Highlights from CHINACOAT 2012
SpecialChem | Terence Kenneth - Dec 19, 2012
UV Developments in Asia
Resins and Adhesives
CHINACOAT 2012 opened under an unseasonably cool November day. But inside the halls of the Guangzhou Int'l Convention and Exhibition Center, Pazhou Complex, the damp, overcast morning was replaced by an unceasing thrum of energy and excitement.
For three days at the end of November, well over a 1000 exhibitors from over 31 countries and regions showcased their products to the coatings and inks industry. And in addition to all this, several seminars, Technical presentations and workshops provided the attendees with numerous opportunities to learn about the latest innovations and product offerings. Some of those interactive platforms discussed the latest developments in sustainable coatings technology, bio-based products and presentations were made on the optimization of coatings, coatings analysis, and the properties of water based polymers and coatings for industrial, architectural and automotive/aerospace applications. Such a lot to cram into only three days!
Several of the exhibitors were gracious enough to take time out of their hectic schedules to talk with me about the Chinese and Asian markets and discuss some of their product lines and how they see the future of the coatings industry in the region.
UV Developments in Asia
In the area of UV development, Sartomer is well placed to deliver much of what the industry is looking for. I spoke with Mr. Tony Wong, Market Development Manager for Asia Pacific, to get his feedback and insight into what's going on.
"There has always been a lot of interest in UV in both Europe and the USA for inks and coatings applications, but in Asia we are seeing a growing interest in UV coatings for the electronics market and we only expect this to grow," Tony explained.
"Much of the drivers for UV technologies has been the need to be environmentally aware. UV is 100% reactable with no VOCs, so we are in a good position to deliver products that are green," Tony added.
In Asia and China specifically, UV conformal coatings are being applied to printed circuit boards to offer protection and to improve circuit reliability in harsh environments, and there are a number of decorative applications for products like name plates, key chains and novelty items. UV is definitely here to stay and it's going to be interesting to see how it fairs against solvent and water technologies in the coming years.
There were a lot of companies in attendance at Chinacoat who are supplying additives, but one of those that stands out was Patcham; a company that is supplying additives into both the solvent and water based markets. Their portfolio includes wetting and dispersing additives for waterborne and solvent borne systems, defoamers and de-airing additives, slip and leveling additives and rheology modifiers. They are also one of only a few companies offering water based driers based on metal carboxylates for air-drying paints. General Manager, Kaviesh Kripalani and Senior Consultant, Johan Bieleman sat down with me to discuss a few products from their additives lines and talked about how the company is well situated with manufacturing in the UAE and several technical service laboratories strategically placed in the UAE, The Netherlands, USA and India.
"This geographical placement gives us a distinct advantage in that we can respond to our customers no matter where they are situated," Mr. Kripalani remarked. "We are offering sustainable raw materials which are APEO free as well as low or no VOC products to meet the demands of the industry. Our location in the UAE also gives us an advantage in that we can source raw materials from all parts of the world. For us this means that materials are easily and equally accessible."
Johan Bieleman has been working in the coating industry for more than 35 years. And after holding senior positions in the R&D and marketing departments for companies such as Servo-Delden BV / Elementis Specialties, Ciba/ EFKA, and CP Kelco, he knows what he's talking about when it comes to coatings technologies.
"Globalization is making much of the formulations the same from region to region, so one way we can distinguish ourselves from our competition is by meeting their needs for greener products and through our focus on environmental sustainability," added Mr. Bieleman.
DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts is another company that is actively serving markets in agriculture, nutrition, electronics and communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation and apparel. Charlene Guo talked to me about the company's focus and how she sees the current market in China.
"Sustainability is at the core of what we do - from reducing our operational footprint, to developing renewable materials and safer products, to collaborating with others to create sustainable solutions. Our world is changing. The demographic shifts - about 150,000 more people on the planet each day - will increase urban growth and continue to place pressure on natural resources to feed the world, meet the growing energy demands and keep people and the environment safe in a sustainable way. We recognize the value of long-term sustainable solutions to address the challenges. Around the world, we are working collaboratively to deliver scientific innovations and solutions along our value chains, with academics, governments, other companies and organizations," says Ms. Guo.
When asked about the current state of the economy in China, Ms. Guo added, "The economy growth of the Chinese market has slowed down. DuPont already changed (its) strategy from a science company to a market driven company. It means DuPont will focus on customer needs and market trends to provide value or solutions or new products to satisfy end users."
I also asked Charlene how the Chinese market has changed over the years. She responded by saying, "Competition is increasingly tough from multinational companies and local companies. There are many new suppliers in the Chinese market in recent years for coating industry and these suppliers teach their paint chemists well, so that they not only know your products but also know your competitor products."
Resins and Adhesives
Beijing Comens is a leading Chinese manufacturer of polyurethane adhesives and resins. Based in Beijing, they have a production capacity of 25000 MT and expect to double this by 2015. Their product range includes solvent, water and solventless adhesives, using polyester, urethane and acrylic technology. They serve both the coatings and graphic arts markets. Managing Director Ziping Wang and Import Export Manager, Brighter Zhang explained to me that on the adhesives side they are seeing more and more interest in moving away from traditional solvent based products and switching to solvent-less and water borne adhesives, particularly for food packaging. These have been refined over the years and their solvent-free adhesives now offer high bond strengths, low working temperatures - saving energy, long pot life, fast machine speeds and low coating weight and no solvent retention.
On the water based side, they offer two types of adhesives - one to replace traditional solvent based laminating adhesive, which is a ready-to-use product with good heat, chemical and water resistance. The other product is used on the paper and board side for paper to BOPP or paper to PET laminations.
The solvent based Polyurethane resins are still key for applications like retort laminations, and Comens' GM8208 and GM9008 are toluene and MEK-free resins which are non-yellowing, with excellent heat and chemical resistance and which can also be used for pigment grinding. For general purpose lamination work, their GM9124 is a workhorse product.
It was clear from the turnout at Chinacoat 2012 that "sustainable" and "green" technology is ever present in most people's minds, and that manufacturers are making an effort to respond to this awareness. What is also clear is that as citizens of this planet, we in the coatings community have to be educated and have clear definitions of what "sustainable" really means and how we determine and qualify what "bio-based" products are. It's a potentially muddy road ahead, but by knowing what to look for, we can begin to lift the veil an important subject and in doing so become empowered in the process.