High Performance Pigments

By Kerry Pianoforte, Ink World Associate Editor | 08.09.06

As a result of their outstanding performance, high performance pigments are being used in many new applications, and remain a bright spot for pigment manufacturers.

The high performance pigment (HPP) market once again remains one of the brighter spots for pigment manufacturers. The pigment manufacturers Ink World spoke with cited modest growth estimated to be in the 3 percent to 4 percent range.
Valued for their improved characteristics, HPP are used in areas where durability is important.

Photo courtesy of Clariant.

“Overall the 2005 HPP market performed quite well, better than the ink market as a whole,” said David Woolven, head, imaging and inks business line NAFTA, coating effects segment, Ciba Specialty Chemicals. “The market for this type of pigment grows steadily, as applications become more demanding in both performance and environmental impact, and users look for solutions, which have a wider area of application.”
Much as is the case in the overall pigment market, HPPs did face pricing pressure.
“The high performance pigments market increased in 2005 only by volume since prices dropped very much,” said Bernhard Ehrenreich, head of marketing printing business, Clariant, International Ltd.
In addition to pricing pressures, foreign competition is another issue that is impacting the HPP market in a variety of ways.
“More and more non-traditional Asian pigment competitors are entering this market,” said Mr. Ehrenreich. “This leads to tough price erosion and brings even these specialties into the commodity corner.”
Although foreign competition does pose a threat, HPP customers are heeding the old adage “you get what you pay for.”
According to Maurice Carruthers,  general manager–merchant ink business unit, Sun Chemical Corp. Performance Pigments, the HPP segment of the market has not yet been as severely impacted as the traditional pigment market.
“Foreign competition is impacting the HPP market is some lower-end application areas. However, in areas where product purity, quality consistency and regulatory compliance is an issue, Ciba Specialty Chemical’s HPP business continues to grow,” said Mr. Woolven.

High Expectations

Customers who purchase high performance pigments expect outstanding characteristics including high lightfastness, high heat stability and low solubility.
“The excellent thermal stability and resistance properties enable them to function and provide desired color match where conventional pigments fail,” said Don McBride, chief operating officer for Heucotech Ltd.
Mr. Woolven said that typical properties of Ciba Specialty Chemical’s high performance pigments include high lightfastness, high weatherfastness, fastness to chemical exposure in the end application, high stability to heat, low solubility in application systems and low migration.
Our dry colors offer ease of dispersion along with excellent light stability,” noted Mr. Carruthers. “Our line of dispersions for UV offset and UV flexo are unique in the market.”
Suppliers of these types of pigments are constantly being challenged to keep up with these demands.
“We offer nearly all kinds of organic high performance pigments, like quinacridones, DPP, carbazoles, high performance azo pigments, as well as special ultra pure pigments,” said Mr. Ehrenreich. “This is an area where Clariant still invests a lot of resources and money for innovation on one hand, but also optimizes processes and production costs, in order to secure the future from an economical point of view, on the other hand.”
Heubach continues to work on expanding its color palette to the ink, coatings and and plastic industries, according to Mr. McBride.
“Extensive developments are ongoing in the following areas: bismuth vanadate, quinacridone, indanthrone and naphthols,” said Mr. McBride. “We have work commenced in other strategic areas that will be made public in the near future.”

Key Markets

HPPs are used in a wide variety of graphic arts applications for both indoor and outdoor use. While the key market for HPPs is for outdoor use, these pigments can also be used in indoor applications where light permanence is necessary.
“The key ink markets for HPPs are for outdoor use, such as signs, decals for transportation, fertilizer bags and filling station forecourt items or indoor applications where some extra degree of light permanence is necessary, such as wall and floor coverings,” said Mr. Woolven. “All printing processes use high performance pigments to some extent, though the participation of offset use is much lower than for overall printing–the usual substrate, paper, is often limiting the end application.
“A significant and growing use for these pigments, and easily dispersible forms of them, is in wide format inkjet inks for outdoor signage, decals and advertising,” Mr. Woolven added. “These are often replacing screen inks in such applications. Flexo printing is used for fertilizer bags. Gravure printing is common for wall and floor coverings. Offset printing is used for special high-end applications which may require chemical resistance or lack of migration, mainly in labels, or where the substrate is not paper–certain credit cards or metal decoration.
According to Mr. Carruthers, the major markets for HPPs include digital inks, screen inks, narrow web label inks, UV overcoat inks and conventional inks that require good light stability.
“Key ink markets are sheetfed inks, packaging inks, metal deco inks, security inks, inkjet inks and inks for decorative laminates,” Mr. Ehrenreich added.

New HPP Products

In order to meet rising demand for high performance pigments (HPP), suppliers have developed a number of new products for the market. For example, Sun Chemical’s latest offering is color competitive CI Red 254-Fastogen Super Red 254, while Clariant recently launched a complete range of DPP pigments and is also introducing a new PY150.
Heubach has introduced Heuco Yellow 118303 as the newest expansion of the organic pigment portfolio.  This new brilliant Pigment Yellow 183 is manufactured at Heubach's newest facility in India, EUSA Pigments PVT. LTD.  Vanadur Yellow 1010  has also been introduced as a high performance inorganic yellow.  This pigment Yellow 184 is produced in Germany by Heubach GmbH.
“Over the past year we have introduced several new high performance products for inks,” noted Mr. Woolven. Ciba Specialty Chemical’s high performance pigments for digital printing include Ciba Cromophtal Jet Cyan GLX for use in water-based ink jet inks, for SOHO and wide-format applications and Ciba Cromophtal Jet Magenta 2BC, a yellow-shade magenta QA pigment for use in water-based inkjet inks for SOHO and wide format applications. Additional uses are solvent-based inks for wide and grand format applications (e.g. outdoor billboards, display and banners). Ciba Cromphtal Yellow LA2 is used for UV-based and solvent-based inkjet ink applications including outdoor banners, mainly printed solvent-based and for UV printed outdoor and decoration applications.

Other new HPPs include Ciba Irgazin Yellow 2088, a high value benzimidazalone yellow for use in UV- and solvent-based screen ink applications and Ciba Irgazin Magenta 2012, an ultra pure magenta with high color strength.

HPPs Make Inroads

As a result of their superior properties, HPPs continue to make inroads into new applications.
“High performance pigments are rapidly replacing metal complex pigments in UV overcoat inks because of their superior properties, including bleed resistance,” said Mr. Carruthers. “Their use is also growing in unison with the digital ink market.”
According to Mr. Woolven, high performance pigments are making inroads into security and branding and other demanding applications due to their unique properties.
“In the printing area we cannot see an inroads into new applications,” said Mr. Ehrenreich. “There is just a kind of substitution process ongoing, where HPPs substitute other pigments due to the fact HPP prices dropped dramatically and combine higher competitiveness with much higher fastness properties.”
As demand for HPP continues, the future remains bright, although manufacturers are keeping a cautious eye on the impact of lowering prices and  margins.
“High performance pigments will continue to grow at a faster rate than conventional pigments because of the superior properties they offer,” said Mr. Carruthers.
“Three key forces drive increased HPP use-environmental impact, performance guarantee and cost changes,” said Mr. Woolven. “As mixing schemes become more common, HPPs offer a performance level which allows their use over a wide variety of end uses. As the market size grows, prices become lower as costs are driven down, and they replace lower performing products. The future of HPP remains bright.”

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