Photo courtesy of Flint Group Pigments.
The changing nature of the pigment industry has made conditions challenging for pigment manufacturers, although there was some headway in pricing, as they were able to pass along some price increases.
“The pigments business, specifically in the NAFTA region, again operated in an environment of change,” said Larry Bykerk, Apollo Colors’ vice president of sales. “We were faced with the challenge of ever increasing raw material and energy costs while we competed against imported pigment whose manufacturers were often subsidized by their governments. At the same time, we were operating in a domestic market with little or no revenue growth.”
“Raw material prices are up, other manufacturing costs are up, offshore competition is increasing, quality is up, pricing is up,” said David Grabacki, president of Dynamic Color Systems. “Our customers are still faced with short staffing, tenacious competition, numerous market demands and shorter lead times.”
“In 2006, the pigment industry was characterized by overcapacities and increased raw material costs, which could not be transferred completely to the customers,” added Bernhard Ehrenreich, vice president printing business, Clariant International Ltd. “Despite that, Clariant had a quite successful year.”
“Volumes vary depending on the business segment,” said Fusao Ito, president of the Toyo Ink Group in America. “In conventional markets overall volumes remained virtually flat or decreased slightly except, of course, in China and other Southeast Asian countries. Although share growth in new markets was small, we have been progressively gaining a bigger piece of the pie. The level of product quality demanded by customers in these markets continues to rise year to year.”
Edward daPonte, global marketing manager for Flint Group Pigments, said that capacity in the classical pigment market has started to show signs of declining.
“In the past, we have seen pigment capacity outpace global demand, which pushed prices lower,” said Mr. daPonte. “However, for the last several years, there was more capacity reduction than new capacity additions in the ‘classical’ pigment market. This is evidence that the pigment market recognized that the growth in capacity of the past several years cannot be sustained and that some plants remain severely underutilized. It is clear that pigment producers recognize the need to show returns for their investments.”
High-quality products are one key to success.
Photo courtesy of LioChem, Inc.
“BASF’s pigment business experienced significant growth versus the prior year mainly due to new, innovative products that bring value to the market and offer a competitive edge to our customers,” said Roland Valin, BASF’s sales & technical marketing manager for color pigments.
“Overall, the 2006 pigment market performed quite well, particularly in the commercial, packaging, digital and specialty segments,” said David Woolven, head, imaging & inks business line NAFTA, coating effects segment at Ciba Specialty Chemicals. “The market for unique types of pigments and unique application areas grow steadily, as brand owners become more demanding in both desired effects, performance and differentiation. Users look for solutions which have a wider area of application.”
Raw Materials Costs And Pigment Pricing
Higher raw material prices have been a major concern for the ink industry. Pigments, the largest portion of the cost of ink, have faced their own price issues.
Supply is of great concern, as alternate uses for pigments are creating more demand for key raw materials and competition for the ink industry.
“In the past two years, the industry as a whole experienced higher than usual price increases from the raw material markets,” Mr. daPonte said. “The pigment market must compete with other outlets for the limited supply of raw materials. These rising raw material prices affect a wide variety of ‘classical’ pigments.”
“Many of the increases we incurred during 2006 are now impacting us full year 2007,” Mr. Bykerk said. “Margin erosion continues to be an issue. We are also very concerned with the price of soya oil. Many farmers are planting corn to take advantage of the higher prices brought on by ethanol demand.”
“Although we see few if any, supply concerns, it is easy to draw the parallel between the price of crude
Photo courtesy of Sun Chemical Performance Pigments.
In particular, copper and napthol prices are soaring.
“Increased naphthalene price has a huge influence on our product range of laked pigments, naphthol as pigments and naphtholon pigments,” Mr. Ehrenreich said. “The increased prices for copper and aluminum are influencing the whole phthalo pigments range. Generally increasing energy and freight costs are of big concern.”
“Rising raw material costs and supply issues continue to affect the pigment industry,” Mr. Woolven said. “This is particularly relevant in the process color markets. Copper and phthalic anhidride costs continue to increase, increasing costs of phthalo blues. Beta naphthol prices driven by the construction industry in China continues to pressure rubines and increases in DCB costs are affecting diarylide yellow costs.”
