil prices and lower feedstock prices are causing customers to demand lower resin prices, as well as resins with near-zero VOC.
“To address these demands we continue to innovate with emulsions and polyurethane dispersions to address these demands. Lower cost is still the primary driver,” she said.
Stricter environmental regulations have led to the need for increasingly lower VOCs, and resins suppliers have responded by providing the market with “green” technologies.
King, of King Industries, said that his company strives to be on the forefront of resin technology where VOC compliant coatings in both U.S. and EU markets are concerned.
“Our new lower viscosity K-FLEX XM-332 and XM-366 specialty diol resin modifiers for solventless and high solids applications are offered at 100 percent active, and are highly effective at improving hardness while maintaining good flexibility. They provide the formulator with additional tools to formulate low VOC and ultra-high solids coatings,” he said.
“For our customers who are formulating waterborne coatings, their performance needs are typically very demanding. We continue to develop new diols designed specifically for water based applications. K-FLEX UD350W and K-FLEX XM-386 are both soluble in water without a neutralizing amine, co-solvent, or a surfactant, and impart hardness and chemical resistance.
“Our K-FLEX polyester diols are extremely effective at compatibilizing other resins, which are not soluble in certain solvents (including exempt solvents), or with other incompatible resins where the need for compatiblization directly effects VOC compliance,” King concluded.
Sayed-Sweet of Alberdingk Boley said that the company incorporates renewable castor and linseed oil into its PUDs, as well design solvent-free PUDs with low cosolvent demands. “Whereas in the emulsions category, we continue to innovate and design multiphase and self-cross linking technology platforms for hydrophobic, fast drying and stain resistances,” Sayed-Sweet said.
DIC International’s Stanley said that light-weighting in the automotive sector is one of the most “satisfying” areas the company is working in. “Polymers and composites are replacing metal in automotive construction. In turn, we will drive down fuel consumption with lighter and more aerodynamic vehicle designs,” he said.
Arkema has developed a line of products under the EnVia trade name that are suitable for use in formulations for sustainable paints, coatings, adhesives, sealants and construction products. According to Hiel, each EnVia product must pass a rigorous certification program in order to meet the following requirements:
• Have no added alkyl phenol ethoxylate (APEO) surfactants
• Have no added formaldehyde or formaldehyde donors
• Have total latex VOC < 5 g/L
• Are below regulatory reporting limits for carcinogens, reproductive toxins and ozone depleting compounds
• Have Low residual monomer levels - Total Monomer < 500 ppm
• Minimize use of hazardous substances
- Green Seal hazardous components < 0.01% by per component
- California Prop 65 substances are minimized and documented with data available upon request
- Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPS) < 0.1%
- No known added phthalates, triphenyl or tributyl tins, 1,2 – dichlorobenzene
Petrangeli, of Sartomer, said that he feels VOC reduction has, in fact, lessened in priority across most segments that have traditionally held that concern.
“Sartomer continues to have the largest offering for VOC reduction for those markets seeking to enhance the properties of their high VOC formulas or reduce VOCs as a strategy,” he said. “Environmentally friendly, sustainable products continue to be of interest, but have not begun to drive the market activities. Sartomer continues to offer and develop additional offerings to compliment the SARBIO line of products that contain sustainable raw materials.”
“Beyond our ongoing effort to custom build high performance, low VOC emulsions,” said McPhee of Specialty Polymers, “we have seen a growing interest from customers that rely on solvent-based technology to help them build a green product line. Specialty Polymers is also proud of our continued effort to build high performance, low VOC emulsions. We are also involved in several non-conventional coatings markets were the sole purpose of our technology is to provide green solutions.”
Scott Cooley, coatings technology director at Reichhold, said that the company’s fastest-growing product line in the North American coatings market is BECKOSOL AQ, which he attributes to its “low VOC profile, the renewable raw materials used to make each unique polymer and exceptional performance in formulated paints – all while being competitively priced.”
“Additionally, Reichhold sells water-based epoxy esters under the EPOTUF trademark and water-based oil modified urethanes under the UROTUF F trademark,” he said.
