Interview: “Additives need to be highly versatile”
How would you describe the current situation on the market?
Dr Gaetano Blanda: The first half of 2020 was a very challenging market environment and dynamic, and hit some key industries hard, such as automotive. From the second half on, especially in Q4 2020, soft signs of recovery started to emerge. All in all, we estimated that the global additives market shrank by around 4%. Despite positive momentum and the signs of recovery, there is a lot of uncertainty in the market.
Nevertheless, we in the Business Line Coating Additives at Evonik are optimistic for 2021. We did our homework for 2021 by focusing on customer intimacy, innovation and digital transformation. The major challenge for 2021 will be availability of raw materials, packaging and shipping capacity.
Which technical trends will influence the market in the next few years?
Blanda: One of the largest and most crucial drivers of innovation and change in the coatings and inks industry is sustainability. There is a strong focus on regulatory aspects, bio-based raw materials and life cycle analysis. Numerous new raw materials are being launched and formulated. There is therefore a need for the right additives that comply with numerous regulations, eco-labels and/or do not pose any risk when in contact with food.
Also in focus are additives and co-binders that have a high content of biorenewables. And last but not least, new tailored additives are needed that facilitate the use of this new generation of coatings and inks raw materials.
What is the current status of multi-functional additives and do you see potential here?
Blanda: Another strong trend in the coatings and inks industry is the streamlining of raw materials. Large companies are striving to reduce complexity and thus lower the number of raw materials employed. Additives need to be highly versatile. Ideally, one additive will provide several desired effects at the same time (e.g. foam prevention, flow, and substrate wetting). Such multifunctional additives will gain even more importance in the years to come.