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May 3, 2024

Resins Update | Coatings World

Coatings World interviewed some of the top resin suppliers to the paint and coatings industry: Eric Dumain, Global Marketing Director for Coating Resins at Arkema; Jon Remissong, Commercial Director, EPS; Maria Nargiello, Director of Applied Research & Technology for Industrial & Transportation Coatings, Americas, Evonik; Francisco Cortes, Head of Applied Research & Technology for General Industrial Coatings, Americas, Evonik; Rebecca Lonczak; Marketing Manager, Keyland Polymer Material Sciences; Diana Liu, Product Manager, Lorama Group; Jake Jevric, Corporate VP, Lorama Group Inc.; Markus Bieber, Sales & Marketing Leader, Mallard Creek Polymers (MCP); Robert Ruckle, Global Marketing and Sales Director, Siltech; and Hemant Shah, Business Director, VINAVIL Americas.

CW: How did the resins market fare in 2021?

Arkema: Initially, 2021 felt like an extension of the previous year, with continued market recovery aided by improving employment rates and increasing consumer discretionary spending. These positive developments were tempered by external events such as Winter Storm Uri and Hurricane Ida, which severely strained the chemical industry. Logistics capacity was also a challenge that limited the full potential growth of architectural and industrial coatings markets. On balance, growth was strong relative to the last decade, with the realization that there is still upside if the operational environment improves.

EPS: Demand for resins continued to be strong in 2021, but the mid-February freeze in Texas, Hurricane Ida, and numerous unforeseen supply chain issues caused raw materials shortages, making it complicated for manufacturers to respond to that demand.

Evonik: Evonik’s Coatings Additives business has resin offerings mainly focused to high heat silicone and silicone hybrid markets for use across general industrial/protective and cook-/bakeware where food compliance is required. The year 2021 saw very strong market demand as high heat resistance coupled with high durability were – and continue to be – big performance drivers. Food- and cookware-compliant binders – such as our silicone polyester hybrids SILIKOFTAL HTT, HTL 2 and HTL 3, with their varied silicone content driving increased heat resistance – were also in high demand. There is a strong market pull for the silicone epoxy hybrid binder SILIKOPON EF. This specialty binder demonstrates excellent weathering and corrosion resistance along with having a very high co-binder compatibility to be blended into existing formulations to extend and expand the life cycle of classic epoxy formulations. Lastly, high heat resistance (>400C) phenyl/methyl silicone binders such as SILIKOPHEN AC 900 and P 80/X continue to have very strong demand as applications for both ambient- and oven-cured coating solutions are increasing.

Keyland Polymer: The resin market has been experiencing an increase in both lead time and cost of raw materials. We have seen about an increase of 14% in raw materials.

Lorama: For Lorama’s Bio-Based resins, we are in a unique position where we do not face the same inflationary pressures as those seen by the petroleum-based resins and latex systems. However, we all sadly face the same inflationary and supply pressures with respect to logistics, pressures which continue to challenge the entire industry.

MCP: The polymer market was very challenging in 2021. With tight supply on many key raw materials as well as industry capacity limitations, many customers were looking for alternative sources for their polymers or even alternative chemistries.

Vinavil: The market grew with high demands from every sector, including paints, high-performance coatings, adhesives, construction etc. It was difficult to keep up with orders as supply chain issues continued to escalate through out 2021. The issues with raw material shortages and with transportation for in-bound and out-bound materials kept occurring and forced us to implement few prices increases last year. This scenario affected almost every player in the specialty chemicals market with erosion of margins. The demand remains high; however, and we get calls from many known and unknown customers asking for alternate material supplies as they are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their demands

CW: How did your company continue to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 on business?

Arkema: As always, employee safety was (and is) top of mind. The previous year, we had to adjust to new ways of doing business, with new protocols in our manufacturing and R&D assets aligned with reducing potential exposure. As a result, we were able to safely keep our factories running and, due to some hard work from our employees, address customer supply issues with a more strategic approach.

