According to Transparency Market Research, which published Metallic Pigments Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013-2019, the rising popularity of unique printing output and wider acceptance of aluminum pigments is predicted to drive the global metallic pigments market in the future.
“The metallic pigments market is anticipated to record a strong growth in the future due to rise in demand for several varieties of colors,” according to the report. “Moreover, the eco-friendly products constitute a major segment of the metallic pigments market. The growing awareness regarding the use of products with low carbon footprints is expected to drive the demand for metallic pigments in the eco-friendly paints and coatings products. Furthermore, the use of metallic pigments in powder coatings is increasing at a rapid pace as it provides wider range of color products to the consumers. Though the share of metallic pigments in the powder coatings market is relatively low at present, it is predicted to rise significantly in the coming years. Regions such as North America, Asia and Latin America are predicted to be lucrative markets for metallic pigments in the future while the European market is expected to record sluggish growth in the coming years due to very slow recovery from the economic downturn.”
Conversely, the demand for metallic pigments of heavy metals including iron oxide, chromium and cadmium is projected to decline as the producers of paints and coatings are lowering the content of heavy metallic pigments due to strict environmental regulations.
The market analysis found that metallic inks constitute one of the most important market segments of metallic pigments.
The report states: “Metallic inks find use in a diverse range of industries such as consumer packaging, beverage containers, gift wraps, publication printing and tobacco packaging among others. Metallic inks are used to design attractive packaging materials that can evoke an interest in the minds of the consumers. The demand from traditional segments of the metallic inks market such as tobacco packaging, beverage cartons and gift wraps are expected to remain strong in the next few years. Apart from the conventional applications, the demand for metallic inks from applications such as publication printings, cosmetics packaging and specialty coated papers is anticipated to rise significantly in the coming years. The growth in the metallic inks market would subsequently result in the rise in demand for metallic pigments in the future.
The report adds that metallic pigments are used in powder coatings; some of the major applications of metallic powder coatings are architectural aluminum, office furniture, automotive components, and lawn and garden equipment.
“One of the main reasons for the growing use of powder coatings is their low impact on the environment as compared to other types of coatings,” the report continued. “Aluminum is the most popular metallic pigment used in the powder coatings with availability of wide variety of shades. Moreover, gold bronze pigments are available as pale gold, rich gold and rich pale. Furthermore, stainless steel pigments are used for exterior coating applications and pearlescent pigments are used for both interior as well as exterior applications. The advantages of metallic pigments such as high quality finish and availability of wide range of shades are predicted to drive the market for metallic pigments in the powder coatings segment.”
Market Expectations and Trends
Metallic pigment coatings suppliers have generally found an increased interest in this market, and have identified several key trends.
According to Beth C. Earnst, BASF’s manager of marketing communications for Dispersions & Pigments, North America, silver shades based on aluminum flakes still represent the major portion of the metallic pigment market.
“In 2015, BASF has seen demand for our colored aluminum effect pigments substantially exceed automotive and industrial pigment growth rates,” she said. “This is due to their ability to deliver brilliant metallic luster in very high chroma hues with excellent hiding. As a result, BASF will expanding production of our Paliocrom iron oxide coated aluminum effect pigments by over 20 percent in 2017 to support growth in trending red, orange and gold shades.
“Traditional silver aluminum stylings have given way toward high chroma metallic stylings in a range of hues. The ongoing trend towards waterborne basecoats has created specific interest in our passivated versions. Through continued expansion of shade availability we continue to push the color space limits with high chroma metallic. BASF’s use of superior materials and processes combined with proper application methods deliver the brightest shades with high impact flop behavior,” Earnst added.
Aaron Hollman, global product manager – effect pigments, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments, said that both decorative and functional metallic effects continue to be strategic markets for Sun Chemical.
“In the past few years, we have seen outstanding growth of our Benda-Lutz brand of metallic pigments and preparations for brilliant finishes and mirror-like chrome effects for both liquid and powder coatings,” Hollman said. “We have also seen increased demand in industrial coatings for improved performance characteristics like corrosion resistance, barrier effects and thermal durability. We are optimistic that this upward trend will continue in 2015 and beyond.”
Hollman added: “Many markets, most notably China, have developed new regulations designed to improve air quality and reduce VOC emissions. This has required paint producers to transition from solvent to waterborne or low-VOC formulations. The ever-growing importance of waterborne technology has created exciting innovation opportunities for metallic pigment manufacturers. Sun Chemical will continue to focus our research and development efforts on expanding our product offerings for sustainable coatings.”
Eckart Americas Corp. has seen positive development with its effect pigments in the coatings market in 2015 with North America and Asia showing the strongest growth; this growth is expected to continue into 2016.
Thomas Hughes, global key account manager at Eckart, said that the major trends his company sees impacting the metallic pigments market continue to be cost and environmental regulations.
“We align our development efforts with the market and our customer needs in order to provide increased value with our technical solution offerings,” he said. “There continues to be an increased demand for environmentally-friendly coatings and we support this with our technical leadership position with stabilized and encapsulated pigments for water based coatings systems and pigments for powder coatings.”
Thomas Schaller, president of Schlenk Metallic Pigments USA, said that he has seen the demand for metallic pigments increasing and is expecting a positive second half as well.
