“Despite a global recession and sky rocketing raw material prices, the market for high-performance pigments (HPPs) continues to grow, particularly in emerging markets like China and India,” the report stated. “Increased demand for differentiation and appearance in the packaging sector is driving growth, and emerging print processes such as inkjet are also having a positive impact on this market.”
A Growing Market
Regionally there is a significant difference in outlook and performance for high performance pigments. “China’s growth rate has slowed, but it still is growing,” said Michael T. Venturini, global marketing manager, Coatings, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments. “We see the implementation of VOC regulations driving changes in paint technology and subsequent modifications in pigments. Brazil’s economy has softened and has affected all segments of the coatings market. It may be some time before we see Brazil’s markets return to growth. Europe’s automotive sector is showing modest signs of recovery, but the overall market remains very fluid because of currency shifts. The U.S., however, is performing better than other regions as a result of improved home sales and automotive sales. The automotive sector is a particular bright spot because of the trend toward trucks and SUV’s and the increased popularity of chromatic colors.”
William L. Baker, vice president of North American Operations – Industrial at Sudarshan, said that the market has shown continued demand and growth in both specialty organic pigments and special effect pigments.
“This, of course, is region-dependent, and the currency challenges have taken a toll over the past year,” he said. “In particular, dollar based production is more adversely affected than Euro based production, thereby making manufacturers in Europe at a recent advantage.”
Baker said that China is a focus for Sudarshan because of its growth potential.
“China is a large opportunity for Sudarshan, as we have a relatively small market share in a country with strong growth and potential,” he said. “With our existing channels to market, we are finding this region to have particularly strong growth for Sudarshan.”
Falko Orlowski, executive vice president sales & marketing at Trust Chem, said that, in general, the U.S. pigment market is relatively stable and shows small growth.
“Most customers work on raw material cost reduction programs, and that is where pigment manufacturers can find opportunities. On the high performance side, Trust Chem has seen growth with new products such as PR202, PV19, PBr25, PY185 and PY155,” Orlowski said.
In terms of its focus on emerging markets, Trust Chem has a global sales network that is headquartered in Hangzhou, China. “We are greatly imbedded into the Chinese market with four production facilities there,” he said.
Orlowski added, “The U.S. automotive market is still one of the largest users for high performance pigments. With the largest independent pigment lab in China equipped with an automated spray booth, Trust Chem is increasing focus in this area.”
“Our sales grow with double digit increases year over year due to our success at bringing customers high performance pigments at fair prices,” said Frank Lavieri, executive vice president and general manager at Lansco Colors. “Lansco Colors was the leader in bringing alternatives to previously patent protected products and has grown to a market leading supplier for high performance pigments. 20 years ago Clariant, Ciba and BASF enjoyed patent protected monopolies for high performance pigments which are now gone. Not coincidently all of these company names either are already out of the pigment business or have announced they will jettison their pigment businesses by 2016.”
Increased Costs, Increased Performance
According to Baker, raw material prices are heavily dependent on Chinese sources, which have a relation to the U.S. dollar.
“This has put a significant squeeze on margins for dollar-based producers,” he said. “While we are mitigating some of the cost increases with long term RM contracts and purchasing strategies, the industry is feeling the effects of this squeeze.”
In spite of the high prices, Baker maintained that the investment in high performance and specialty pigments is a smart one.
“High performance, as the name implies, means they perform better in processing and/or application with heat, light fastness, chemical resistance, etc.,” he said. “The significant change in the market place is that the higher performance products are coming down in price, and as a result are expanding their share of the pigment portfolio as they displace some mid and classical performance products.”
Orlowski agreed that costs associated with high performance pigments are worth it when considering the advanced properties offered. “Light and weather fastness, opacity and heat stability, which are often vital depending on the customer’s end application,” he said.
Moving forward, Baker said that high performance pigments will continue to encroach on the mid- and classical-market prices. “As they do,” he said, “there is an inevitable displacement of those inferior chemistries to some degree. Therefore, HPP’s are finding inroads to non-traditional markets such as architectural coatings, industrial coatings, plastics, and even some inks markets.”
