Industry Spotlight - Architectural Finishes

Paint and Coatings Global Takeover

October 2017

Industry Spotlight - Architectural Finishes

Paint and Coatings Global Takeover

October 2017
The coatings industry is considered one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world which amid the past 40 years, producers have been forced to adopt low-solvent and solventless technologies and will continue to do so. In fact, the number of coating producers is large but most are regional producers with only 10 or so large multinationals who expanded operations in fast-growing areas like China. After a decade of steady growth, production in Asia now accounts for 50-55% of the total. Production and consumption are nearly identical in each country, as trade is limited to relatively small quantities of high-value product.

Generally, coatings grow in tandem with the economy, so growth will continue to focus on the developing world. The major change that has taken place in the coatings industry during the last 40 years has been the adoption of new coating technologies: waterborne (thermosetting emulsion, colloidal dispersion, water-soluble) coatings, high-solids coatings, two-component systems, powder coatings and radiation-curable coatings. Actually, coatings provide two primary functions -decoration and protection. Indeed, about 45% of the coatings produced worldwide are used to decorate, protect new construction and maintain existing structures, including residential homes, apartments, public buildings, plants and factories ("architectural" or "decorative" coatings). Another 40% of the coatings are used to decorate and/or protect industrial products ("product finishes"). Most of the remaining coatings ("special purpose") are used for miscellaneous applications such as traffic paints, vehicle refinishing, high-performance coatings for industrial plants and equipment, and protection of marine structures and vessels (usually applied outdoors in ambient conditions). The coatings industry in the United States, Western Europe and Japan is mature and generally correlates with the economy, especially housing, construction and transportation. Overall demand from 2016 to 2021 will increase at average annual rates of 3% in the United States and 2% in Western Europe. However, in Japan, consumption of coatings will experience relatively slow growth as a result of the lack of growth in major markets such as automotive OEM, machinery and appliances. According to IHS, coatings are growing at a much faster rate in emerging countries: the best prospects for growth are in China (6-7% average annual growth in the near future), India (6.6%), Iran (4-5%), Poland (4%) and Saudi Arabia (3-4%) noting that total global growth should be about 4% per year. Most of the major multinational coatings producers have production in China which should gain even more presence in the developing world as living standards increase and consumption of coatings rises. Furthermore, demand in Asia continues to rise faster than elsewhere in the world as the region accounts for 50-55% of global consumption. Through the next five years, air pollution regulations will continue to be a driving force behind the adoption of new technologies. Despite the overall relatively slow growth in demand anticipated for coatings, waterborne and high-solids coatings, powders, UV curables, and two-component systems appear to have good growth prospects. In general, environmental regulations are becoming more stringent region-wise to limit emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) in the industrialized world and in developing countries like China. Undeniably, one new area of interest is nanotechnology, with tens of thousands of patents issued just for the coatings industry; very small ceramic or metallic particles can be added to paint formulations to modify specific properties (e.g. scratch, corrosion, and UV resistance) in highly specialized applications. All in all, some of the futuristic applications are nanotubes for electrically conductive coatings and to increase the speed of reaction of thermosetting resins; organosilane dendrimer coatings; buckyball coatings for machine parts; and metals for conductive coatings in inks. Recent research efforts have been focused primarily on functionalizing the particle surface of the nanoparticles to make them more compatible with the coating resin systems, so that easy dispersion, low viscosity and covalent bonding between the particles and resins are achieved.