LONDON – Information Research has recently published The Western European Market for Industrial Wood Coatings, 6th Edition. According to the report, the market for industrial wood coatings in Western Europe stands at just over 425,000 tons. It is characterized by a variety of growth and decline patterns in different national markets – some have been increasing and some have been shrinking, while others appear static. Moreover, some technologies are facing virtual extinction in key markets, which threatens to reduce the number of chemical technologies at the disposal of the industry in the future.

The report also states that the climate of technology substitution in this sector is well established. Water-based technologies are now of paramount importance to the sector and are potentially the best avenue of growth for the future. Many in the industry expect water-based wood finishes to grow by 10% per year in the coming years, which could amount to around a further 48,000 tons of water-based wood finishes in use in Western Europe by 2011. This is in sharp contrast to the use of UV-curable coatings, whose growth of about 5-6% per year will tend to be capped by the level of investment needed to move to this process.

Polyurethanes (1K/2K) have either passed, or will soon reach, a zenith of demand in many of the national markets. They are struggling to hang on to market share as water-based coatings continue on their growth path. Acid-catalyzed and nitrocellulosic coatings are in danger of disappearing completely in some economies – chiefly those places where there is a strong preference for high-technology solutions.

The report also states that different materials continue to pose challenges for the sector. Although wood is a sustainable material, it is finding increased competition in all applications. The greater use of plastic, glass, aluminum, textiles and carpet in various applications continues to hamper the continued development of the wood application sectors.

Other wood-based materials pose a different area of competition, particularly with the development of finishing technologies for MDF.

Eastern Europe is now having a considerable influence on the market, and for three reasons:

· Relocation of end-user industries to lower-cost manufacturing bases;

· Subsequent opening of representative or sales offices for wood finishes producers in emerging economies in this region; and

· Increasing production of finished goods in Western Europe destined for Eastern European customers, chiefly due to rising living standards.

Dr Terry Knowles, Business Manager at IRL and author of the report, said “Compliant technology demands are the over-arching priority for wood finish formulators in the coming years. Many wood finish producers will be keen to develop higher-performance coatings while pressing for better raw materials at lower costs. There are plenty of technical opportunities left open to the wood finishing sector in Western Europe, whether dealing with the refinement of current technology, looking at opportunities with nanomaterials, or even considering a broader scope of foreign woods for finishing, as more wood continues to be imported into Europe.”

The Western European Market for Industrial Wood Coatings, 6th Edition, is now available to purchase. Sections of the report, priced individually, will soon be available to purchase online at IRL’s website, www.informationresearch.co.uk.