New exclusive market data forecasts a healthy year-on-year expansion in world demand for high-performance pigments as well as high-performance paints and coatings. Two new reports from Smithers, The Future of High-Performance Pigments to 2021 and The Future of High-Performance Paints and Coatings, chart both of these markets and the similar trends that are affecting each.

Market Splits

In 2016, high-performance pigments (HPPs) had a global volume market of 178,844 tonnes – with an overall value of $4.76 billion (€4.33 billion). Across the next five years this will accelerate steadily at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3%, reaching 206,921 tonnes in 2021 – with a world market value of $5.49 billion.

HPPs face a highly competitive global business environment characterized by increasingly demanding performance requirements. This is creating an impetus for producers of HPPs – like BASF, Clariant, Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Dominion Colour and Cappelle – to optimize durability, color strength, dispersibility in a range of resin systems, chemical stability and lower solubility.

With a 54% market share, coatings remain the most significant end use for HPPs, followed by plastics, inks and cosmetics respectively. The fastest developing end-use segment is textiles – although it will remain at only around 2% of global consumption across the Smithers study period.

In terms of volume consumption, metallic pigments are 43% of the 2016 market – with consumption pronounced particularly in Europe – followed by pearlescent and organic HPPs respectively.

Wider Economic Context

The HPP sector will need to negotiate the same economic megatrends as the wider ink industry – low petroleum prices, prospects of a slowdown in growth in China, and the as-yet-undefined fallout from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Market expansion will be fastest in Asia – already the world’s largest regional market. In contrast, growth in the second largest region (Europe) will be significantly below the market average, with consumption in North America tracking the global CAGR.

High-Performance Paints and Coatings

In 2015, high-performance paints and coatings demand was 9.89 million tonnes and valued at $41.87 billion, according to Smithers’ research. This represents a 29% share by volume of the global paints and coatings market, and a 35% share of global value. High-performance applications will become more important to coatings and paint producers across the next five years, as it grows at a steady year-on-year rate of 4.6% to reach nearly 13 million tonnes in 2021.

Whereas decorative products dominate the broader paint and coatings sector (58% by volume), the market landscape in high-performance solutions is different, with protective coatings, marine coatings and automotive products being the key applications.

For manufacturers of protective coatings for steel and concrete, low oil and gas prices have led to major cut-backs in exploration and expansion of production facilities, reducing demand from this industry. This has been offset to a large extent however by investment in infrastructure projects and the sustainable energy industry, consuming products used to protect new equipment – in particular wind turbines.

In Asia and Latin America, rising disposable incomes are fueling greater demand for personal transport, building new markets for high-performance coatings for the automotive and motorcycle industries. At the same time, increased urbanization and the resultant traffic congestion is prompting many cities to invest in public transport infrastructure. In Europe and North America, initiatives on reducing exhaust emissions and on green transport policies are also aimed at improved public transport networks, which can create new opportunities.

HPP Legislative Phase Outs

With the dangers of lead-based paints well known, steps to further phase out this class of pigments will continue. This situation is well advanced in the developed world – for example, the REACH Regulation in Europe has helped close BASF’s lead chromate business. Through 2016-2021 there will be a shift towards greater restriction in developing economies, leading to further market penetration of organic high-performance yellows and oranges, and bismuth vanadate.

More sustainable HPPs are a future growth area, tracking wider trends in the chemicals sector. In particular this will see the evolution of more performance pigments whose production involves low or very low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – a step supported by new regulatory programs.

The reduction of VOC emissions is being achieved by moving to waterborne and powder coatings. This requires different pigment formulations – especially dispersion technologies – from those appropriate for solventborne applications, and requires new investment in many cases.

Green HP Paints

Within the decorative paints segment, reducing VOC emissions is also a key driver. This is in response to both tougher environmental regulations and consumer demands for ‘greener’ products. This trend on its own does not necessarily result in higher performance products, as the primary objective is to match existing performance criteria with paints containing lower levels of VOCs.