2021 also became the year we – and many others – truly went digital, with new and creative ways to work both internally and with customers. In the fourth quarter, we started to see a partial return to what we once called “normal.” This has led to a more hybrid model where we are still leaning heavily on digital tools such as virtual meeting spaces, webinars, video production, etc, while starting to get out of our homes to visit both coworkers and customers. The past two years have taught us a lot of lessons that have likely changed how we do business forever.

EPS: We extended some of the COVID-19 mitigation protocols that we implemented in 2020, such as having people work remotely. Our labs had the challenge of implementing staggered schedules to allow for social distancing while keeping up with the workload, and we had to expand production hours to allow for protective measures to be implemented.

Some customers had their employees return to in-person work in 2021 but were not receiving visitors, so we continued to schedule remote sales calls and technical reviews.

In the middle of supply chain disruptions and the shortage of drivers, our priority was to get products to our customers when they needed them. In some cases this meant we had to air freight raw materials while working with our vendors to ensure the security of supply.

Keyland Polymer: Keyland Polymer navigated the pandemic by focusing on continuous open communication, both with our customers as well as internally with our employees. The way we all do business was a challenge during the pandemic but we stayed true to our belief of focusing on our employees and our customers.

Lorama: Having deep logistical expertise and a diverse and loyal supplier base allowed Lorama to mitigate much of the logistical COVID-19 challenges. The ability to secure raw material supply and ship finished product was a key strategic advantage.

Access to our technical support (that otherwise requires on-site visits) was also migrated through a diverse set of electronic tools. Lastly for our offices, a diverse set of best in practice cleaning methods as well as divisional silo’s were established to both reduce the possibility of COVID contraction as well as its ability to spread. These methods showed fantastic results in our ability to mitigate all the threats to our business that COVID posed, especially in the very early days of this pandemic.

MCP: Mallard Creek Polymers(MCP) continued to follow the protocols and guidelines as set by local governing authorities.

Siltech: For us at Siltech, demand was up significantly but the supply chain was an issue. It started with the silicone portion, which was attributed to many factors all hitting at once, and ended 2021 with problems obtaining the organic components as well.

In some cases we were unable to purchase the raw materials we needed to make our products in a timely manner. We realized that we could best mitigate this supply volatility by going to a 24/7 work schedule and are implementing that in Q2 2022.

Vinavil: With the pandemic hitting everyone hard around the world, our management was faced with the challenges that confronted all businesses — keeping the business running while first keeping employees safe. Our biggest challenge was the on-boarding of a new business development manager, as well as a brand new distributor who was to take on a much larger role representing large portion of our US territory. Considering strict travel restrictions, we started the training process through Go-To meeting, Teams, and eventually, Zoom. We were pleasantly surprised when these efforts also paid very handsome rewards with new sales, increased market penetration, and customer satisfaction as we used the “training” technology in order to be in front of customers to connect and continue the business efficiently without spending on travel.

We also established an Emergency Management Committee to inform employees of changing rules and regulations during the pandemic. This safeguarded the interests of our employees, customers, and suppliers through policies such as work from home, hybrid work, restriction of visits to plants, offices and customers and travels etc.

CW: What are some of the demands customers are making on their resin suppliers (increased performance, lower cost, etc.)?

Arkema: It’s hard to discuss the industry now without calling attention to the feedstock supply issues practically every company experienced this past year. This led to some difficult conversations, but – at the same time – resulted in stronger relationships between raw material producers and formulators. In some instances, this extended to the R&D and product development levels where product experts worked together to find substitutions for the more constrained products.

In the fourth quarter, as customer meetings and even tradeshows began to become part of our lives again, sustainability became a common theme across almost every meeting we had. There is a real drive in the industry today to achieve greater performance with the smallest possible environmental footprint.

EPS: Customers look for lower or near zero VOC resins like EPS 2799 that achieve the same level of performance as higher VOC resins and can be formulated in near-zero VOC paints with exceptional dirt pickup resistance, gloss retention and durability.

Customers are also looking for broad utility resins. They want products that allow for increased flexibility, which they can use to formulate coatings in different segments and coatings lines.

Demand is also shifting towards products with no added PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). These chemicals add weatherproofing, block resistance, water resistance, and other benefits to coatings, but customers increasingly are looking for the same performance from products with no added PFAS.

