BASF has reported that it continued to see the pigments market grow in 2016. “However, each market has different needs and trends that drive this growth. Design and styling options are vital for our automotive coatings customers. Our industrial coatings customers look more at durability and weathering. Being able to respond to these different needs is key to continue to see growth in the coatings market,” said Lisa Gentile, manager, global communications and branding colors & effects at BASF.
“Overall we have seen a stronger performance in the plastics market than in coatings for pigments,” said Robert Poemer, business unit leader at Heucotech, Ltd. “The plastics market has started to regain volumes that were lost in some areas a couple of years ago. Relative to coatings, the growth that we had previously seen in the automotive (both OEM and refinish) as well as the industrial segment was basically flat for 2016. It should be noted that both areas of the automotive market have shown significant growth over the last several years. After years of stagnation, the decorative market seemed to pick up in 2016 particularly in the NAFTA region. It would appear that housing starts and the resale market are fueling the increase.”
Frank Lavieri, executive vice president and general manager at Lansco Colors noted his company had a record year in 2016. “It looks like a trend toward lighter shades in coatings reduced pigment consumption somewhat, but growth through capturing new business more than compensated for this. Our international business was strong because of greater market penetration, but the U.S. may be the only market which is truly expanding,” he opined.
The 2016 pigment market was relatively flat with growth in the first half offset in the second half as the result of global political uncertainty, according to Charles Hoover of Cathy Industries.
“The Asia Pacific region showed some modest growth in domestic demand, but export driven coatings remained soft.”
According to Stephan Spiegelhauer, head of Global Competence Center Paint and Coatings, Inorganic Pigments Business Unit, Lanxess, the global market for iron oxide pigments is growing continuously. “This development is mainly driven by the trend toward urbanization,” he noted. “The colorful and also functional design of urban environments is becoming an ever more important priority for town planners, architects and building developers. The robust state of the construction sector in Asia and North America is also contributing to this positive development. All the same, the rate of growth differs from region to region and according to the area of application.”
“Alongside weakened but sustained growth in Asia, we are seeing substantial gains in North America. Growth in industrial and architectural pigments is evenly spread, as far as we observe. In general, we are noticing a trend toward greater differentiation in our customers’ end products, leading to broader demands on pigments in terms of colors and properties,” said Spiegelhauer.
“The organic pigments market performance is basically in line with the development of the various coatings market segments plus additional effects like color trend and replacement of lead chromates mainly in emerging markets,” said Jens Reininger, head of strategic marketing, Clariant Plastics & Coatings.
Reininger continued, “Consumption of pigments in automotive OEM and industrial coatings strongly correlates to regional GDP growth rates. In decorative coatings, we expect an above-average pigments volume growth in emerging regions like China and India with currently still low consumption of paints in relation to the number of occupants, and respectively in comparison to traditional markets in Europe and North America. As discussed, replacement of lead chromates has an additional positive effect on organic pigments volume growth in these regions. In Europe we expect a low volume growth of paint and pigment consumption. A more or less constant value of the pigment market is the result of decreasing price developments besides overall volume increase.”
Emerging markets continue to offer the best opportunity for growth in the pigment market. “As in previous years we see the opportunity for growth in Asia and Eastern Europe,” said Poemer. “In previous years, Latin America has also provided opportunities but with the current economic situation in Brazil, the largest market in Latin America, the opportunities have been significantly reduced. There is a specific trend to high performing pigment solutions spreading from the mature markets also in the areas of Asia and Africa.”
Over the past decade, the pigments market has continued to become more competitive and challenging. “Our customers demand that we act quickly to respond to their needs,” Gentile noted. “And at the same time, we know we need to be bringing innovative products to the market and anticipating future trends. All of this requires close collaboration with our customers to ensure we’re making the right decisions together. We’ve also observed a growing demand for individual design, especially in automotive coatings. There is a strong need for differentiation and the right effect pigments can help our customers be successful in this area.”
