The 2011 European Coatings Show and Congress wrapped up on March 31 after four days of presentations and exhibits on the latest developments and innovations in the global coatings market. Organizer Vincentz Network was certain that the number of attendees would surpass the drop in attendance that was seen back in 2009, but was unsure if they would exceed the record numbers of 2007. Preliminary reports show that over 26,000 visitors attended the event, which beats the previous record set in 2007. Exhibitors (887) from 45 countries presented their products and services on a record net display area of over 30,000 m² (322,917 square feet). The Congress reports 648 participants from 40 countries, with 150 papers in 25 sessions. The event had an international share of about 60% for both exhibitors and visitors.

The European Coatings Award for the Best Conference Paper was presented to Dr. Marc Entenmann’s team from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation. The paper, entitled “Corrosion Protection with Nanoscale Anticorrosive Pigments in Coatings,” described the effects of reducing the particle size of corrosion protection pigments. The jury based its decision on the outstanding way in which the paper showed an approach to solving one of the industry’s biggest and most cost-intensive problems: the corrosion of steel.

If I had to sum up the focus of the event in one word it would be “sustainability”. After speaking with numerous industry suppliers, it is clear that sustainability is defined and achieved differently by everyone, whether it be through the use of bio-based raw materials, producing more environmentally friendly products, reducing the carbon footprint and that of customers, saving time and energy in production, recycling, or helping to create coatings that last longer and require fewer coats.

Commenting on DSM’s recent reorganization, Patrick Niels, Business Unit Director of DSM Coating Resins, stated that the company wants to focus on building a portfolio focused on the most sustainable coating technologies including powder coatings, UV technology and sustainable liquid coatings. The best way to do this was to merge the DSM Powder Coating Resins and DSM NeoResins+ business units into a single new unit, DSM Coating Resins. Firmly believing that the only technology that will see real growth is sustainable technology, Niels has no interest in non-sustainable product lines. Among other things, his strategy is to invest heavily in converting China to water-based technology, and to increase the value, appreciation and profitability of DSM’s resins in the coatings industry in order to ensure that DSM can sustain its investments in R&D, which are necessary to support innovation in the industry.

A few other companies spoke specifically with me about sustainability. Clariant discussed their recent Sustainability Report, which covers, in detail, the company’s focus on sustainable management and responsible action. Clariant discussed production economics and green technology when describing their additives and pigments designed to reduce production line complexity, improve efficiency and reduce the environmental impact.

Perstorp’s approach to innovation is driven by sustainability on three fronts – through reducing emissions and energy consumption in raw material manufacturing; through the innovation of new products that enable customers to formulate low-impact solutions; and through high-performance additives that enable more durable and long-lasting end products.

The European Coatings Congress featured a keynote lecture by Professor Matthias Beller from Rostock University, Germany. The winner of the first Sustainable Chemistry Award showed that sustainability in all aspects is the grand challenge of the 21st Century. Sustainability was also the central issue of the second keynote lecture by Dr. Erik Risberg, Jotun, Norway.

As always, the ECS was a success, not only for its organizers, but for those who attended as well. For a roundup of what was exhibited at the show, check out PCI’s archived ECS daily e-newsletter at (click on E-Newsletter Archive in the left column). The next European Coatings Show will take place at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg from March 19-21, 2013, and the Congress will start, as always, a day earlier on March 18, 2013.