Resins suppliers are continually introducing new and improved technologies to the market. What follows is a list of the most recent product introductions by leading suppliers (in alphabetical order):
• PUR Matte products 970: Aliphatic inherent matt and hard PUD with high optical transparency and “paper feel” for plastic, wood and other substrates.
• AC 3660: Self-cross linking multiphase acrylic emulsion with good chemical resistant and highly transparent with superior clarity on various dark substrates
Arkema Coating Resins
• ENCOR 662 acrylic latex delivers outstanding stain-blocking and washability performance in low VOC interior architectural coatings. ENCOR 662 meets the standards of Arkema Coating Resins’ EnVia program and is designed to assist formulators in meeting their sustainability and regulatory goals in their finished products.
• ENCOR 496 is designed for use as a binder in air-moisture barriers and dirt resistance finish coats. Due to its cement compatibility it can also be used as a cement modifier in adhesive/base coats with good high-temperature pot life. It is an excellent choice for use in moisture draining, exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) due to its excellent resistance to bulk water intrusion while allowing the passage of water vapor. ENCOR 496 also offers distinct early grab or “green strength”, which allows expanded polystyrene adhered with an adhesive coat based on ENCOR 496 to be rasped in a few hours.
• CERANATE, polysilioxane dispersion, provides exceptional weathering and self-cleaning properties to waterbased coatings. EPICLON epoxy resins have Tgs in excess of 300 °C and this enables chemists to use our epoxy resins in applications which require exposure to extreme heat. These two technologies allow formulators and engineers to revolutionize their craft and our customers to bring innovation to their markets.
• K-FLEX XM-366 is a low viscosity, 100% active, saturated, aliphatic polyester diol with primary hydroxyl groups. This product was designed for use as a resin modifier of acrylic/isocyanate and acrylic/melamine systems to increase flexibility and decrease VOC.
- 100% active
- Low viscosity
- Excellent compatibility and solubility
- Hardness with flexibility
- Light color
• K-FLEX UD-350W is an aqueous solution of an aliphatic, low molecular weight urethane diol oligomer. It is recommended as a modifier for amino crosslinked water soluble and emulsified acrylic, alkyd, urethane and polyester resins. K-FLEX UD-350W can be used as a reactive cosolvent replacement to increase solids, crosslink density, improve film/resistance properties and flow/leveling.
- Allows cosolvent reduction (lower-VOC)
- Water soluble without using amine and cosolvent
- Reduced Popping
- Increased hardness
- Good chemical/stain resistance
- Improved flow/leveling (higher gloss)
- Good hydrolytic stability
- Excellent QUV resistance and exterior durability
• EPOTUF 38-698 is a modified 1K epoxy ester dispersion supplied in water. It is designed for non-pigmented concrete bonding primers to increase adhesion between the concrete and topcoat. Tie coats made with EPOTUF 38-698 dramatically improve the cohesive strength between concrete surfaces and topcoats to maintain the integrity of the coating system.
• UROTUF F100-W-36 is a solvent-free water-borne oil modified urethane with a certified biobased content of 52%. It carries the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) voluntary Certified Biobased Product label through its BioPreferred program. UROTUF F100-W-36 is used in 1K highly durable clear finishes for wood surfaces, including performance driven flooring applications.
• Fluorosil OH C7-F and Fluorosil ACR C7-F are non-PFOS based perfluoroalkyl silicones designed to give some of the properties of fluorocarbons with minimal fluoroalkyl content. Based on C4F9 chemistry which avoids the PFOS intermediates, the Fluorosil products also take advantage of a synergy with the silicone to provide release and COF properties with minimal fluoroalkyl content. The products are hydroxyl and acrylate functional respectively to react into condensation or UV cured resin systems.
• RayKote 7100 is a self-crosslinking styrene acrylic emulsion polymer designed for primers or to provide excellent early adhesion and gloss to various metal substrates. Coatings formulated with RayKote 7100 exhibit outstanding corrosion and early water resistance for direct-to-metal and primer applications. RayKote 7100 is compatible with different types of corrosion inhibiting pigments.