The history of paint is a colorful one. Dating back to the Stone Age, paints have been developed and utilized by primitive humans to document their lives with techniques that have endured the test of time. Around 40,000 years ago, tribes in Europe, Australia and Indonesia began using the power of paint to draw images on cave walls to depict their daily lives. These paints were extracted from natural sources such as berry juices, dried plants and even blood. As knowledge about paint grew, humans became acquainted with mineral-based pigments and painting techniques, and technologies surged ahead. Receiving a massive thrust during the Industrial Revolution, painting technology also paved the way for coatings, which were and still are extensively employed on machineries and equipment to protect them from rust and corrosion.

Today, the concept of paint encompasses chemical formulations ranging from latex paints used for covering residential and commercial structures to complex compounds that are used in the automotive industry to coat vehicular components and exteriors. The global paint and coatings market size is growing exponentially, reaching USD 154.64 billion in 2019, according to Fortune Business Insights™. The future prospects for the paint and coatings industry appear even brighter, given the prolific growth in the construction and automotive industries, along with the speedy expansion of urban areas around the globe. Capitalizing on these correlated trends, several companies in the paint and coatings industry are coming out with novel products and solutions to make the most of these upcoming opportunities. Let’s take a look at a few of the recent developments in this industry.


PPG to Investigate Coating Applications for Lithium-Ion Batteries in Automobiles

The US-based specialty materials major, PPG Industries, received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in September 2020 to conduct research and study the efficacy of employing two versatile processes in the production of electrodes for lithium-ion batteries. The project will require PPG to test the electrophoretic deposition (EPD) and multilayer slot die coating methods in addressing the engineering challenges posed in the production of advanced battery materials and devices for automotive applications. PPG will partner with the Tennessee-based Oak Ridge National Laboratory for this project, which will run for three years and cost USD 2.2 million.


Sherwin-Williams Augments Color Palette with Fresh Emerald Hues

In June 2020, the American paint and coatings giant Sherwin-Williams released its Emerald Designer Edition, featuring 200 freshly-minted hues developed using an ultra-premium formula. The new color palette has been developed for professional decorators, homeowners and designers, who can choose from a wide range of shades, including brighter whites, clubbed within five novel designer sets that boast of high-quality finish. The categories include “Warm + Welcoming”, “Rustic + Refined”, “Minimal + Modern”, “Form + Function”, and “Classic + Collected”.


Axalta Launches High-Durability Automotive Coating Product in Europe

Axalta Coating Systems introduced Imron 2K, the company’s high-durability clearcoat offering for its commercial vehicle customers in Europe in September 2020. Combining nanoparticles with a flexible resin network, the coating material contains anti-abrasive properties that safeguards surfaces from inhospitable weather conditions, even after prolonged exposure. The clearcoat has been engineered to resist sagging, bending, or dropping of the coating, guaranteeing a superior performance for the user. More importantly, the Imron 2K has low volatile organic compound content, making it an eco-friendly alternative to regular coating products. The launch of this product gives Axalta a decisive edge in the automotive and transportation industry in Europe.


Urbanization and Construction: The Two Pillars of Growth for the Paint and Coatings Industry

The vibrancy of architectures is critically dependent on how the exteriors and interiors of structures play with natural light. Paint and coatings play a central role in enhancing the beauty and strength of any brick-and-mortar structure, and with the rapid expansion of urban spaces around the globe, the importance of these materials has gained unprecedented significance. According to projections of the United Nations (UN), urban areas will be home to approximately 2.5 billion people (roughly 70% of the global population) by 2050.

Urban areas are typically characterized by massive buildings, skyscrapers and residential sprawls of varying shapes and sizes, which require high-quality paint and coatings to withstand inclement weather and any other form of damage. Complementing this urbanization trend is the equally speedily growing construction industry. A recent research study produced by Oxford Economics and Global Construction Perspectives estimates that the volume of global construction output will reach a value of USD 15.5 trillion by 2030. Together, these two factors are likely to create enormous opportunities for companies in the paint and coatings industry. However, despite these exciting projections and predictions, the industry is set to experience grueling times on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.


How COVID-19 is Inhibiting the Growth of the Paint and Coatings Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has created widespread uncertainty and anxiety, retarding global economic growth and stymieing industrial activities. The most significant impact of the pandemic has been felt by supply chain networks, which rely heavily on smooth flow of materials and people across borders and geographies. With lockdown and social distancing measures in place, producers have been forced to work with reduced manpower. As a result the supply side of the paint and coatings industry has been majorly disrupted.

More serious challenges await this industry from the demand side. Sharp contraction of demand for automobiles around the globe will inevitably limit the adoption of coating and paint raw materials in the automotive industry. At present, the condition of automotive manufacturers is extremely dire, with carmakers such as Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen being compelled to close down several plants across Europe. Similarly, construction activities have been disrupted as workers are fearful on contracting the infection at sites, leading to delayed projects and falling demand.


Not All Hope is Lost, Thankfully

The importance of paint and coatings in industrial and commercial applications is unlikely to diminish in the long-run, owing to the multiple functions these materials perform. Industrialization is speeding up in the rapidly growing economies of Asia and Africa, in spite of the current pandemic, and is likely to create huge demand for paints and coatings. In fact, once the vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered, the global economy will be back with a bang and industrial activities will flourish.