Efficiency within the coatings industry has already addressed the challenges of the Solvent Emissions Directive and exhausted most of the growth opportunities attributable to technology substitution within the decorative sector to such an extent that most expect future growth in Western Europe to be in line with GDP (typically 1-2% per annum), rather than being affected by positive market developments. The emulsion sector has witnessed a few changes with formulation bases; styrene acrylics being flexible and cheap have been particularly successful in Germany and Italy, while PVA emulsions have been making gains in other parts of Southern Europe as they are considered to offer good water resistance. Pure acrylics represent an opportunity to target the premium market, but since the decorative market functions on volume rather than price, this may be a route few are prepared to take.
In the gloss paint sector, there is still some room for change as long as the culture of using solvent-based alkyds lingers. But water-based acrylic glosses are well established in parts of Europe, particularly Scandinavia. As with the industrial coatings sector, there is still a long road ahead for research into matching the performance of water-based coatings up to their solvent-based counterparts.
In the liquid industrial coatings sector, the main avenues open for development are the two paths of high-solids and water-based coatings. There is a need for more research into the formulation of both types but, within the water-based sector, attractive areas are likely to be with water-based acrylics, epoxies and polyurethane dispersions (PUDs). Overall, the market for resins for liquid industrial coatings is expected to contract slightly, although the industry may consider producing for Eastern European markets where industrial coatings are in short supply and where there is - at least for the short term - greater laxity with regard to the formulations in use. This may help to offset a decline in alkyd resin consumption.
The powder coatings sector, which consumes about 200,000 tons of powder coating resins, will also only show growth broadly in line with GDP. A combination of completion of technology substitution and declining manufacturing output in Western Europe makes the need for new developments and new markets particularly acute within the powder-finishing sector; the automotive sector is widely tipped as a future growth market. Some newer systems such as silicones, which boast supreme performance characteristics, may grow, but these are still niche parts of the market.
Other than the shift to compliant and clean technologies, future trends across the industry are likely to include:
- Formulation of decorative paints with less binder, cheaper binder and less other-solids content;
- Reduced additive content in both decorative and general industrial coatings;
- Possible reconsideration of polyurethane use if cheaper alternatives are available, especially while raw material prices are high;
- The need for greater durability and reduced frequency of repainting;
- A move towards thinner films;
- Better drying behavior;
- Alternative cure mechanisms and technologies.
The Market for Coating Resins in Western Europe (79 pages and 38 tables), which includes a directory of resin and emulsion manufacturers, is now available for purchase from IRL online at www.informationresearch.co.uk. For more information, contact Terry Knowles at firstname.lastname@example.org.