(click here for a larger photo)

LONDON - Nanomaterials have received a very good reception within the Western European coatings industry, and many paint companies are in the process of evaluating the potential benefits of these materials in coatings science, according to a recent report by Information Research, London.

Currently the nanomaterials supply sector to the paint industry is divided between companies producing the basic, untreated nanomaterials and some opportunistic specialty chemical companies that have moved into the area of "treated nanomaterials" that offer paint manufacturers the advantage of reduced time-to-market for new products by making the materials more easily dispersible. The poor dispersability of nanomaterials is seen as one of the major hurdles to the development of the sector.

Paint manufacturers are optimistic about the many advantages and opportunities that nanomaterials represent and have a long wish list of objectives that they think may be solved by formulation with nanomaterials, such as scratch resistance, water repellency, UV protection, improved durability, and self-cleaning and antimicrobial properties.

One of the major successes of the technology has been in the development of photo-catalytic and self-cleaning paints, which are beginning to come to prominence in Europe, especially in Germany, Italy and the U.K. These products are beginning to raise the awareness of nanotechnology itself.

Several driving forces will influence the use of nanomaterials in coatings formulation:

  • Regulation regarding VOCs is expected to accelerate their commercial acceptance;
  • The advantages of multifunctional coatings, which could, for example, bring temperature resistance and dirt repellency to the automotive OEM sector - one of the biggest potential areas of application;
  • Demand for thin-film technology, especially in the automotive-OEM sector;
  • Novel applications and effects;
  • Development of sophisticated pigment systems, e.g., camouflage applications; and
  • General product substitution in the paint market.

    For information on obtaining the report, contact Terry Knowles at tknowles@brg.co.uk.