Powder coatings can be described as an ambivalent technology. On the one hand there are great benefits, on the other hand there are some hurdles. We spoke with industry experts about current trends and the future of this fascinating technology.
When asking experts about the main challenge for powder coating producers at the moment, the answer is always the same. For example, Daniela Vlad of Akzo Nobel says: “In the short term, thepowder coatings industry, like many other industries dependent on raw materials, has witnessed increased costs of raw materials as well as increasing challenges securing supply.” Ram Ramnath of Jotun also states: “The industry has seen the cost of raw material of powder coatings increase by 25% in the last 12 months. Therefore, the biggest focus those days in the industry is to pass the cost increase down the value chain.” Pekka Paronen of Teknos also adds: “Overcapacity of powders in the European market keeps prices down.”
Hurdles for future growth of powders
However, the relatively low prices are not automatically enough to drive customers towardspowder coatings, thus keeping it in the niche. “While the market has grown and continues to grow significantly, the installed base of liquid infrastructure in big liquid applicators can sometimes require notable investment to move to a friendlier technology like powder and this can sometimes slow progress”, says Vlad of Akzo Nobel.
Paronen underlines: “I wouldn´t say that they are still in a niche. Many GI customers have switched to powder coatings partly due to getting rid of VOC emissions.” The same goes for Ramnath of Jotun. “It is however true, that it is a very fragmented market with many different applications and specific needs. That fragmentation may explain this wrong perception.”
He also adds, that “90 % of powder is still on ‘thin’ metal substrates.” Daniela Vlad agrees: “Powder still has some limitations and challenges to overcome such as the size of the object to be coated, factory application and application on non-conductive or thermally sensitive substrates.” Pekka Paronen agrees and says “the most restrictive factor is the size of the painted object, in theory you can build as big oven as you want, but in real life it is not economically reasonable.”
For future development, the experts are optimistic. “Powder coatings stand on the threshold of exciting new breakthroughs – not only displacing the old technologies but also opening new frontiers by being able to coat thick steel components and even non-metal substrates”, says Ramnath and ads some examples like the replacement of harmful finishing technologies such as chrome plating and anodizing or coating of substrates such as engineered wood, wood, composites and plastics.
“Digitalization is visible also in the powder coatings industry”, adds Daniela Vlad and explains: “Digital tools bring powder coatings closer to the end-users, making the decision process easier. Color digitalization and digital tools are a key area of development, and AkzoNobel has rolled out a number of digital apps across different market segments.”
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