Environmental issues are of paramount importance to pigment suppliers to the coatings the industry. “Compliance issues remain the major challenge for the whole chemical industry, including pigments,” said Hoover. “New tougher environmental standards in China have effected global commodity pricing on many items and will put pressure on prices in 2017. To compensate for raising raw material costs many companies are bringing processes, that have traditionally been outsourced, back in-house.”
One of the major influences for the pigments market is REACH legislation. “This legislation will obviously impact the situation in Europe but will also have an impact around the world due to the global market,” said Poemer. “The upcoming last step of REACH will be a challenge for smaller suppliers who may not have the necessary resources to provide compliant materials.
We are starting to see some shortages in raw materials and subsequently some increased pricing. The increasing raw material prices will also have an influence on pigment pricing and after nearly years of price reduction the trend will most likely go up.”
Union Colours has made sustainability a top priority. “We keep investing in the sustainability of our manufacturing, environmentally and for cost, we keep developing pigments which meet the regulatory requirements and we make sure that we will have a broad portfolio available to our customers also after May 2018 when the final stage of REACH comes into effect,” said Olilver Pfefferkorn, sales director at Union Colours. “REACH does not only effect Europe. Last but not least we are building a new production facility in South Africa which will be focusing on clean pigments for various applications.”
As with other industries, globalization trends are impacting pigments producers. “The leading paint and coating manufacturers have become increasingly international in their activities ever since the onset of market globalization,” said Spiegelhauer. “Consequently, pigment suppliers are now expected to grow worldwide along with them, and to make pigments of consistent quality available everywhere in the world. Lanxess benefits from a demand shift towards high-end and environmentally friendly products accessible globally in the same quality.”
According to Sun Chemical’s Venturini, opportunities for growth are available in all markets, including the mature markets of Europe and the U.S. “Pockets of regional growth opportunities can be found in areas driven by unique local market requirements.”
“Regionally we have seen strong growth in real estate investment and building construction in North America and Asia,” Venturini continued. “This trend has been driving both volume and innovation at Sun Chemical. We are especially seeing strong demand for our durable, stain resistant Benda-Lutz MAXAL EC aluminium flake for use in powder architectural coatings.
For decorative liquid and powder coatings, designers are seeking multilayer effects similar to those developed for the automotive industry. In 2016, Sun introduced SunMICA Deep Black Pearlescent pigment, which is well suited for powder coatings applications to create deep, rich and reflective charcoal effects. Technology innovations in both effect and high performance pigments continue to influence the automotive OEM coatings sector. “We are especially seeing unique applications of transparent, durable high performance pigments like our newest Perrindo Red 179 in tinted clearcoats and in combination with effect pigments for highly chromatic basecoat/clearcoat systems. Compact painting processes are simplifying the process of 3-layer topcoats and expanding their usage,” Venturini said.
Among BASFs’s latest pigments offerings is the new Lumina Royal Dragon Gold EH 0908, a highly chromatic green gold interference mica pigment that offers the highest lightness and strongest sparkle in styling for golds and greens. It extends the color space potential of high chroma shades for architectural, print packaging, plastics, consumer electronics, kitchen and major appliances, sporting goods, cosmetic and personal care packaging, wall coverings and other specialty applications.
BASF also recently launched two new quinacridone-based Cinquasia Magenta pigments targeted for the automotive, refinish and high-end industrial markets. Cinquasia Uniflow Magenta EH 4555 is a highly chromatic, transparent, blue side Pigment Red 202 with more than 20 percent higher tint strength than existing pigments, according to the company.
Cinquasia Uniflow Magenta EH 4505 is an even more highly chromatic, yellow side transparent magenta. These next generation pigments allow formulators to achieve highly saturated and chromatic red, violet and blue shades.
Heubach’s latest launch of products is a series of dry pigment preparations for lead replacement under the brand name HEUCOFITTM LR. “We have also launched HEUCODUR 2550, a medium shade high strength Chromium rutile.This will be complemented by the corresponding light and dark high strength Chromium Rutiles in 2017,” Poemer said.
