Colours: hues & shades take shiny turn

Colours: hues & shades take a shiny turn

11:08 AM, 23rd December 2016
Colours: hues & shades take a shiny turn
Specialty pigments like classic organic, metallic, fluorescent, phosphorescent and luminescent, with its improved performance and visual effects have also shown a steady growth. © BASF

All around us we see cars with glossier metallic finish; wall paints which are also weather durable; and regular plastic chairs which dorn a regal look and feel.

Colours are no longer just hues or shades but there is more to it. High performance pigments, stand true to its name and is delivering the extra ‘performance’ for the industry with every brush stroke.

By Debarati Das

Colours are an integral part of life and have indisputably become an important factor in every industry to appeal to its buyers. Not just the hues, but today colours also need to qualify various other criteria such as texture, longevity, resistance to heat and light etc to be in sync with the changing market demand. While the pigments industry is catching up to these requirements, high performance pigments (HPP) is garnering special attention from various industries due to its striking characteristics. 

The hunt for newer, trendier shades and textures on walls, automobiles and clothes has made the pigments industry shake up and scale new heights.

The global demand for pigments amounts to almost 9.7 million tonnes, as analyzed by Ceresana, the market research company. The global pigments market is anticipated to reach $31.98 billion by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of 3.8 percent between 2015 and 2023, as per a recent report by Transparency Market Research.

The global pigments market is dominated by Asia Pacific, which alone accounted for more than 40 percent volume share in 2014. Rising demand from major end-user segments especially the automotive industry along with increasing construction activities in countries such as China, India, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia has further fueled the demand for pigments. As per reports, China will be the major consumer of pigments by 2023 while Middle East & Africa and Latin America are the anticipated potential markets for pigments in the near future.

Pigments have become an important part of various industries including paints and varnishes, plastics, construction material, glass and ceramics, printing inks, paper, textiles, cosmetics and various others. While inorganic pigments, like titanium dioxide, iron oxide, carbon black and chromium, compounds dominate the industry; the demand for safe and environment friendly colours are raising the popularity of organic pigments as well.

Speciality pigments like classic organic, metallic, fluorescent, phosphorescent and luminescent, with its improved performance and visual effects have also shown a steady growth. This segment is also projected to be the fastest-growing product segment due to increasing consumer preference for high-performance pigments with attractive aesthetic features. Increased consumption of metallic pigments in decorative paints and coatings is likely to fuel demand for speciality pigments in the next few years. The rising awareness and use of nanoparticles are also expected to create lucrative opportunities in the global pigments market.

Growing demand

The industry’s interest on HPP has risen due to its superior properties when compared to its conventional counterparts. These pigments have high resistance to heat, light & weather, enhanced fastness, chemical resistance and longer operational life giving them an edge over other pigments and broadening their usage and applications across multiple industries. Coatings, plastics, cosmetics and inks are some of the key applications where HPP market has seen significant growth.

While coatings accounted for over half of the global demand in 2014, automotive coating dominated in this segment. HPP is widely being preferred for automotive coatings, which has further witnessed a boost due to the exponential growth in automotive sales that has increased the demand for superior and high-quality automotive coatings. The increasing customer needs and demands for high-end automobiles are playing a key role in positively shaping HPP’s market growth.

Plastic is anticipated to witness a strong growth in the near future while the global personal care industry also holds opportunities for the HPP market to grow. However, applications such as inks will witness a sluggish growth due to rapid digitisation across the globe but developments in the ink jet printing technology are expected to strengthen the HPP demand in the ink industry. Rising stringency in food regulations has hampered the market growth in food pigments segment.  However, high-performance pigments are emerging as the safer alternatives to conventional pigments in food packaging. 

According to Grand View Research, the global HPP market, which was worth $4.17 billion in 2014 is expected to reach $6.32 billion by 2022. Growing automotive coatings demand is presumed to play a key role in positively shaping the market growth over the forecast period. Even though developing regions of Asia Pacific are showing signs of becoming potential markets, the high-performance pigment production is still dominated by European, US and Japanese companies.

The global HPP market was dominated by Europe with demand share exceeding 30 percent in 2014 due to a varied demand from multiple industries in the region. The European automotive industry has also shown signs of recovery, which will further strengthen the regional HPP demand. In North America, the HPP market is primarily driven by the automotive coatings and the recovering automotive industry is expected to strengthen the HPP market again. Developing regions are more price sensitive than developed regions. However, emerging markets of Asia Pacific and Latin America will witness rapid demand growth. Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth of 6 percent from 2015 to 2022.

The growing automotive industry in China, India, Thailand and Indonesia is expected to boost the demand for HPP in this region. Inorganic high-performance pigments dominated the product segment with demand share exceeding 60 percent of the global market in 2014. However, organic high-performance pigments are expected to witness a faster growth due to the fast changing customer buying patterns and favourable regulatory scenario.

Challenges Faced

Due to its superior characteristics over traditional pigments high-performance products are priced much higher when compared to their conventional counterparts. This price disparity is likely to be a key challenge for a price sensitive market. Further, volatile raw material prices also pose threats to the industry’s growth. Due to the rising preference for HPP by the end user industry, the competition among the industry participants has gone up which has resulted in companies taking strong measures to reduce manufacturing costs and yet provide superior quality products. Small and niche players are focusing on increased usage of specialised pigments, such as thermochromic pigments and daylight fluorescent pigments which are also impacting the use of high-performance pigments.

Growing concerns over environmental issues is also a major challenge for pigment suppliers as stricter environmental regulation, especially related to water and industrial waste treatment, is also hampering the growth of this industry However, rapid technological innovation for superior products with enhanced properties will offer abundant opportunities to lower the cost of HPP positively impacting the market’s growth and development. Among many characteristics, the most important attribute of high-performance pigments is its eco-friendliness. The growing concern about environment safety and the overall health security of consumers, the industry to so slowly shifting away from harmful pigments and embracing vibrant yet safe pigments giving high-performance pigment a wider arena to spread its hues.

© Chemical Today Magazine


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