One coat – multiple functionalities

One coat – multiple functionalities

11:31 AM, 11th August 2017
One coat – multiple functionalities
The coatings industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries today. (File photo)

The global coatings industry is striving to provide more - environment protection, corrosion resistance, weather durability, gloss and shine…. all in just a single coat.

By Debarati Das

We know that the main purpose of coatings is that of beautification and protection- but that’s just the leading edge. Industrial coatings industry constantly has to keep up with new materials getting incorporated in various industries, evolving applications of existing materials, ever changing environmental laws, and much much more. 

In short, a coating which was perfectly suitable last year can be redundant today because a certain industry switched from metal to plastic. The coatings manufacturers have to constantly innovate to keep it attuned to the changes in the industry. Industrial coatings have to be versatile enough to perform on complex substrates and be robust enough for surfaces made of multiple mixed metals, plastics and other materials.

Although the growth of this market has had several drivers, currently the industry dynamics is majorly being driven by the environmental concerns. The coatings industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries today. Most countries are constantly changing their environmental norms for a safer and better environment. While the US and Europe observe stringent environmental norms, emerging markets like China and India are also weaving its policies and norms to guard the rising environmental concerns. Coatings industry too is changing to make its products environment friendly. There is an increasing demand for low-solvent and solventless technologies with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).

New coating technologies are constantly entering the market and the user industry has a plethora of choices for new coating technologies including waterborne (thermosetting emulsion, colloidal dispersion, water-soluble) coatings, high-solids coatings, two-component systems, powder coatings, UV curable, radiation-curable coatings etc. These coatings reportedly have good growth prospects in the future.

Furthermore, the coatings industry is one of the large consumers of solvents, which are mostly derived from petrochemical feedstocks and refinery operations, the industry is also bending towards bio-based coatings to minimize the dependence on petrochemicals.

“From corrosion and fire protection to scratch resistance, aesthetic purposes or improved appearance, the tasks in industrial coatings are increasing. In paint application, we see a high demand for automation. In many industries, nearly all processes are already automated. Painting is often still a manual process,” said Alexander Carls, manager product management, (application technology/industrial products), Durr Systems AG. “We also see the trend for ease-of-use solutions together with robustness. Both factors are often crucial for customers decide on a product, as well experienced technicians to maintain and setup coating products/processes are rare and therefore expensive,” he added.

Demographic outreach

According to TechSci Research, the global industrial coatings market stood at $74.35 billion in 2016. The market is expected to grow by 4.01 percent to reach $77.33 billion by the end of 2017. “Rising automotive productions in conjunction with intensifying usage of corrosion coatings in various industries are the prime factors, pushing the demand for industrial coating across the globe. During 2017-2021, the demand for industrial coating is anticipated to increase at a CAGR of 5.15 percent to reach to $94.54 billion by 2021,” said Karan Chechi, research director, TechSci Research.

The coatings industry in the US, Western Europe and Japan are the mature markets and largely dependent on the growth of automotive, construction and transportation industry which too are currently witnessing slow growth. The action, however, is happening in the East where China, India, Iran, Poland and Saudi Arabia will offer the best growth prospect for the industry.

“The major demand is from Asia-Pacific and is also forecasted to grow at the highest CAGR. The growing demand from the end-user industries such as automotive, general industrial, coil, and others especially from the countries such as India, China, and Vietnam are expected to drive the industrial coatings market. Though the demand for industrial coatings is less in Vietnam but is expected to increase due to the potential and the untapped markets in the country,” said Annirban Bhattacharya, senior research analyst (paints & coatings Market), MarketsandMarkets. He further added that the growth of industrial coatings market will be driven by the demand for green & emerging technologies such as UV/EB and powder coatings for protective functions.

Even though there are numerous coatings producers in the market, the industry largely has an oligopoly of over 10 multinationals who are now expanding their operations in fast-growing markets such as China and India.

“Additionally, increasing government initiatives to accelerate the flow of FDI in countries like China and India is projected to steer the demand for industrial coatings in the region. The region holds a revenue share of more than 40 percent in the industrial coatings market in 2017,” said Chechi.

Apart from this, demand for industrial coating is also expected to come from countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Spain and France.

Market Trends

The gamut of applications of industrial coatings is vast and varied. From automotive, construction, marine, oil & gas, metallurgy & metal forming, aerospace, mining, medical & healthcare, the possibilities of innovation for industrial coatings is endless. Investments in renewable energy, particularly wind power, will also hold endless opportunities for this market.

However, each industry is looking for unique coating solutions for its various applications and hence, end-use specific coating solutions are becoming more and more important for the industry. While construction and infrastructure industry demands corrosion and fire protection coating solutions, the automotive industry is trending with self-healing coatings. The oil and gas industry, which constantly fights with corrosion due to water, H2S, CO2, sodium chloride and sulfuric acid, is always on a look out for better anti corrosive coatings. Currently, coatings made from epoxy, alkyd, polyurethanes and acrylic are being used on pipelines and other components to suit the need.

The aerospace industry could do with an extra ounce of a lighter coating to bring down the overall weight of the aircraft while also providing resistance to the damaging effects of the wind, water and UV rays that can lead to deterioration, erosion and cracking.

Customers are not just looking for sustainable and durable protection, but they want a stroke of coat to be multifunctional by providing better colour retention, enable weight reduction, protect from environment and chemical exposures and have minimal environmental impact while also being quick and easy to apply.

