Globally, 2017 was a dynamic year marked by a number of events and changing situations. “The lead-up in the European Union for the REACH milestones has already begun to influence activities,” said Michael T. Venturini, marketing director, Coatings, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments. “Coatings producers are increasingly turning to companies like Sun Chemical, which has the resources and global supply chain to ensure it meets the regulatory requirements with uninterrupted supply of strategic pigments.”
“Due to market consolidation and natural disasters, 2017 was a challenging year for the iron oxide market in North America,” said Dr. Hans-Peter Baldus vice president - head of IPG AMERICAS, Inorganic Pigments Group, Lanxess. Specifically, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hampered market activity. However, our new facility in China, which is fully online now, creates tremendous potential for serious growth in global production and product lines in the coming years.”
“The organic pigments market continues to develop in line with the coatings market segments and strongly correlates to regional GDP growth rates,” said Brandon Devis, director of Sales & Marketing, Coatings North America at Clariant Corp. “Color trends over the past 2-3 years have had an impact on organic pigment usage in decorative and automotive coatings, however color trends are beginning to shift toward a more colorful pallet in these critical segments.”
“It is our understanding that things are softening in the fluorescent market overall, but we are having difficulty seeing that market decline in our own business,” said Darren Bianchi, president of Brilliant Color. “We see opportunities in every corner of the globe. Fear of raw material supply out of China has everyone concerned. The bulk of intermediates are coming from China and everyone seems to be working to develop contingency plans. We are continuously developing new, more environmentally-friendly pigment chemistries.”
Lansco Colors estimates that the pigment market as a whole grew slightly in 2017 as growth in coatings and plastics was muted by lower consumption in the ink industry, as more advertising and news continued to move to a digital format. “Our growth was greater than 10 percent and far in excess of the market due to greater sales of high performance and effect pigments,” said Frank Lavieri, EVP and general manager at Lansco Colors.
“Overall we are happy with 2017 demand,” said Charles E. Hoover, president of Hoover Color Division of Cathay Industries. “The year started out with a high level of uncertainty but as the year progressed those concerns faded and have been replaced by a level of guarded optimism.
One of the most surprising aspects of the current level of optimism is that it is fairly global.”
“The pigments market, along with the entire coatings industry, has again grown in 2017,” said Rose Qin, global business management, Pigments for Coatings at BASF. “However, we saw some differences according to application. For instance, with automotive coatings, effect pigments continue to develop faster than regular color pigments; in industrial coatings, the demand for premium durability and weathering resistance continues to be essential. Being able to respond to these unique customer needs is key for continuous growth within the coatings market.”
According to Robert Poemer, business unit leader at Heucotech, Ltd., overall significant increase of business performance in Q1 through Q3 this year has been seen. “Also the coatings market – automotive and industrial coatings – showed an upswing compared to 2016.
However, automotive has dropped for the second consecutive year in the NAFTA region. For the deco and architectural markets, a more or less flat performance was observed compared to previous year.”
Trends, Delivering Sustainable Solutions
Pigment suppliers must deliver exactly what the customer needs. High value performance attributes, cutting edge technology and sustainability are all high on their customers’ wish list.
“In a pigments market which continues to become more competitive and challenging, our customers demand that we act quickly and agile,” said Qin. “We aim to continue driving the market with game-changing innovations and shape future trends together with our customers. These innovations are not only of coloristic nature but also aim for other functionalities and of course, efficiency-in-use. One other topic that will influence the pigments market is the enhanced attention to sustainability.”
Qin noted that there are different aspects related to the sustainability topic. “We have seen more emphasis on waterborne paint systems, replacement of pigments based on lead chromates, heat management, and eco-label – among other trends. We actively support of customers in those regards with our portfolio and solutions. Another important sustainability topic for our customers and the entire downstream value chain is products based on natural mica. BASF Colors & Effects mica comes from our wholly owned mine in the United States. We also actively participate in the Responsible Mica Initiative.”
