The market for special effect and high performance pigments (HPP) has been slowly showing signs of improvement in 2013, despite the troubled economy. However, the market is still not back to pre-recession levels and competition is tough.
“Due to continued although slow, growth in the economy, we continue to see a positive upswing in the high performance and special effect pigments market in 2013,” said Scott Heitzman, global product manager- high performance pigments, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments. “Global demand for dyes and pigments is estimated to grow annually at a four percent rate. The demand in the United States is stronger due to the rebound in the housing market and strong automotive sales.”
Li Wu, co-owner and technical director at Trust Chem, explained that although their sales of high performance pigment have increased in volume, pricing and margins have also decreased.
“Competition is intense and expected to continue to increase,” Wu said. “But China has made great progress in a wide range of high performance pigments, including pearl pigment.”
According to Bob Poemer, business unit leader, Heucotech, they have seen improvement, albeit very slight. Poemer said that although the market has shown signs of progress, there is still a long way to go before it reaches pre-recession levels.
“The overall gain is probably only in the one to two percent range,” Poemer said. “The construction industry has started to show some signs of life but still has a long way to go to reach 2006-2007 levels This is a market where HPP pigments are not used in any substantial quantity so there are opportunities for HPPs, particularly for high-end applications. The auto refinish market has been essentially flat. The auto OEM market has almost regained 2006-2007 levels, so continued growth in this are will be more along the lines of GDP.”
Maria Giannobile, marketing manager, Pigments & Colorants, Dispersions & Pigments Division, North America, BASF Corporation , said that despite challenges and unpredictability of HPPs, BASF has seen a slight improvement in overall demand in comparison to last year.
“Market demand continues to vacillate as it is inherently correlated with the global economy, and tied to critical segments such as automotive, housing and durable goods,” Giannobile said. “Overall, we remain cautiously optimistic regarding the business outlook as we continue to improve upon our position by utilizing our broad portfolio.”
China Continues to be a Major Consumer
China has emerged as a major consumer of high performance and special effects pigments, and is seen as one of the markets where per capital gross domestic product is expected to rapidly grow, according to Heitzman.
“Related to the GDP of the emerging markets of China, India and Eastern Europe will be the growth in the demand for high performance and effect pigments for the coatings of durable goods, buildings, and the automotive sector,” said Heitzman. “Sun Chemical and its parent company, DIC, have a strong manufacturing, technical support, sales and distribution presence in China and have the capability to supply pigments to global multi-national and local Chinese coatings customers.”
Poemer explained that in 2009, Heubach established Hangzhou Heubach Pigment Ltd., located in close proximity to Shanghai.
“This location has fully equipped laboratories for the coatings, ink and plastics industries to handle any technical service requirements that our customers may have,” he said. “This is in keeping with Heubach’s global philosophy of supporting our products with experienced technical and marketing.”
In 2012 BASF moved their global headquarters of their Dispersion and Pigments division to Hong Kong, in order to further participate in the dynamic growth of China as a major consumer.
Increase in Raw Material Prices and Advantages of HPP
Although the price of raw materials has increased, and continues to do so, Poemer said that so far this year Heubach has not seen an upward pressure on raw materials that they have seen in previous years.
Likewise, Wu said that Trust Chem did not see the increase in prices of raw material as the biggest challenge, but instead in how to deal with the unstable raw material price and supply, particularly in China.
“Due to the growing environment pressure from the Chinese government, many raw materials factories have shut down, which causes an unsteady raw material factories have shut down, which causes an unsteady raw material price,” Wu said.
To respond to this challenge, Trust Chem continues to backward integrate the production of intermediates and try to produce many of the key intermediates themselves.
Heitzman explained that the volatility of the market has made it difficult for Sun Chemical to insulate customers from the rise of raw materials costs. Sun Chemical continues to monitor the key raw material indexes and focus their manufacturing team on process and raw material productivity. They also use their global reach which provides the flexibility and stability to minimize impact on raw material increases.
New High Performance Pigments and Applications
High performance pigments have many advantages. Due to the added cost associated with them, these types of products must in turn offer users a wide variety of performance features.
“High performance pigments are broadly defined and can include improved performance in multiple areas versus conventional pigments,” Poemer said. “Some of these performance properties can include improved light fastness, chemical resistance, thermal stability and either excellent transparency or opacity depending on the application. Pricing differentials for HPP’s are smaller now than in the past which increases the overall potential for them to be used in demanding applications.”
Giannobile explained that the performance of a pigment is dependent on the application conditions and the end use requirements.
“The benefits of using high performance pigments include enhanced durability, color strength, opacity and higher hiding,” she said. “For special effect pigments, exceptional brilliance and ultra-high chroma enable the creation of novel designs and differentiation.”