Pigment manufacturers are working to reduce the impact of higher costs, but they are also being forced to raise their own prices.
“We’ve been working hard to absorb costs to the extent possible, via advances in production technology and raw materials procurement on a global scale,” Mr. Ito said. “The portion of costs we cannot absorb ourselves, we will need to ‘seek the cooperation of customers’ in the form of price hikes.”
“To a large extent, Ciba Specialty Chemicals reduces the impact of raw material cost increases through process improvements and other cost reduction exercises,” Mr. Woolven said. “Increases in costs that cannot be mitigated through process improvement are shared with our customers.”
Another approach is to increase prices while also offering improved products.
“Many raw material costs have risen, which is not unusual,” Mr. Valin said. “The way a company responds to such issues is key. By focusing on value, a supplier can respond to cost, but not be completely controlled by cost.
“While it may sometimes be absolutely necessary to pass along higher costs, ultimately we try offsetting cost increases by improving properties or coloristic values,” Mr. Valin noted. “It may mean a higher face cost, but actually becomes economical in the final formulation. It is a technology that we have focused on and try to demonstrate to our customers; ‘one should not calculate the cost from the price of the raw material, but from the cost of the final formulation.’”
Still, price increases issued by pigment manufacturers aren’t covering the higher raw material costs they are facing. For example, Mr. Lavieri noted that Lansco has been able to pass along some, but not all, of these higher costs.
“Rising raw material and transportation costs were a key issue in 2006, particularly for phthalo blue and green pigments,” Mr. Lavieri said. “Even though the ink industry has become much more understanding of these issues over the last three or four years, margins for pigments declined.”
“We increased phthalo blue and green prices at the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Mr. Bykerk said. “The increase was small relative to the higher cost for phthalo crude and we haven’t seen any movement to lower prices with the drop in copper prices.”
“In the area of laked red and phthalo pigments, it was possible to pass a certain part of cost increases on, since global price level is already on a real commodity level,” Mr. Ehrenreich said. “Prices for yellow azo pigments are still under pressure, due to overcapacities and increasing interest of Chinese producers.”
Recent Trends in The Pigment Industry
There are areas of growth in the ink industry, and pigment companies are noting these developments. UV and packaging are two strong areas. Mr. Grabacki cited energy-curables and more frequent but smaller orders.
“Inks for packaging continue to grow, as are UV inks,” added Tom Ashe, director of sales for MC Technology.
High-performance pigments offer opportunities for growth
“Our growth appears to be coming from the more high-demand inks where BASF differentiates itself by bringing desired properties at a significant value to our customers,” Mr. Valin said.
“For conventional markets, primarily the plastics and paints segments, we have been continuously developing high-performance eco-friendly pigments,” Mr. Ito said. “Other developments include high performance pigments for digital ink applications (i.e. color filters, inkjet and toners) and prepared pigments. With a focus on high performance pigments development, we will strive to create high-value-added pigment products for our customers.”
“There is a noticeable trend to higher quality pigments,” Mr. Lavieri said. “Customers are requiring less batch-to-batch variability. Also, there is a trend back toward dry grinding of pigment for litho ink.”
Mr. Woolven said that regulatory restrictions are having an impact on the market.
“Ink producers look for pigments that will meet the demands of changing vehicle and solvent systems to comply with various regulatory restrictions imposed,” Mr. Woolven noted. “Ideally, one pigment for all applications seems to be the desired effect – not necessarily a recent trend.”
Challenges for The Pigment Industry
The pigment industry faces other challenges, and how it responds to these tasks will be critical. With raw material prices and supply a challenge and regulatory issues also of concern, pigment companies are working harder to help their customers stay ahead.
“Flint Group Pigments is ever vigilant to monitor the raw materials market to ensure the continuity and
New products and excellent service are essential to success.