In the NAFTA region, consolidation has been happening at a very fast pace, not only with the sale of small regional players but acquisitions that affect global markets. “This will have a profound effect on the coatings market for many years as larger players with the resources to globalize technologies become more entrepreneurial with the integration of fast moving cultures,” said Venturini. “Separately, we are seeing corporate driven directives to replace heavy metal pigments. These directives are not government driven. Sun Chemical has added pigments to our portfolio to support the efforts, including: Fanchon Orange 67, an opaque and brilliant pyrazolo quinazoline orange pigment for powder, solvent and waterborne coatings; Sunbrite Red 168, an anthanthrone mid shade red having the best lightfastness of red organic pigments, useful for coil, architectural, farm and implement and Sunbrite Red 177, an aminoanthraquinone, having exceptional heat and lightfastness that has been quickly adopted for critical applications requiring those attributes.
“Lastly, REACH regulations will be a significant factor, especially for phthalo blue customers,” Venturini continued. “Sun Chemical has multiple regional manufacturing sites for Blue 15:1, 15:2, 15:3, and 15:4, and is well positioned to provide regulatory support needed for registration.”
“Environmentally sustainable manufacturing and the ripples throughout the pigment supply chains of processes that are not sustainable and being shutdown has had major customers scrambling to develop alternatives to their historic pigment selections,” said Hoover. “Cathay Industries has been focused on sustainable manufacturing for many years. We partner with our raw material suppliers to form sustainable supply chains and engineer our production processes to produce by-products that have value in other supply-chains”
According to Baldus, global pigments consumption is expected to see continual growth, however, the expectations of sustainable business practice hold a strong influence on consumers. “This also means that further consolidation of the iron oxide production capacity in China will continue with the closure of plants that have environmental issues. Due to the growing concern of environmental impact, the customers in today’s market are demanding both sustainable products and production processes.”
“The recently completed construction of a plant in Ningbo, China, which is designed to meet the latest environmental standards, underlines our commitment to better, sustainable solutions,” Baldus said. “This allows us to expand both the global production network and our product line, while creating a higher quality product with less environmental impact. For example, the new facility uses effective milling, which reduces the proportion of aggregates and agglomerates resulting in pigments that exhibit high quality color stability and an extraordinary resistance to heat.”
Lansco Colors noted a trend toward high performance pigments replacing lower performance pigments. “This is being driven by the availability of lower cost, high performance pigments while at the same time the costs for low performance pigments are rising. Cost is not the only factor driving this trend, higher performance pigments can also bring with them additional productivity improvements such as ease of dispersion and color strength,” said Lavieri.
“In China, tightening standards for air and water quality are reducing the output of both pigments and the raw materials used to make them. Because such a large proportion of organic pigments are produced in China this is having a broad-based impact on the industry as a whole right now. A possible result of this trend will be that in the future pigment production outside of China will increase in importance,” Lavieri noted.
Oliver Pfefferkorn, sales director at Union Colours said, “we have invested in new production volumes and effluent treatment to ensure we will not face temporary closures as happened to many other producers in the China and will keep doing so moving forward. We are also building a new production plant in South Africa to make clean pigments to comply with today’s and future regulatory driven needs in our customer base.”
“There is a clear trend towards sustainable, ecological and energy saving coating systems, which increases the demand for colorants and pigments to support this trend,” Devis said. “For Clariant as a raw material supplier for the coatings industry, sustainability is an integral part of our corporate strategy for the future. We strongly believe that sustainable products with an improved carbon-footprint like our bio- based quinacridones or products which generate significant energy savings in paint production like our Easily Dispersible (ED) pigments being part of our ECOTAIN label as alternatives compared to the standard products will be the preferred product option in future.
“Quinacridone pigments based on renewable raw materials are part of our commitment to sustainability and our commitment to future generations,” Devis continued. “As an example we promote our ‘Pink going Green’ as Clariant uses renewable raw materials to create bio-based high performance quinacridone pigments for automotive, industrial and decorative coatings applications. Hostaperm Pink E (Pigment Red 122), one of Clariant’s most important polycyclic pigments based on renewable bio-succinic acid, represents Clariant’s switch to renewable raw material without changes in the product quality and the guaranteed specification.”
“There are several facets that encompass sustainability, including renewable raw materials, new environmentally-friendly technologies and responsible manufacturing,” said Venturini. “Sun Chemical strives to meet the demands of customers for sustainable solutions by utilizing all three of these approaches. “On the technology side, in addition to our offerings to replace inorganic pigments, Sun Chemical has a family of organic pigments designed to have a smaller environmental footprint based on our “do-more-with-less” approach. The family includes Sunbrite Yellow 74, Fastogen Violet 23 and Quindo Red 122. These products are primarily designed for deco coatings, but also find usage in a wide array of industrial coatings. Their environmental benefit comes from their higher tint strength, allowing formulators to reduce their usage. Reducing consumption is one of the most effective ways to improve all environmental aspects from CO2 output and raw material usage to energy reduction, packaging, and shipping.”
