This trend is made possible by a host of new special effects technologies being developed by today's pigment suppliers, and it isn't limited to automotive applications. From luster pigments for powder coatings to sparkling metallics, aluminum flakes, color-shift technologies and solar heat reflection, today's finishing professionals have a variety of options available to increase the aesthetic value and performance of their product
Luster PigmentsRecent developments in luster pigments are improving powder coating quality, color matching and overall coating appearance. For example, the Cyclo® family of pigments from Engelhard (now part of BASF) are white pearlescent, titanium dioxide (TiO2)-coated mica pigments that can be incorporated into formulations by dry blending under typical conditions used in the powder coating industry. They help eliminate the potential buildup of pearl pigment on spray gun tips, which enables formulators to increase the amount of pearl pigment in their coating formulations by up to 10%. This benefit offers more flexibility to formulators attempting to match the color of liquid coatings and new styling options in metallic anodized finishes.
The Cyclo pigments also have a surface treatment that provides better charge compatibility with multiple powder coating resins. This improved compatibility reduces separation concerns due to charging differences, tip buildup and spitting, which are typically seen when untreated TiO2-coated mica pigments are used in a dry blend powder application. The pigments produce a consistent color and smooth panel appearance, and can be used in applications ranging from architectural coatings and building panels, to lawn and garden, interior furniture, and accessories for the automotive market.
BASF also developed the Mearlite® luster pigments, which impart a range of optical effects from a soft, satin luster to a sharp, metallic brilliance in coatings. These effects are due to plate-like crystals of bismuth oxychloride that have a silver-white and transparent appearance.
Shimmer and ShineAdvances in pigment manufacturing techniques are allowing finishing professionals to achieve new levels of shimmer and shine. For example, Shepherd Color has developed a new StarLight® product line designed to provide outstanding brilliance and sparkle in a variety of coating applications, particularly when viewed outdoors in the sunlight. The pigments are based on Shepherd Color's new MicroMirror® technology, which is produced through the use of a well-defined borosilicate glass base uniformly coated with metallic silver. The borosilicate base provides the pigments with an optimum surface for reflectivity. Additionally, the edges of the pigment are coated to make the sparkle effect visible at any orientation. The scintillating sparkle can be created at low pigment levels and can even be achieved with opaque pigments.
The StarLight pigments can be dry blended with other pigments prior to extrusion. As a result, true metallic effects and appearances can be obtained with the benefit of more effective formulating. The pigments are being widely used in the plastics industry, as well as in the powder coating market and some liquid coating applications.
Another example is BASF's Lumina® colors, which are mica-based effect pigments that create intriguing and dramatic shimmer effects in a variety of applications. The pigments reportedly provide increased chromaticity at the reflection angle and higher color purity and clarity than traditional interference colors.
Wolstenholme's Premial™ aluminum pigments are designed to provide excellent brilliance and coverage with a bright metallic effect. The company has also developed Pellex™ aluminum pellets that can produce a clean, highly lustrous metallic finish in plastic colorant applications. The product is manufactured using a water-based milling technology, so there is no odor in the finished article. It has a tight particle size distribution that maximizes brightness and reduces the flow and weld lines in the finished product.
Color-Shift TechnologiesWhile color-changing pigments have been available for quite some time, suppliers continue to advance the technology to provide enhanced aesthetics and a broader range of applications. One example is BASF's Firemist® borosilicate flake pigments, which are designed with excellent color purity, brightness, transparency and reflectivity to create a brilliant sparkle effect, a strong feeling of depth and, when blended, true multicolored effects. Firemist Colormotion color-changing pigments, the most recent addition to the Firemist line, change color as the visual angle of the viewer shifts. Representing the latest advance in borosilicate pigment technology, these multi-dimensional-effect materials make distinctive color travel effects possible in coatings applications.
JDSU has taken color-changing pigments to a new level through its optically variable pigment technology (OVP®), which has been used for a number of years as an anti-counterfeiting device on currency and other high value documents around the world. The company's new line of SecureShift solutions, based on the OVP technology, contains markers that make it forensically identifiable and uniquely verifiable. The color shift properties of this technology are the result of a thin-film interference phenomenon. The material consists of an ultra-thin, multi-layer interference flake structure, which is opaque, thin, flat and highly specular. The color is generated when the material's layered construction causes interference of light waves. The simple color shift between two distinct colors makes it easy for the technology to be verified in the field and distinguishes counterfeits from the genuine product. In addition to providing enhanced product security, SecureShift also creates dazzling effects that can heighten the aesthetic appeal and increase the value of a product. Applications include labels, packaging, closures, molded plastics and thermal transfers.
Waterborne SolutionsIn recent years, one of the strongest drivers of change in the finishing industry has been the need for environmental compliance. Regulations controlling volatile organic compound (VOC) and hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions have driven the industry far away from the old low-solids, solvent-based systems popular many years ago and toward waterborne coating technologies. Pigment suppliers have responded by developing new effects specifically for use in waterborne coating systems.
One example is Silberline's AquaTech Solutions, which includes the SilBerCote® AQ and AquaPaste® series of passivated aluminum pigments for use in waterborne automotive and industrial coatings. Both lines are characterized by a bright face color, dark flop, high distinctiveness of image (D.O.I.) and high sparkle. Another example is Schlenk's Aquasilber and Aquamet aluminum pigments, which are designed to provide metallic effects in waterborne systems.
Unique ApplicationsAs energy costs have skyrocketed over the last few years, so has interest in technologies that can minimize solar transmission in building interiors. Classic shading systems use additives such as white pigments, aluminum and absorption pigments. Because of that, the heat portion of solar radiation is reflected, but the visible light is also shaded. The actual goal is a high transmission of light and at the same time less solar transmission. One solution is the new Iriodin® SHR (solar heat reflection) interference pigments from EMD Chemicals Inc., which are designed especially for the heat reflection of plastics. The reflection and absorption of light can be influenced by the coating thickness and coating buildup of the pigment platelets.
A Competitive EdgeToday's finishing professionals must continuously look for new ways to differentiate their products in an increasingly competitive market. Advanced coatings incorporating the latest developments in special effects pigments can provide enhanced quality, appearance and performance for a superior surface.
- BASF Corp., Performance Chemicals, 100 Campus Dr., Florham Park, NJ 07932; (800) 669-BASF; (973) 425-6000; (973) 245-6132; www.basf.com
- EMD Chemicals Inc., Industrial Pigments, 7 Skyline Dr., Hawthorne, NY 10532; (888) 367-3275; fax (914) 785-5894; e-mail email@example.com; www.emdchemicals.com
- JDSU - Flex Products Group, 1402 Mariner Way, Santa Rosa, CA 95407; (707) 525-7007; fax: (707) 525-7537; www.jdsu.com/decorative
- Schlenk-Both Metallic Pigments, 40 Nickerson Rd., Ashland, MA 01721; (800) 991-2684; fax (508) 881-1278
- Shepherd Color, 4539 Dues Dr., P.O. Box 465627, Cincinnati, OH 45246; (513) 874-0714; fax (513) 874-0946; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.shepherdcolor.com
- Silberline Manufacturing Co., Inc., 130 Lincoln Dr., P.O. Box B, Tamaqua, PA 18252-0420; (800) 348-4824; fax (570) 668-0197; e-mail email@example.com; www.silberline.com
- Wolstenholme International, Inc., 850 Hawthorne Ln., West Chicago, IL 60185; (630) 231-7000; fax (630) 231-7623; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.wolstenholme-usa.com