Technical evolution towards higher performing decorative paints is posited on adding additional functions. For indoor use this includes reduced maintenance with easy-cleaning paints, antimicrobial paints and wall paints that absorb airborne pollutants. For example, interior paints have been introduced – especially in France and the United States – that use a new water-based acrylic binder that absorbs formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical present in adhesives and engineered wood materials used in furniture.

In exterior applications, evolution of high-durability masonry paints, easy-cleaning or self-cleaning wall paints offer maintenance savings across the lifetime of a building or piece of equipment. High-performance exterior paints and coatings can also help control the internal conditions in a building, with paints optimized to provide a degree of insulation and cool-roof coatings that reflect UV from sunlight.

Across the 2016-2021 period, Smithers concludes this type of additional functionality will make the previously underdeveloped high-performance decorative segment the fastest growing, with a year-on-year expansion of 7.1%.

Technical Innovation Driving HPPs

Market forces acting on pigment producers are leading to investment in new technologies, including:

  • Organic nanopigments, with platforms like PPG’s patented Andaro Tint Dispersion Technology, helping deliver extended portfolios of colors with the dramatic face and flop effects called for by designers and consumers. Dispersion and milling platforms that can operate with these ultrafine pigments are also a necessary technical development that is now receiving R&D funds from the likes of Buhler.
  • Cooling pigments that add the capacity to reflect near infrared (IR) radiation – as well as add color – are another fast-developing segment. These HPPs are principally mixed-metal oxides. They are aligning with broader trends like environmentally sustainable construction where their reflection of IR lessens heat transfer into the interior and saves on air conditioning costs.
  • Interest in high-performance biobased pigments is accelerating, driven by corporate and consumer interest in minimizing environmental impacts.

Nanotechnologies and Smart Coatings in HP Paints

Exploiting engineered nanomaterials for performance is a key focus for the global coatings and paints industry. Smithers predicts that use of nanotechnologies for performance enhancement will gradually increase as their relative benefits are better understood.

For example, the germ-killing properties of nanosilver are adding new options in antimicrobial paints. Healthcare is an obvious application, as areas painted with these products can help reduce the spread of deadly ‘superbugs’ like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and clostridium difficile (C-Diff).

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide both act as UV absorbers; this property is significantly enhanced when a nanoform of either is used, due to the resultant vast increase in surface area exposed to sunlight. Nanotitanium dioxide is also photocatalytic – meaning its absorption of UV from sunlight produces hydroxyl radicals. These rapidly decompose airborne pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, VOCs, bacteria, fungi, odors and nicotine, and are also finding a market in interior wall paints, which can actively improve indoor air quality.

R&D will continue to focus on introducing smart solutions – paints and coatings that offer additional functions. Scratch and abrasion resistance remain key goals for applications like wall paints, smart devices and motor vehicles. In the latter segment, Nissan is already enjoying commercial success with its Scratch Shield product.

Easy-cleaning paints and coatings, which permit stains and dirt to be removed easily through the use of hydrophobic additives such as waxes, fluoroadditives or ceramic microspheres, also have a strong commercial appeal. In the future this may extend to using nanomaterials like nanosilica or other structures inspired by the hydrophobic surface of lotus leaves. Successful development will allow such technologies to progress from their current commercial use in limited but high-value applications, such as the electronics and aerospace industries, to broader markets – for example in coating car windshields to prevent rain droplets from clinging to the glass.

Smithers concludes that these trends will conspire to produce a demand for smart coatings that will be over $1 billion by 2021. Consumption will continue to grow very rapidly, exceeding $10 billion by 2026.

 Full mapping of these technologies and quantitative analysis of their impact in both the HPP market and the HP paints and coatings market across the next five years are given in the Smithers reports – The Future of High-Performance Pigments to 2021 and The Future of High-Performance Paints and Coatings to 2021. 

More information on these reports can be found at and