Karen Schneider, Schlenk’s application technology manager coatings, added that end users “expect their products to look distinctive and valuable. During the last several years, the trend toward liquid metal or chrome-mirror effects have amplified. Demands for metallic pigments offering improved optical and technical properties have increased, which is an area where we clearly put our focus on.”
Areas of Demand
The demand for metallic pigments can be found in several markets, though the suppliers contacted by Coatings World unanimously agreed that the automotive market is the largest in terms of demand.
Earnst, of BASF, said that while the automotive market remains the largest, it takes time for new pigments to be adopted based on longer automotive durability validation testing.
“Earlier adopters include 3D applications such as smart phones, motorcycles, and various industrial applications including appliances. High interest persists in liquid metal effect pigments like Metasheen. However, adoption of this class of pigments in mainstream applications has been limited due to substrate imperfection telegraphing, flake orientation challenges, and the necessity for multiple coating steps to achieve the optimum effect,” she said.
Sun Chemical’s Hollman said that the automotive segment is benefiting from strong vehicle sales in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and a modest sales increase in Europe.
“As a result, Sun Chemical has seen strong demand for Benda-Lutz SPLENDAL vacuum metallized pigments and new high performance stain resistant metallics for wheel coatings. SPLENDAL is also playing a significant role in creating premium automotive interior finishes in the luxury segments because of its high end look and excellent performance properties,” he said.
In addition to the automotive market, Eckart’s Hughes said that the electronics market has shown increased demand for metallic pigments. Despite silver metallic being on a decline over the last few years, Hughes said that the use of aluminum is starting to change that.
“We also see an increase in metallic pigments with specialized functional performance capabilities built into the chemistry of the surface treatment of the pigment,” he said.
Schaller, of Schlenk, said that his company has seen an increase in powder coatings as well. “New, extra-durable, coated aluminum pigments allow powder coatings users to meet industry standards for chemical and outdoor resistance that could not be met in the past,” Schaller said.
Raw Material Costs
Though raw material costs are a major concern for many markets, metallic pigments do not seem to be as affected by fluctuations.
Eckart’s Hughes said that his company has not been too impacted by the cost of raw materials as “they are not the main drivers of the high-end metallic pigments Eckart offers.”
Hollman, of Sun Chemical, noted that the first part of 2015 has seen dramatic changes in global currencies in relation to the U.S. dollar.
“In addition to raw material and process productivity, our global manufacturing team has invested in designing production processes with a high degree of flexibility. This flexibility allows us to utilize our global manufacturing footprint to consistently deliver quality, service and innovation in this highly volatile period,” he said.
Aluminum costs are an input factor, said Earnst of BASF, but the value added manufacturing costs required to produce a superior product is the primary driver.
“The ability to enter new color spaces with high chroma and opacity tends to create a compelling value in use for Paliocrom,” she said.
New Technologies and Products
In order to meet the needs of their customers, suppliers have come up with innovative technologies and products. Here is a sample of what customers can expect to see in the metallic pigments market:
BASF says it has continued to expand the available hue range obtainable with Paliocrom based on aluminum flakes. Additionally, the company has added two Paliocrom Brilliant pigments based on silver dollar aluminum flakes that offer enhanced brilliance, unique sparkling behavior and extreme saturation. Both types are available in passivated versions. Paliocrom Sparkling Red, a unique bluish red pigment, became available just a few months ago. Like other Paliocrom products, it is a highly chromatic effect pigment with metallic luster and high opacity. BASF has already seen quick adoption of it in both automotive and industrial stylings. The company is developing additional grades and expanding our production capacity to further support the market.
• Eckart Americas Corp.
Eckart Americas Corp. has introduced a very dark chromium based PVD pigment, which it calls “Liquid Black,” and Luxan B Fraction (B characterize the particle size), which has particle size distribution suitable for automotive basecoats.
Eckart’s chromium oxide based Metalure Liquid Black is described as a captivating midnight black shade in combination with a fascinating reflective effect. The pigment is designed to be a unique PVD product that stands out by its specific dark metallic appearance. Metalure Liquid Black has unique optical effects as well as extremely high chemical resistance withstanding any possible chemical testing. Metalure Liquid Black is chemically inert and free of any chrome VI compounds – thus, it is toxically safe.
Schlenk has recently introduced a new line of pigments, Powdal SDT’s for the powder coating industry. They are designed to offer outstanding weatherability, chemical resistance and color while giving excellent chargeability and compatibility in a high weathering polymer systems. The company also continues to expand its Decomet range of metallic pigments to offer solutions to customers that want to achieve these metallized or chrome-like effects.
Schlenk has recently launched its AluMotion line of non-leafing aluminum pigments specifically designed for the automotive OEM industry. In April of this year at the European Coatings Show, Schlenk introduced Multi-Flect Wave, a polychromatic pigment. The company has been working with many new technologies, both in its core product line and outside to meet the ever changing color needs of today’s market.
• Sun Chemical
Sun Chemical has made some recent developments associated with its Benda-Lutz Maxal EC product line. In addition to premium metallic brilliance and sparkle, the company says this range “has become synonymous with the highest level of chemical resistance for single coat, architectural powder coatings.” The line has recently been expanded to include finer particle sizes, which allows for smooth metallic finishes combined with the durability of Maxal EC.
In addition to two new fine particle size Maxal EC grades, Sun Chemical has introduced a new high performance stain resistant grade for industrial applications (Metallic HP 6814/78). It has found immediate application for automotive wheel coatings because of the stringent appearance and performance requirements of that application.