Pigments: Bright or Bleak?


Pigments: Bright or Bleak?


Pigments: Bright or bleak

THE STORY is neither black

nor white for the pigment industry,

with some areas thriving

and other sectors facing tough

competition from China and the

electronic printing world.

“Overall demand [for

specialty pigments] is increasing,

but it is also shifting:

for example the automotive

industry in the US is declining,

whereas in China there

is a boom,” says Siegfried

Winkelbeiner, global head

of Ciba Specialty Chemicals’

coatings business line.

Specialty pigments, which

consist of several pigment

classes, are found in high-quality

inks, high performance paints

and coatings, and plastics and

cosmetics, according to a recent

report by SRI Consulting,

a Menlo Park, CA-based

chemical business research

company. Some of the main

classes are classic organic, high

performance organic, interference/color

shifting, luminescent/phosphorescent,


inorganic and metal effects.

Specialty pigments range in

price from $5–8 per kilogram at

the low end of the spectrum, to as

high as $3,000 per kilogram, notes

SRI Consulting. The global specialty

pigment market was valued

at approximately $4.8bn in 2005.

“Increased competition in

classic organics from China

and India have pushed some

European manufacturers to

move their plants to China,

while foreign investment in

Indian pigment production

has been much smaller,” says

Ray Will, senior consultant,

SRI Consulting. “That sort of

thing is essentially leading to the

commodization of this specialty




Add to that a downturn in

printing and publishing caused

by a move toward electronic

publishing and by advertising

shifting from print media to

online, and the class currently

having the toughest time is the

classic organics, says Will.

However, Will notes that the

survivors of the classic organic

market are looking to broaden

their portfolios

and geographic


to compete

and some are

managing to

do so successfully.

The other

good news is

that several

different areas of the specialty

pigments market are flourishing.


There are several shining

lights in the specialty

“Overall demand

is increasing, but

also shifting”

Siegfried Winkelbeiner, Ciba

pigments market, according to

industry analysts. In the highperformance

organic area,

there are outstanding products

that are still distinguishing the

portfolios of European producers

and others, according to

SRI Consulting’s Will. There

are a variety of products that

are still covered by barriers

to entry, such as patents and

numerous other


obstacles, he



that are going

into automobile

finishes, particularly


the diketopyrrolo-pyrrol,


perylene, and quinacridone

areas, represent some of the

newer innovations in high performance

organic,” Will says.

“Those products have relatively

specialized niches where the

margins are higher and the

performance enables them to

go where other pigments can’t,

as well as meet environmental

and health regulations.”

Automobile finishes

enhanced with these pigments

have the ability to withstand

more difficult environments,

such as the blazing sunlight

of the Las Vegas desert or

high-humidity and arduous

conditions in Florida, which

typically mean withstanding

high ultraviolet light,

Will says.

“Demand for decorative

and industrial pigments continues

to be high,” says Ciba’s

Winkelbeiner. “There is high

demand in some regions for

high-performance, scratch-resistant

pigments for


24 ICIS Chemical Business Americas | January 22-28, 2007 | www.icis.com/publications

Industrial specialties: lindsey.blanchfield@icis.com Page 22_Commodities Page 24_Industrial specialties Page 26_Consumer specialties Page 27_Oils

motive coatings, for example,

and there is growing demand

for numerous different effect


Visual appeal is playing an

increasingly important role in

“Classic organics

are the class having

the toughest time”

Ray Will, senior consultant, SRI Consulting

end product differentiation,

according to Winkelbeiner.

New chemistries have made

it possible for paint, ink and

plastics manufacturers to enter

new shade and application

areas inaccessible in the past.


Environmental considerations

have become top priority for

most companies and the

pigment industry is

catering to

these needs with a focus on

“cool” products.

BASF has introduced new

NIR-transparent black pigments

that cut the solar heat

buildup from sunlight in half,

the company says. In addition,

the black pigments offer

excellent heat resistance, color

strength and migration stability,

as well as extreme resistance to

chemical and physical effects.

Similarly, Ferro’s high

infrared reflecting Eclipse and

Cool Colors lines are used to

lower heat build-up and reduce

energy consumption in a number

of exterior coatings and

plastics applications.

“Our infrared materials

market is robust, healthy and

growing,” says James Kirsch,

chairman, president and CEO

of Ferro. “It’s really driven, in

part, by the energy conservation

issues and opportunities, in

terms of heating and cooling. It

has resonated well in the marketplace

and with the customer

base in terms of helping them

differentiate in their markets.”

Ferro’s pigments, which are

available in a wide variety of

colors, reflect much of the solar

heat and keep the items pigmented

with them cooler.

Along with the cooling effect

come other potential benefits,

such as less expansion and contraction,

lower air conditioning

bills, increased service life,

less product degradation and

improved comfort levels

for building


Solar reflectance – the percentage

of the sun’s incident

radiation that a material’s

surface reflects – is an indicator

of how cool a roof will be.

The higher the solar reflectance

of the material, the cooler the

roof, according to the California

Energy Commission.

The Shepherd Color

Company’s Arctic pigments

also reflect infrared light. As

a result, color shades utilizing

a combination of Arctic pigments

will exhibit greater Total

Solar Reflectance than the

exact same color made with

conventional pigments.

Arctic pigments counteract

solar-induced heat build-up


The next time you pick up your

shiny laptop or glance at the

cover of a scintillating bestselling

mystery book, you may be looking

at products enhanced with metal

effect pigments.

Metal effect pigments provide

beautiful appearances in print, as

well as in paints and coatings, SRI

Consulting’s Will says. Recently,

most of the desktop and laptop

computers have featured kind of a

shimmering or completely metalliclike

finish. Will says many bestselling

soft-cover books use it, as well

as greeting cards and chocolate

boxes. In high-performance paints,

aluminum pigments are used in

and provide the reflectivity

requirements for a cool roof.

Some of the cool-colored

roofing products may eventually

qualify as cool roofs in

the California building energy

code. A cool roof decreases a

building’s cooling load. The

US Department of Energy has

found the energy savings provided

by a reflective roof

so significant that they have

made roofing a part of its

EnergyStar program. To

qualify for compliance credit

as a cool roof under the new

code, a roofing product must

have a minimum initial solar

reflectance of 70%, with some


Consumers demand a metallic feel

automotive metallic effects.

New chemistries have led to

the development of pigments with

different color effects, such as

sparkle, pearlescence, liquid metal

effects and combinations of these,

Ciba’s Winkelbeiner says.

In late August 2006, Ciba

Specialty Chemicals acquired a

majority share in the company

MetalFX, creator of a print concept

that allows thousands of metallic

effects to be produced accurately

in one run on a five-color press.

MetalFX produces metallic

shade reference books and special

kits to help designers incorporate

metallic shades in their designs.


www.icis.com/publications | January 22-28, 2007 | ICIS Chemical Business Americas 25

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