The benefits of various types of pigments including titanium dioxide, carbon black as well as numerous organic products, across different application areas, have outlined the industry trends. Consistent evolution and growth of the automotive sector have driven pigment consumption substantially over the years, with the need for high-performance coatings and plastic components.
According to the OICA, more than 95.6 million vehicles had been manufactured in 2018, which is indicative of the tremendous utilization of paints and coatings across the sector. Rapid urbanization, economic upliftment in developing nations along with a fast-growing world population has increased the demand for packaged food and consumer products.
This, in turn, has offered notable opportunities for pigment suppliers from printing ink application, as packaging requirements for food, beverages, electronics and other products grow ever year. It has been projected by Global Market Insights, Inc. that global pigments market size will exceed $20 billion by 2026.
The evident proliferation of the global pigments industry can be observed through the upsurge in investments and growth activities undertaken by leading market players like BASF, Clariant, Laxness, Merck, DIC Corp. and many others. In August 2019, it was confirmed that DIC Corp. was entering into a deal to acquire the global pigments business of BASF SE, to expand its portfolio catering to the cosmetics, display, automotive and other industries.
Projected impact of the automotive industry on global pigments demand
Automobile paints and coatings serve the purpose of not only delivering a superior aesthetic appearance but also protect components and underlying metal from harsh environmental conditions, to avoid corrosion and improve durability. A major factor bolstering the global pigments market outlook has been the higher demand for passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
In fact, considerable advancements in pigment production or investment in product R&D can be attributed to the booming automobile industry. This includes the development of organic or bio-based pigments to ensure improved performance and also to comply with tightening emission standards worldwide. For instance, Pigment Red 254 is among the most extensively deployed red pigment for vehicle exterior coatings.
Clariant had recently unveiled the first bio-based version of Pigment Red 254 and other pigments for transport and machinery applications, derived from renewable sources. Similar efforts are expected throughout the pigments industry which will transform the manufacturing of coatings for the automotive, construction and other applications as well, pushing towards an eco-friendlier approach.
Separately, Sun Chemical has also introduced the new Palomar Blue 15 248-4848 pigment made specifically for automobile OEM applications. Developed through its patented technology, the product is expected to help replace the retiring Blue 15:1 pigments.
Paints and coatings application segment is anticipated to account for a significant percentage of the global pigments market size by 2026, with the automobile sector contributing significantly towards the overall share. Growing adoption of electric vehicles and self-driving technology will further augment the development of suitable paint or coating ingredients.
Influence of EVs on the development of paints and coatings
Increased deployment of electric vehicles on the road has certainly led to technological changes across different industrial domains, while is also fueling changes in the plastic, chemicals and coating sectors. It is expected that automakers may look to distinguish between EVs and conventional IC engine cars through colors, including different interiors for upcoming autonomous vehicles.
As lighter components are used to lower the overall weight of cars, OEM coating operations are also being impacted, with manufacturers using multi-substrate vehicle bodies to enhance efficiency. In addition, mounting pressure to lower carbon footprints is predicted to induce the development of paints and coatings containing bio-based raw materials, further altering pigments market trends.
Last year, Clariant had displayed its range of low-halogen pigments for coloring high voltage components of full-electric as well as hybrid vehicles. Highlighting the massive potential for the pigments market from the EV sector, over the January-September 2019 timeframe, already more than 1.41 million EVs had been sold globally.
Self-driving cars to bring new challenges for the pigments industry
The global automotive sector is on the way to eliminate direct human intervention in driving through the development of fully-automated driving cars. Although not mainstream yet, the technology is poised to bring about numerous challenges for all the stakeholders involved in auto production, including the paints and coatings industry.
Exterior paints will be important for ensuring an autonomous car operates without any error, since the efficiency of cameras or sensor technology used to detect objects and other cars on the roads may be affected. LiDAR is being commonly deployed in self-driving vehicles to help them see their surroundings and enable the continuous gathering of data from detection systems necessary to run the cars.
Undoubtedly, suppliers will be eager to develop suitable paint and coating raw materials to meet the ever-changing demand trends from the automotive industry, reinforcing pigments market forecast over the coming years. BASF, for example, is focused on offering LiDAR-detectable coatings based on functional pigments to help automakers reduce the absorption of near-infrared (NIR) wavelength and improve the performance of the detection system.
Pigments demand to rise with the booming construction industry in Asia-Pacific
Reports indicated that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) construction sector was valued at nearly $1.5 trillion in 2017, with experts predicting the valuation to reach over $2 trillion by 2025. Higher disposable incomes in the region driven by rapid industrialization in countries like China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia have considerably boosted public, private and commercial infrastructure spending.
Suitable pigments are required to meet high-quality demand for the durability and appearance of construction materials. Both inorganic and organic pigments have been developed to complement and enhance the performance of materials like concrete. As residential construction across emerging economies speeds up, the APAC pigments market is expected to record momentous gains over the coming few years.