The 2018 American Coatings Conference took place April 9-11, with almost 1,100 attendees and more than 100 technical presentations. During the Conference’s Plenary Session, Dr. Sonja Schulte, Editor of the European Coatings Journal, conducted a live, automated survey of the delegates. The questions involved topics such as the technologies and markets coatings companies find most important, drivers for R&D, hot topics and regulations. Following are the results of the survey.


1. What are the most important markets for you?

  • 67%   North America
  • 17%   Asia Pacific
  • 8%    Western Europe
  • 5%    South and Central America
  • 2%    Eastern Europe
  • 1%    Africa


2. Which of the following technologies do you judge as the most important future technologies in your industry sector?

  • 53%   Waterborne
  • 22%   Functional/smart
  • 14%   High-solids
  • 6%    UV/EB
  • 5%    Powder


3. What drives your R&D activities?

  • 57%   Customer requests
  • 13%   Cost reduction
  • 13%   Sustainability
  • 10%   Legislation and regulation
  • 7%    Raw material availability


4. What is the hottest topic on your current agenda?

  • 33%   Customer demands
  • 30%   Identifying new markets
  • 24%   Raw material prices and availability
  • 7%    Fulfillment of regulations
  • 6%    Automation/digitization of production processes


5. Which of the following regulations is currently most important for your company?

  • 60%   VOC
  • 21%   Labeling and hazard communication
  • 14%   Food contact
  • 5%    Indoor air quality


Dr. Schulte has conducted similar surveys at both the American Coatings Conference and the European Coatings Conference for the past six years. A question that is normally asked and that (for me) was noticeably absent this year revolves around the importance of sustainability. I asked raw material suppliers at the ACS why they thought this question might not be asked this year. The overwhelming response was that sustainability is now so embedded within many companies that it is no longer a buzz word that people are curious about. Sustainability can mean many different things, and companies define it differently, but overall it has become a recognized, accepted and integrated part of the coatings industry.

PCI sees the industry’s focus on sustainability on a daily basis, with the variety of press releases, new product announcements and technical articles that are submitted. In fact, this month, many of our articles center on sustainability – including technology that improves efficiency and productivity, and materials that incorporate biobased products and recycled plastic waste.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts about sustainability in our industry. Or perhaps you would like to share your views on the responses given above. Please email me at with your comments.