“Coatings customers are not only seeking ways to improve the sustainability of their own products and manufacturing, but are also looking to suppliers that do the same, “ Venturini added. “Sun Chemical carefully tracks and publicly report our advancements in sustainability to assist customers in making informed decisions. We have had a number of successful programs that include biogas-to-steam generation for our Yellow 74 production, on-site hydro-electric mills to offset our power requirements needed to produce metallic pigments, and installation of solar-electric panels and other programs by our parent company, DIC that have offset more than 38,000 tons of CO2.”
One of the major challenges for pigments is the availability and pricing of raw materials. “This starts from the global availability and pricing of TiO2,” said Poemer. “There are also significant price increases for other metals like Cobalt, Zinc and Copper where very significant amounts are being dedicated for electric vehicles. The final step for REACH in June 2018 for low volume products will be a challenge for smaller suppliers. These suppliers may not have the necessary resources to conduct the REACH application which could potentially impact the supply situation on certain pigments in the global network.”
Among Sun’s latest offerings is Perrindo Maroon 179: one of the most yellow pigment red 179 shades on the market, Perrindo Maroon 229-8834 features the benchmark transparency that is vital to producing modern, high chromatic metallic red finishes and offers excellent light and weather fastness, rigorous process and quality control, compatibility in water and solventborne systems, and is easy to disperse.
Indofast Violet 23, Sun Chemical’s 235-LBP2 is a versatile pigment for general purpose use across a wide range of coating technologies for industrial and architectural end uses that features high strength, easy dispersability and improved opacity compared to other offerings.
According to Baldus, customers seek consistent, high-quality products with little environmental impact from Lanxess’ sustainable production facilities. They also demand efficient, reliable and on-time deliveries of it products.
“At LANXESS, we have improved our wide product portfolio with the addition of the Bayferrox NEW RED 500 series pigment range,” Baldus said. “The Bayferrox 500 series offers a variety of red grades with very tight color specifications and exceptional product features. Extensive testing has confirmed that the New Red pigments meet the high standards of the Bayferrox brand: high chromaticity and tinting strength; optimized milling parameters for easy dispersibility even at low shear energy input; potential to formulate at high loadings with optimized viscosity performance; easy adoption of surface agents to ensure low sedimentation tendency and optimized long term stability in final systems; good optical appearance with respect to gloss and haze and excellent compatibility with formulation ingredients like fillers, extenders and resin binders.
Coatings manufacturers are focused on delivering highly durable, sustainable, functional and cost-effective solutions. “Our R&D group work is focused on innovative products that fit current coatings trends that improve upon current performance standards to meet tomorrow’s demands,” said Devis. “We are currently working on techniques to improve the performance properties of pigments, such as durability, color strength or chroma, in an effort to increase the range of application possibilities for existing products.”
Clariant began production for water-based pigment preparations at the new Santa Clara (Mexico) site in Q2 2016. To complement this capacity increase, in the first quarter of 2017 Clariant inaugurated the newest production plant for solvent-based pigment preparations (dispersion) at the same site. The new plant more than doubles Mexico’s annual production capacity for solvent-based pigment dispersions and enhances its ability to serve customers across North and Latin America.
“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,” said Devis. “The strategic location in North America allows us to better tailor our offering to specific customer and application needs within the region. In the field of pigment dispersions for Industrial Coatings, we introduced intermixable product ranges meeting opaque color trends in traditional applications (Hostatint A 100) and highly-transparent individualized styling shades in high-end applications (Hostatint A 100-ST). In wood coatings we are focusing on sustainable pigment dispersions (Hostafines for water-based systems and Hostatint UV for 100% UV-systems) and on highly- transparent Hostafines offering high fastness properties of pigments versus dyes.”
According to Pfefferkorn, customers are looking for the best price/performance ratio based on the standards they are using. “R&D is focusing on making the pigments cleaner whilst not changing the attributes of the pigments and their performance in application. At the same time all raw materials need to be REACH ready.”