Trust Chem has recently launched Yellow 155 and Azo condensation pigment for applications such as coatings, inks and plastic.
“As to the special grade, we launched the PY155 for package inks, plastics and series of low PAA grade for special package application. We now manufacture one of the most complete lines of Azo condensation pigments in the world,” said Wu.
Heubach released Monolite Red 301901 (PV19), which is a blueish red shade of QuinacridoneViolet pigment. It has superior lightfastness and durability for high-end industrial and automotive finishes. They also released Vynamon Red 312202 (PR122), which offers a clean blueish shade of red. It offers excellent fastness and outstanding heat stability. PR122 is used in high-grade paints, printing inks and plastics. Recently Heubach had this product FDA listed. Heucroyl, another recently launched line, is a line of liquid dispersions designed for use in a wide variety of non-aqueous industrial applications. The colorants can be used in Alykds, Acrylics, Apoxies, Polyesters, 1k/2k Polyurethanes, Urethanes, Lacquers, Chlorinated Rubber and many other industrial applications.
Sun Chemical has launched Benda-Lutz Metallic Effects, which are used for a variety of decorative and functional coatings applications.
“This latest addition to the Sun Chemical product portfolio consists of premium aluminum, bronze and zinc pigments in multiple product forms (powders, pastes, pellets or customized dispersions),” said Heitzman. “Produced with state-of-the-art manufacturing capability and over 100 years of metal pigment experience, Benda-Lutz Metallic Effects provide stylists with superior aesthetics as well as superior chemical resistance and corrosion protection with optimum processibility. For applications ranging from solvent and water-based liquid coatings or powder coatings to inks, Benda-Lutz Metallic Effects delivers the premium look and performance for the next coatings trend.”
BASF recently launched several new high performance and special effect pigments, including Glacier Crystal White effect pigments which has a bluish pearl appearance effect pigments with strong, vivid sparkle effect at all viewing angles. At higher illumination angles, it provides stronger sparkling intensity than competitive pigments as well as extremely high transparency; Glacier Silk White effect pigments which has a silky bluish pearl appearance effect pigments with narrow particle size distribution with maximized lightness flop, reduced graininess with extremely high transparency; Irgazin Cosmoray Orange L 2950 pigments, a novel, orange organic pigment based on DPP chemistry enabling a new spectrum of bright, intense stylings expanding the orange, copper and yellow-shade red color spaces; Lumina Royal Copper effect pigments, which are Mica-based copper effect pigments with the highest chromaticity and enhanced sparkle characteristics in the market with better color purity, brightness and luster compared to pigments of the same class; and Sicopal Yellow L 1130 pigments, which are designed to meet the needs of the decorative, industrial and automotive coatings market, a bismuth vanadate pigment offering high color strength, increased opacity and good durability.
Growth in the HPP Market
According to Trust Chem, there is tremendous potential for growth for high performance pigments in the electronics, plastics and package ink markets.
Heubach sees the architectural market continuing to grow and show promise.
“As previously mentioned, the architectural market is just starting to rebound,” Poemer said. “With the continued recovery of this industry and increased demands of customers on performance, the HPP pigments have the potential to show considerable growth over the next several years. The automotive OEM/Refinish and industrial coatings area will in all likelihood be growing with GDP.”
Likewise, SunChemical found that automotive and industrial coatings would remain the foundation for growth of HPP markets. Despite this, growing requirements for stability and functionality will position architectural and building materials for tremendous potential growth.
Giannobile agreed explaining that traditional markets such as the automotive and industrial sectors would continue to be primary consumers of HPP.
“However, we continue to see interior and exterior decorative applications as a high growth area for HPP as increased interest for materials with improved durability, opacity and weatherfastness properties are being sought by our customers in these markets,” she said. “Used in a wide range of end market applications from automobiles, house exteriors to electronics and many more, special effect pigments address demands for brand and product differentiation as the range of aesthetic color values continues to expand
“Further, we anticipate growth in demand for IR management pigments as rising energy costs and global warming concerns increase the need for solar management solutions within architectural and construction applications.”
Trust Chem has focused on developing low priced intermediates for HPP in order to have a significant cost reduction, we want to expand the application area of HPP and replace some classic pigment in various markets.
Heubach continues to look at the effects of Nano particles on performance for a variety of their products.
“We continue to look for products that will allow us to offer increased opportunities for our customers,” Poemer said. “These products would include inorganic products as well as a further expansion of our high performance organic pigment portfolio. We will introduce a zinc free anticorrosive with outstanding cost-performance ratio in the near future. This product will round out our existing range of zinc free products and will allow us to offer solutions for almost all kinds of applications.”