In the Hoover Color division of Cathay Industries, 2016 saw the introduction of its “M” class EnvironOxides. “These are transparent iron oxides with dispersibility and costs similar to typical coatings grade synthetic iron oxides and are produced from a sustainable raw material,” said Hoover. “Our new “YD” technology produces a series of high chroma red iron oxides with improved performance characteristics. Additionally, our “LV” yellow iron oxides continue to provide our customers the best color and performance in the market.”
June of 2016 Clariant inaugurated its newest production plant for water-based pigment preparations or dispersions in Mexico. “The new plant located in Santa Clara, just outside of Mexico City, doubles Mexico’s annual production capacity for water-based pigment dispersions and enhances its ability to serve customers across North and Latin America,” said Brandon Devis, director of sales & marketing for North American Coatings, Clariant. “The new plant is an important next step to extend the value we can create for our customers based on our strong formulation and dispersing know-how for coatings applications. The strategic location in North America allows us to better tailor our offering to specific customer and application needs within the region. Clariant’s latest pigment launches are ED-Pigments, meeting the number one market requirement of cost reduction by generating energy savings and optimizing processes in paint production. In the field of pigment dispersions for industrial coatings, we introduced intermixable product ranges meeting opaque color trends in traditional applications (Host tint A 100) and highly transparent individualized styling shades in high-end applications (Host tint A 100-ST). In wood coatings we are focusing on sustainable pigment dispersions (Histamine for water based systems and Host tint UV for 100% UV systems) and on highly transparent Histamines offering high fastness properties of pigments versus dyes.”
As a result of the company’s innovative and sustainable “Ningbo process” it is now possible for Lanxess to manufacture a new generation of red iron oxide pigments with the highest chromaticity ever. “Thanks to the very flexible production process, we are able to not only cover the classic coloristic of traditional manufactured iron oxide reds, but also to achieve new color spaces not previously possible using any of the established methods,” said Spiegelhauer. “ It is thus possible to manufacture pigments having a stronger red color component than all commercially available pigments. Significantly higher color values on the red axis (a*) in the L*a*b* color space are achieved, and the same is true for the color development on the yellow axis (b*). Our “New Red” pigments of the proven Bayferrox range exhibit very good color stability during milling, even with the use of agitator mills.”
Cabot Corp. offers EMPEROR carbon black products, which balance color performance with dispersibility and formulation stability. “Our EMPEROR 2000 and EMPEROR 1800 specialty carbon blacks are designed for water-based automotive basecoats and deep black masstone applications,” said Abhinav Akhoury, global market segment manager at Cabot Corp. “EMPEROR 2000 carbon black is our highest color offering for water-based formulations, while EMPEROR 1800 carbon black combines very high jetness with transformational ease-of-use properties. Both products utilize our proprietary surface treatment technology that breaks the tradeoff between color performance and dispersibility. Our EMPEROR 1600 and EMPEROR 1200 premium carbon black pigments feature exceptional color performance and processability for solvent-based applications, and deliver deep black color with a blue undertone.”
Lansco Colors is launching a range of pigments for plastics which are characterized by a narrower particle size distribution. For the customer this translates into better formula reproducibility in production and for specific users in the film and fiber industries this has significant advantages in productivity and quality. Other new offerings are Lansco 2538 Opaque Quinophthalone Yellow 138, a green shade yellow with good light and weatherfastness. It is particularly valued in industrial coating applications, Lavieri noted. “Lansco 1667 Opaque Orange 67 is a very opaque, highly brilliant orange for coatings. It is used in both powder and liquid systems. Lansco 1319 Quinacridone Red Violet 19 is an opaque, yellow shade red Pigment Violet 19. It has among the best light and weatherfastness of pigments in this color space and finds use in industrial coatings and plastics.”