High Performance and Special Effects Pigments Market


The high performance and special effects pigments market is expected to continue steady growth over the next few years. Smithers Rapra, a global provider of consulting services, conferences, training and market reports, recently published a report titled The Future of High Performance Pigments to 2017. According to the report, developing markets are largely responsible for continued progress. “Despite a global recession and sky rocketing raw material prices, the market for high-performance pigments (HPPs) continues to grow, particularly in emerging markets like China and India,” the report stated. “Increased demand for differentiation and appearance in the packaging sector is driving growth, and emerging print processes such as inkjet are also having a positive impact on this market.” A Growing Market Regionally there is a significant difference in outlook and performance for high performance pigments. “China’s growth rate has slowed, but it still is growing,” said Michael T. Venturini, global marketing manager, Coatings, Sun Chemical Performance Pigments. “We see the implementation of VOC regulations driving changes in paint technology and subsequent modifications in pigments. Brazil’s economy has softened and has affected all segments of the coatings market. It may be some time before we see Brazil’s markets return to growth. Europe’s automotive sector is showing modest signs of recovery, but the overall market remains very fluid because of currency shifts. The U.S., however, is performing better than other regions as a result of improved home sales and automotive sales. The automotive sector is a particular bright spot because of the trend toward trucks and SUV’s and the increased popularity of chromatic colors.” William L. Baker, vice president of North American Operations – Industrial at Sudarshan, said that the market has shown continued demand and growth in both specialty organic pigments and special effect pigments. “This, of course, is region-dependent, and the currency challenges have taken a toll over the past year,” he said. “In particular, dollar based production is more adversely affected than Euro based production, thereby making manufacturers in Europe at a recent advantage.” Baker said that China is a focus for Sudarshan because of its growth potential. “China is a large opportunity for Sudarshan, as we have a relatively small market share in a country with strong growth and potential,” he said. “With our existing channels to market, we are finding this region to have particularly strong growth for Sudarshan.”  Falko Orlowski, executive vice president sales & marketing at Trust Chem, said that, in general, the U.S. pigment market is relatively stable and shows small growth. “Most customers work on raw material cost reduction programs, and that is where pigment manufacturers can find opportunities. On the high performance side, Trust Chem has seen growth with new products such as PR202, PV19, PBr25, PY185 and PY155,” Orlowski said. In terms of its focus on emerging markets, Trust Chem has a global sales network that is headquartered in Hangzhou, China. “We are greatly imbedded into the Chinese market with four production facilities there,” he said. Orlowski added, “The U.S. automotive market is still one of the largest users for high performance pigments. With the largest independent pigment lab in China equipped with an automated spray booth, Trust Chem is increasing focus in this area.” “Our sales grow with double digit increases year over year due to our success at bringing customers high performance pigments at fair prices,” said Frank Lavieri, executive vice president and general manager at Lansco Colors.  “Lansco Colors was the leader in bringing alternatives to previously patent protected products and has grown to a market leading supplier for high performance pigments.  20 years ago Clariant, Ciba and BASF enjoyed patent protected monopolies for high performance pigments which are now gone.  Not coincidently all of these company names either are already out of the pigment business or have announced they will jettison their pigment businesses by 2016.”  Increased Costs, Increased Performance According to Baker, raw material prices are heavily dependent on Chinese sources, which have a relation to the U.S. dollar. “This has put a significant squeeze on margins for dollar-based producers,” he said. “While we are mitigating some of the cost increases with long term RM contracts and purchasing strategies, the industry is feeling the effects of this squeeze.”  In spite of the high prices, Baker maintained that the investment in high performance and specialty pigments is a smart one. “High performance, as the name implies, means they perform better in processing and/or application with heat, light fastness, chemical resistance, etc.,” he said. “The significant change in the market place is that the higher performance products are coming down in price, and as a result are expanding their share of the pigment portfolio as they displace some mid and classical performance products.” Orlowski agreed that costs associated with high performance pigments are worth it when considering the advanced properties offered.  “Light and weather fastness, opacity and heat stability, which are often vital depending on the customer’s end application,” he said. Moving forward, Baker said that high performance pigments will continue to encroach on the mid- and classical-market prices. “As they do,” he said, “there is an inevitable displacement of those inferior chemistries to some degree. Therefore, HPP’s are finding inroads to non-traditional markets such as architectural coatings, industrial coatings, plastics, and even some inks markets.” The pigment market is highly competitive and Lansco Colors said it is controlling costs while continuing to maintain the high product quality and on-time-delivery our customer expect. “High performance pigments are necessary in applications and end uses which require better durability, heat stability, migration resistance or other attributes not found in the lowest cost pigments,” said Lavieri.  “High performance pigments also bring attributes to a coating, plastic or ink which saves money. For example repainting a house each year is more expensive than using paint made with the Lansco Colors high performance pigments with longer light and weatherfastness.  As another example most plastic parts, especially the food packages found in your grocery store, could not be colored with conventional pigments due the high temperatures used in plastics manufacturing. Finally high performance pigments are alternatives to more regulated conventional pigments so they are replacing them in sensitive end uses as well.”