Rhino Linings Corporation tried to achieve such a result with its product HiChem 11-70 which is a two-component, chemical resistant, zero-VOC polyurethane lining. “This industrial-grade chemical-resistant coating is ideal for businesses looking to extend the life of company equipment and facilities while meeting stringent federal containment regulations concerning waste management and safe storage of hazardous materials,” said Pierre Gagnon, president and CEO, Rhino Linings Corporation.  

New coating technologies are constantly trying to fill up these demands. “Introduction of bio-based industrial coatings, booming demand for powdered coatings, development of reactive liquid polymers, focus towards fluoropolymer coatings, rising demand for automotive OEM coatings and multifunctional coatings will be the key driver of this market,” said Chechi.

Recently a project team from car maker Audi, BASF´s Coatings division and materials company Covestro successfully tested a clearcoat containing a biobased hardener on Audi Q2. BASF developed the clearcoat using the biobased hardener Desmodur® eco N 7300 from Covestro which is made from 70 percent renewable raw materials. The clearcoat gave the car scratch resistance, a glossy appearance and protection against sunlight and other weather effects. 

“Using renewable raw materials in the production of bio-based hardeners helps to conserve fossil resources. At the same time, the biomass, as it grows, captures CO2 in the environment. In addition, process steps are eliminated during bio-based raw material production for this hardener, thus leading to an additional reduction of CO2 emissions,” said Dr Markus Mechtel, head of marketing for automotive coatings, Covestro.

Apart from these, automation too is playing a major role in this industry to bring in speed and precision which is much required in the industry. Paint application supplier, Durr, recently introduced its paint robot, EcoRP 10 R1100, to meet the need for an easy entry into automized production with high rotational atomizer technology. “High rotational atomizers, which have been established in the automotive industry for many years, are definitely of major interest for the general industry.  The higher transfer efficiency together with the superior achievable surface quality along with its spray pattern flexibility allows customers to adjust to their needs whenever necessary,” said Carls.

There are few other trends that are keeping the coatings manufacturers on their toes:

Solvent Vs Water-based coatings:

Solvent-based coatings dominated the industrial coatings market for long. However, these coatings are losing its market share due to growing environmental concerns, government legislation and VOC emissions making way for other coatings, especially powder and water-based industrial coatings. 

Although solvent-based coatings still hold the majority share in the market, various researches suggest that they are projected to be surpassed by water-based and other coatings in the future which have lower or no VOC emissions. Water-based coatings also provide good adhesion to metal and offer solid resistance to weather, chemicals and other harsh conditions.

“Water-based coatings uses water as a solvent (not necessarily contain zero solvents, though), making them environment friendly as compared to solvent based coatings. When working in confined or poorly ventilated area, the evaporation of solvents can be hazardous to the workers’ health. For instance, projects involving fuel storage tanks and railroad tank cars make use of water-based coatings. These also reduce the concentration of flammable materials that build up in a confined space,” said Bhattacharya.

“Environmental compliance (especially in North America & Europe) is also a major reason for adopting water-based coating by the coatings manufacturers. As many solvents evaporate in the air, the National, state and local governments often regulate VOCs by limiting how much businesses are allowed to emit in a given timespan. As the EPA sets national rules for VOCs, imposing intensive efforts to limit the VOC emission makes the water-based coatings to gain more popularity in the future as compared to the solvent based coatings,” he added.

Dürr said that it experiences a slight change from water-based to solvent-based coatings. “Water-based coatings are more sensitive and therefore require a stable and sophisticated environment, which is not available in all cases. On the other hand, environmental regulations become more important and strict for countries all over the world, which leads to a higher need of environmentally friendly technology, such as water-based coating,” said Carls.

Self-healing coatings:

A scratch on car is probably the last thing that you would want to fret about as coatings manufacturers are working towards self-healing coatings that can repair scratches and abrasions on car surfaces. Several companies are working towards commercializing this technology. Covestro, came up with a polyurethane (PU) coating a few year back, where the crosslinked PU coating has its own "polymer memory” which is triggered by heat when a car sits out in the sun and the bonds return to their original shape making the scratch to disappear.

Bio-based coatings:  

Most industrial coatings are derived from petrochemicals not just making the market subject to volatile crude oil prices, but also increasing environment concerns and increasing the dependency on an already depleting raw material source. Hence, most companies are turning their R&D efforts towards bio-based alternatives wherein eco-friendly coatings are being produced from castor oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, and succinic acid.

Using Nanotechnology:

Innumerable researches are happening wherein nanotechnology is being infused into coating manufacturing to modify specific properties (such as scratch, mar, wear, corrosion, and UV resistance) in highly specialized applications. Studies are also happening to make coatings with easy dispersion, low viscosity etc. According to a recent research, the presence of high-quality nanoparticles in coating formulations contribute to tougher and more reliable coatings. These coatings respond to single/multiple external stimuli, such as light, dirt, pH changes, temperature, aggressive liquids, bio-foulant, impact, fatigue, and have demonstrated outstanding, barrier properties with scratch resistance, in-situ healing, superhydrophobicity, superoleophilicity, high optical transmission, thermal stability, and resistance to strong acids, resulting in extended service life of the coatings and protected metallic materials.

Given the market demands, just a simple layer of coating is no longer sufficient to meet the complex requirements. The market needs smart coatings that can do complex jobs easily yet effectively. 

© Chemical Today Magazine


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