Lorama: We continue to see a continuous growth for bio-based and bio containing additives and resins. The desire for a circular economy continues to grow, especially with resins and binders that offer specific functionality for niche applications.

MCP: Customers are always looking for the best value from their polymer suppliers. This includes relationships, performance as well as cost. In addition, new technological advancements are always on the forefront of our efforts across our chemistries.

MCP works very hard to provide this value to our customers and this has been a key factor in our long term success.

Siltech: For many, sustainability has gone from something talked about as a “nice to have” to a “need.”

Vinavil: Not surprisingly, most customers are demanding to keep up with their needs, or have even increased their needs for, resins during the pandemic. With shortages in monomers, surfactants, biocides, titanium dioxide, and other chemicals, most of the customers challenged their Research & Development (R&D) and Technical departments to find alternate raw materials to manufacture their products. Many of the R&D projects were put on back burner in order to prioritize the immediate need of finding replacement materials.

CW: What are some of the latest sustainable technologies your company has launched?

Arkema: Arkema approaches sustainable product development with four primary goals in mind:

Reducing Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). Recent technological advances at Arkema have focused on new low-VOC capable resins for decorative paints, nonisocyanate (NISO) products for industrial coatings and more.

Increasing the use of alternative feedstocks. Our research and development efforts here focus on bio-based/bio-circular and recycled/reused (“upcycled”) materials in coatings. We have multiple new products made from bio-based feedstocks, several of which have been approved to carry the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Biobased Product label.

Improving energy efficiency throughout the coatings value chain. Our product development here includes new ultra-low temperature cure powder coating resins and new waterborne acrylics for cool roof coatings.

Improving the performance and life of applied coatings. Arkema is continually investing in technologies and products that enhance the lifecycle of the finished coating while potentially reducing HAPs and energy usage. Examples include resins for single component (monocoat) direct to metal coatings requiring UV durability, corrosion resistance and/or hardness.

EPS: Our proprietary dirt pickup resistance and bleed blocking technologies for cool roof coatings may con-tribute to keeping cool roofs clean and white, maintaining their long-term efficiency in energy use. The reduced temperature fluctuation and resulting minimized thermal stress can also prolong the service life of roofs. These technologies are what make EPS 2719 an exceptional choice for roof coatings formulations.

Evonik: Improving environmental and regulatory friendliness has driven binder developments towards HAPs-free and water-based alternatives to established silicone binder benchmarks. SILIKOFTAL HTW 3 was introduced into the water-based silicone polyester cook- and bakeware market as a high-temperature alternatives to solvent-based counterparts. SILIKOPHEN 80 / MPA (in methoxypropyl acetate) was introduced in 2022 as a HAPS-free, high-temperature alternative to high-temperature silicone benchmark P 80/X (in xylene).

Additionally, a novel hardener TEGO Cure 100 for ambient curing silicone binders and epoxy-silicone hybrids was launched, following the trends of lower energy consumption during curing cycles and increasing even further the durability of such systems.

Keyland Polymers: Keyland Polymer is currently evaluating bio-based chemical components for UV cured solid resins.

Lorama: In addition to our existing portfolio of bio resins and bio containing liquid colorants, we have launched the LWD 100 bio based additive/resin for water-based wood stains. LWD 100 helps to mitigate the common effects of grain raising and stain lapping that can plague low and zero VOC wood stains.

Siltech: We are introducing a series of silicone coatings additives in which the organic portion, which was sourced from petroleum, is now sourced from corn and sugar. This Silsurf -bio line performs like the petroleum-based predecessors but are sustainable. Having a second supply chain doesn’t hurt the supply options either.

Vinavil: Our R&D team’s focus is to develop more sustainable offerings for our product lines. We have developed Nano technology-based polymer emulsions for wood coatings, direct-to-metal, and concrete coating markets. Our products are water-based and could replace many currently used solvent-based product formulations for such applications. We have developed formaldehyde-free adhesives for wood, polymers for paints and coatings with low VOC paint formulations for improved indoor air quality.

We are also working with collaborators in industry to develop products that could be used to reduce usage of petroleum-based products.

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