Union Colours’ latest offering include, Sinfast Red 3210-D84, a multi-functional C.I. Pigment Red 210 which performs well against the main equivalent on the market in solvent based flexo and gravure inks, water based inks, textile pastes, litho inks and plastics; Sincol Yellow 1136-G85, a new very versatile opaque C.I. Pigment Yellow 74 which works in many types of coatings formulations and Sinfast Red 3128-E12, a universal grade C.I. Pigment Red 170 with high performance in water based inks, industrial and decorative coatings, textiles, fibreglass, paper laminates.
Poemer echoed the sentiment that customers are looking for a well-balanced price/performance ratio. “As an example, our lead replacement options we can offer economic products as well as high performing solutions. Requirements regarding specific “regulatory affairs” is constantly increasing. We are looking to increase the tinting strength, alkaline resistance and temperature stability of our Bismuth Vanadate products. Our production process for Chrome Titanate pigments is now very flexible enabling us to produce custom products for the market. Heubach is working on a highly innovative pigment preparation technology for a broad range of plastic applications. We continue our R&D efforts for anticorrosive pigments to develop “label-free” products.”
Heubach has recently launched two new grades of PY74 (one opaque and one transparent version) from its production facilities in Heubach India. In addition, a new FDA compliant PB15:3 has been introduced into the market.
“For the EMEA market, universal colorant lines are based on a cutting-edge, highly flexible production technology,“ said Poemer. “A standard set of highly concentrated specially designed base colorants is used to yield individual colorants which can be mixed according to the customer’s requirements. The concept can be enlarged by adding colorants which will ensure that the future needs and requirements of the market are met. After the successful implementation of HeucoFit LR (dry pigment preparation for lead chrome replacement for coatings) the concept will be expanded with additional corresponding pigment preparations suitable for plastics applications.”
This year Lansco Colors added to its line both Red and Yellow transparent iron oxides.
“Coatings manufacturers have been looking for a reliable, low cost source of these products and we are now able to satisfy these needs through our extensive sales network,” said Lavieri.
To the plastics industry we launched LANSCO 1454-LW, a DPP Red with a low influence of warpage. This technically sophisticated product increases the through put of injection molded polyolefin parts, such as bottle caps, and saves money for the molder.”
“Finally, we introduced LANSCO 2095, a high performance, mid-shade Pigment Yellow 95 which is very strong coloristically and has exceptional lightfastness and migration resistance,” said Lavieri. “This is the sister pigment to LANSCO 2093 which is also made using azo condensation chemistry first brought to the market by Ciba, and a long time monopoly of theirs. With the addition of 2095 to our line we now offer all of the important azo condensation pigments.”
According to Hoover, high chroma and ease of dispersion are always on customers “wish-list.”
“But that is balanced more and more by a corporate desire to have interchangeable raw material sources. At Cathay we have been focusing on two key technologies. First we are pushing the limits on the Chroma that you can produce with an Iron Oxide. Second we are looking for better ways to improve the heat stability of our pigments for our customers who’s products go into high heat applications. Cathay Industries has recently introduced a line of high chroma red iron oxides. These products use a unique technology to move the A* and B* values of these reds over historic manufacturing techniques.
BASF has a number of new pigment offerings. The latest addition in the Paliocrom portfolio, Brilliant Red L3258, allows highly brilliant orange to red metallic effect shades to be obtained. The colored aluminum effect pigments are ideal for modern automotive stylings and are also used in high performance industrial coatings. They maintain a great appearance in thin film applications, while providing excellent hiding and extreme saturation.
Xfast Easy Color, which was introduced at the European Coatings Show (ECS) 2017, is the first dry color pigment preparation for the POS markets. These pigment preparations significantly simplify colorant dispensing systems by enabling clean and easy handling with brilliant shades and better cost-in-use. The dry stir-in pigment preparation has been developed for a wide array of applications, including exterior and interior architectural paints, artist paints, or wood glazes and coatings.
Additionally, at ECS, BASF Colors & Effects announced a partnership with Landa Labs for a new generation of ultra-high transparency pigments for the automotive coatings industry that are easy to disperse. We expect that this development can significantly reduce the dispersion efforts in the production of automotive coatings, while offering superior coloristics. Expect to see the first developments hit the market in 2018.