“Apollo Colors will invest wisely in our facilities in order to continue to improve our productivity,” Mr. Bykerk said. “We will respond quickly to our customers specific product needs. Most foreign pigment companies aren’t interested in custom flushing. We built our business satisfying a customer’s desire for our pigment in a particular vehicle of their choice.”
“Product innovation is a key area that has been de-emphasized by the industry leaders over the last 10 years,” Mr. Lavieri said. “Inventing cutting-edge products for new applications is an important challenge. “Lansco is increasing new product development efforts to bring more new products to market that solve customer’s problems.”
“We have put together a team of the excellent people to help us remain nimble yet effective in anticipating the needs that the market places on our customers,” David Grabacki said.
“The commodity mind set is challenging,” Mr. Valin said. “People are less likely to look for the value of a development when they focus strictly on price per pound. BASF is responding by focusing on technology and innovation.”
Expectations For 2007
What does 2007 hold for the pigment industry? Mr. daPonte predicts that the overcapacity is due to catch up to the industry.
“I expect this will be another year where we may see limited expansion and perhaps even some consolidation of the ‘classical’ pigment market,” Mr. daPonte said. “The expansion of pigment capacity cannot continue to outpace the growth in demand. Economically, this is not feasible. However, the so-called ‘high performance pigments’ will see the introduction of new capacity, especially in the Asian markets. This has been an area of slow growth, but with increased interest to develop products for this sector of the industry will move the ‘development to market’ train more quickly.”
“2007 will be definitely another difficult year,” Mr. Ehrenreich said. “We expect growth in special inks, ink jet inks and toner and stagnation in packaging and publication inks.”
Much depends on the success of the ink industry.
“We believe 2007 with be another in a string of years that the ink industry will improve,” said Mr. Lavieri.
“Dynamic Color Systems will show dynamic growth for 2007,” said David Grabacki.
“MC Technology is coming off a record sales year in 2006 and we have high expectations for 2007,” Mr. Ashe said. “New customers, new product offerings and growth at existing customers will make 2007 very exciting.”
“Ciba Specialty Chemicals’ expectations for 2007 remain optimistic,” Mr. Woolven said. “Lucrative industry segments like commercial, packaging and specialty will continue to grow. Ciba will continue to build on its competence in pigment and additive offers with a broad range of special effect products and introduce services such as a new user friendly website for fast access to information and other services.”
“If the ink industry is successful in implementing the price increases they have already announced, the stage will be set for a healthy 2007,” Mr. Bykerk said. “If costs are not passed along and demand remains somewhat flat, it will be a difficult year.”
The following listing includes new pigment products introduced to the ink industry last year.
1401 Mound Rd.
Rockdale, IL 60436
Phone: (815) 741-2588
Fax: (815) 741-2599
• LIBRA Series
Comments: Apollo Colors’ new LIBRA Series was developed specifically to meet the needs of printers who demand fast turn around times. The unique vehicle system utilized in the LIBRA Series exhibits very fast setting properties, excellent gloss and transfer, while remaining tack and viscosity stable. LIBRA is high solids (97%) and compatible with a wide variety of let down vehicles. This versatility allows an ink manufacturer to formulate inks for porous and non-porous substrates. LIBRA will not only deliver excellent dot gain, ink/water balance and press stability on long and short runs, but will also present the printer with the ability of processing the printed material much quicker than ever before.
100 Campus Drive
Florham Park, NJ 07932
Phone: (704) 398-4201
• PY 14, PY 1 and PY74, as well as Yellow 12, 17 and 83.
Comments: BASF has broadened its portfolio of products for demanding printing applications. No longer just a specialties pigment supplier to the printing ink industry, BASF now offers a much more complete range of organic pigments. The diarylide yellow line has been boosted with the addition of PY 14, PY 1 and PY74, as well as Yellow 12, 17 and 83.
• HR 70
Comments: BASF’s HR 70 type red shade yellow (PY 87) has found a niche suited for applications where opacity in a HR yellow type pigment is necessary.
• PO 16
Comments: BASF now supplies PO 16 with an unmatched chroma.
