Aviation nanocoatings are on the rise, but the industry may want to keep an eye over its shoulder: Emerging surface technologies are gaining.
“Nanocoating is facing competition from other emerging surface technologies,” concludes a new report by the global research firm Frost & Sullivan, whose target markets include the aerospace, defense, transportation, chemical, energy and industrial automation industries.
“For instance,” the report says, “in addressing the de-icing challenge, nanostructured tooling and new superhydrophobic surfaces have been developed, negating the need for coatings. Coatings last for a lesser time and might peel off.”
|Aerospace coatings, like those made by AkzoNobel, reach the market more quickly than new surface technologies, researchers say.|
Although the report, Nanocoatings for Aerospace Applications, focuses on aerospace coatings, recent research in other fields—steel for bridges, for example—suggests that other protective coatings markets face similar challenges.
Just this month, two different manufacturers reported the development of new steel materials that are purportedly more corrosion-resistant than conventional steel and less in need of protective coatings.
The good news: Aviation nanocoatings have been increasing in the last five years, driven largely by global technology research initiatives by the defense and space industries. Most of that development has been underwritten by the U.S. and Canadian governments.
A faster track to market also gives current aerospace nanocoatings an edge over surface technologies, Frost & Sullivan reports. “This is because the products have to be tested at high altitudes and the actual scenario is different from test labs,” the report says.
Collaborative research by coatings companies, material manufacturers, universities and end-user markets has also accelerated nanocoating development.
Future growth of the industry is unknown, however, and “depends largely on regulatory factors associated with nanoparticles,” says the report. The nanotechnology industry has exploded generally away from regulatory oversight, but that may well change as more research uncovers the full impact of the nanomaterials world.
“Changing regulations resulting from studies on safety effects of nanoparticles could occur, affecting the nanocoating industry,” according to Frost & Sullivan.
Future Bright for Performance Pigments
Nano-based or not, worldwide high-performance pigment consumption is on a strong growth trajectory, expected to reach 193,124 tons (US) by 2015, according to a new study by IntertechPira, an Akron, OH-based research firm.
The company predicts solid growth for HPP in the near future, despite growing competition, soaring oil and raw materials prices, and the uncertain global economic climate.
The Future of High Performance Pigments III – Market Forecasts to 2015 predicts average global growth for HPPs in excess of 4% for both volume and value, due largely to increasing demand for cleaner, brighter colors with high resistance properties.
Most of that pigment (55.8 percent of the total market) is destined for coatings, with 107,916 tons expected to be sold for coatings by 2015.
Asia is the largest regional pigment market by sales value, with total 2015 sales forecast at $1.64 billion. China is also the world’s biggest pigment producer and exporter. China’s coatings industry, which consumes half of its domestically produced pigment, “is experiencing output growth of 20% year on year,” IntertechPira reports.
IPPIC Publishes 2nd Market Analysis
Overall, the global coatings market remains volatile, according to the International Paint and Printing Ink Council’s second Global Paint & Coatings Industry Market Analysis Report, which covers 2009-2014. Compiled by researchers at Orr & Boss, the IPPIC report covers the three primary coatings categories—Decorative, OEM and Special Purpose —and their many sub-segments.
“The recent recession has caused significant disruption in the global coatings market,” IPPIC reports. “Some regions and segments of the industry have suffered major declines, and some end-use market segments have undergone considerable regional shifts.
“As a result, many coatings industry participants have had to adjust their short- to mid-term operating practices and marketing strategies …while some companies have been forced into survival mode.”