The pigment market is highly competitive and Lansco Colors said it is controlling costs while continuing to maintain the high product quality and on-time-delivery our customer expect.
“High performance pigments are necessary in applications and end uses which require better durability, heat stability, migration resistance or other attributes not found in the lowest cost pigments,” said Lavieri. “High performance pigments also bring attributes to a coating, plastic or ink which saves money. For example repainting a house each year is more expensive than using paint made with the Lansco Colors high performance pigments with longer light and weatherfastness. As another example most plastic parts, especially the food packages found in your grocery store, could not be colored with conventional pigments due the high temperatures used in plastics manufacturing. Finally high performance pigments are alternatives to more regulated conventional pigments so they are replacing them in sensitive end uses as well.”
New Products and Technologies
Trust Chem has recently launched following new high performance pigments: PR202 and PV19 for automotive, industrial coatings and plastic applications. PBr25 for automotive and plastic applications has been introduced as well as PO67 and PY185 for powder coatings applications.
“We are continuing to develop new products in our research and development laboratories in China to serve the global pigment market,” Orlowski said.
Baker, of Sudarshan, said that the industry has not seen a new chromophore since the introduction of DPP chemistry in the early 1990’s.
“However, Sudarshan continues to develop improved processing functionality of many of its core HPP range, including: PR264 for Coatings, PO64 for Plastics, PY110 for Coatings, PV23 for Plastics, etc.
Lansco Colors has brought several new high performance pigments to market recently. “We are particularly excited about Lansco 2093 Disazo Yellow 93 and 1242 Disazo Scarlet 242,” said Lavieri. “Both of these pigments are alternatives to former protected monopolies. Lansco 2093 is a green shade transparent yellow with excellent durability properties ideally suited for the coloration of synthetic carpet fibers and other applications requiring long term durability. Lansco 1242 has similar properties in the yellow shade red color space. We also have recently launched a high performance inorganic pigment, LANOX Synthetic High Temperature Black Iron Oxide, which has heat stability of 1300 oF and high color strength. We are promoting this pigment for automotive and gas grill coating applications.”
Lavieri also said he sees potential growth for high performance pigments to replace conventional pigments to meet environmental regulations. “An often overlooked, but important attribute of high performance pigments is there eco-friendliness,” Lavieri said. “This positions them well to replace conventional pigments as regulatory requirements or customer demands require this. Just as diarylide yellow pigments replaced lead chromate in the printing industry 40 years ago so could Lansco 2574 Hansa Yellow 74 or Lansco 2155 Azo Yellow 155 replace diarylide piments in printing inks some time in the future. In fact this is already starting to happen in the most sensitive applications and where brand owners demand it. This trend of using more eco-friendly raw materials, represents the greatest potential for high performance pigments.”
Sun Chemical has launched a number of new products. Fanchon Orange 36 high performance pigments for coating and ink applications have a high level of opacity and durability capable of replacing lead-based pigments in industrial mono-coat applications.
Sun Chemical’s new yellow shade Perrindo Maroon 179 features the benchmark transparency that is vital to producing modern, high chromatic metallic red finishes, the company stated. One of the most yellow pigment red 179 shades on the market, Perrindo Maroon 179 offers excellent light and weather fastness, rigorous process and quality control, compatibility in water- and solvent-borne systems, and is easy to disperse. The intense color of Sun Chemical’s red shade Quindo Violet 55 is 10 units more chromatic than a similar shade Pigment Violet 19, thus expanding the styling color gamut for coatings formulators, the company stated.
Sun Chemical introduced new fine particle size aluminum flakes to its Benda-Lutz MAXAL EC range. The two new products offer a superior level of brightness that is unusual for their small size, while providing the same stain resistance offered by the line’s state-of-the-art EC encapsulation technology. Benda-Lutz MAXAL EC encapsulated pastes add enhanced gassing stability in waterborne paint and provide superior resistance to alkali and acid staining without impacting the optical properties of the base aluminum flake, for a wide variety of applications including the coating of automotive parts and accessories and outdoor architectural coatings in powder and liquid paints.