Powder coatings market: continuous appeal

Even conservative estimates of potential growth stated a year ago require considerable adjustment in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The European powder coatings market saw moderate improvement once the first lockdowns were lifted but the second wave of restrictions mean manufacturers are, at most, cautious in any predictions of recovery over the next few months.

Powder coating application
Initial predictions suggest gradual recovery with stronger performance in the Asia-Pacific region. Source: eyeseedesigns - stock.adobe.com

As with many markets, the impact of the pandemic means short-term predictions are for a decline. On the long-term predictions are more positive. José Bottino, at market research company IRL, estimates the consumption of powder to be 2.35 million metric tonnes in 2020, with powder accounting for 10.7 % of the industrial coatings market. IRL has researched the different industrial coatings market over the course of 2020 and expects this market as a whole to decline by over 6 %. The extent varies according to region with “Asia-Pacific and especially China, expected to perform much better than others, which are experiencing close to double digit declines in demand”.

Key markets start to recover

Automotive OEM refinishes and automotive plastic parts are predicted to be the markets suffering the largest declines, with coil and extrusion and general finishes also suffering double-digit declines according to Bottino. Of course, the different coatings markets differ substantially according to the type of coating, region, and country.

Rob Watson, Global Marketing/Business Development at Allnex, provides his insights into this year’s events: “A number of powder coating end markets are closely linked to the construction industry: aluminium extrusions for windows, doors, curtain walls for example, as well as heavy construction vehicles. […] The construction site impact has been temporary as those associated markets start to recover and bounce back.”

By 2024, we will see a market recovery and IRL expects powder to then account for over 13 % of the industrial coatings market. Powder sales are expected to grow across all regions over the next five years. The share of sales in the Asia-Pacific region will be at the expense of all other regions, with Europe’s market share dropping from 24.75 % to 22.96 %.

In terms of end use, the main increases in volume are anticipated to be in the domestic appliances and consumer electronics and coil and extrusion applications, which are predicted to rise in volume from approx. 557 to 698 thousand metric tonnes.

Low-temperature cure a growth driver

Rob Watson explains that lower temperature curing options address energy saving needs and open the opportunity for application on to thermally sensitive substrates. It continues to be an important driver and can help powder coatings “further penetrate market segments which are, today, dominated by other coating technologies. Typically, applications onto wood and wood-like (e.g. MDF) substrates that are used for furniture and kitchen cabinetry.”

Further developments in the powder coatings market come from two directions: Watson explains the need to target “unmet or improve numerous coating performance targets. For example, improvements in flow, edge coverage and corrosion resistance to align closer to the performance of liquid technologies. On the other side, there is the requirement for affordable and reliable products without sacrificing overall technical performance.”

Regulatory impact

Recent regulations have led to the reclassification of some crosslinking agents, which will drive reformulation and new architectural standards for the Chinese market will also drive development to attain the specified performance. “There is also a focus on identifying the use of sustainable raw materials and eliminating materials of concern, which will further underpin the green credentials of powder coatings.”

Regulatory restrictions, behavioural shifts triggered by the events of the year, and a focus on sustainability should ensure those in the powder coatings market can remain cautiously optimistic.

Further information

This article is a shortened version. The full article with more details and graphics is available at our online library European Coatings 360°.

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