• 2B Red Pigments
Comments: BASF’s wide range of 2B red pigments (PR 48:1, 2, 3 and 4) covers all the anticipated demands required for high quality, consistency and value.
• Pigment Blues
Comments: BASF’s pigment blues include several versions of PB 15:3 suitable for UV-curable and water-based systems.
• Pigments for Security
Products for security applications have been widened with new IR transparent blacks and magnetizable blacks containing properties that allow it to fit into a broader range of applications that were previously not possible.
Ciba Specialty Chemicals
540 White Plains Road
Tarrytown, NY 10591-9005
Phone: (914) 785-2000
Fax: (914) 785-4533
• Metasheen 11 Series
Comments: Metasheen 11 Series are high chrome vacuum metallized pigment (VMPs) for incorporation in typical solvent-based liquid ink formulations at low total solids. When printed on transparent films as an alternative to metallization, the ultimate mirror effect is redefined in both surface and reverse applications.
• Metasheen 91 Series
Comments: Metasheen 91 Series are high chrome VMPs for surface printing of paper substrates, where improved holdout is required, optimum results are achievable when slightly increased pigment and resin solids are used in the ink.
• Xymara Marker Turquoise LF1A
Comments: Xymara Marker Turquoise LF1A is a novel inorganic UV fluorescent pigment providing high quality, high value added effects for applications such as mid-range security and process control and automation.
• Xymara Marker Green SF1A
Comments: Xymara Marker Green SF1A is a novel inorganic UV fluorescent pigment providing high quality, high value added effects for applications such as TLC, mid-range security and process control and automation.
• Xymara Marker Ice Blue SF2A
Comments: Xymara Marker Ice Blue SF2A is a novel inorganic UV fluorescent pigment providing high quality, high value added effects for TLC applications.
• Xymara Marker Blue LF2A
Comments: Xymara Marker Blue LF2A is a novel inorganic UV fluorescent pigment providing high quality, high value added effects for applications such as an optical brightener, mid-range security and process control and automation
• Xymara Silver Pearl S03
Comments: Xymara Silver Pearl S03 is a sterling silver white pearl effect pigment with particle size of 10 to 60 microns.
• Xymara Silver Pearl S00
Comments: Xymara Silver Pearl S00 is a silver pearl effect pigment with particle size of 10 too 60 microns.
• Irgazin Yellow 2088
Comments: Irgazin Yellow 2088 is a mid-performance green shade yellow with exceptional strength and rheology for packaging and specialty inks.
• Cromophtal Jet Magenta 2BC
Comments: Cromophtal Jet Magenta 2BC is a yellow shade magenta pigment (quinacridone type) offering outstanding chroma and color purity, as well as excellent light stability. It is the magenta of choice for colorful and durable inkjet graphics.
Clariant International Ltd.
4132 Muttenz 1
Phone: +41 61 469 7965
Fax: +41 61 469 7555
• Permanent Rubine F6B01
Comments: Permanent Rubine F6B01 is an improved PR184 for packaging and offset inks.
• Permanent Carmine P-FBB04
Comments: Permanent Carmine P-FBB04 is a new PR146 for packaging inks.
• Permanent Yellow DHG N26
Comments: Permanent Yellow DHG N26 is a new mid-shade PY12 for publication gravure inks.
• Permanent Yellow G-TR
Comments: Permanent Yellow G-TR is a new transparent PY14 for packaging inks.
• Novoperm Yellow P-HRE
Comments: Novoperm Yellow P-HRE is a new PY83 for NC-ester systems.
• Novoperm Yellow HR-PA
Comments: Novoperm Yellow HR-PA is a new PY83 for polyamide systems.
• Novoperm Yellow HN4G
Comments: Novoperm Yellow HN4G is a new PY150 for decorative lamination inks.
• Novoperm Yellow H3R Special
Comments: Novoperm Yellow H3R Special is a stronger PY181 for high performance ink applications.
• Hostaperm Blue P-BFS01
Comments: Hostaperm Blue P-BFS01 is a new, very competitive PB15:4.
• Hostaperm Violet RL-WD
Comments: Hostaperm Violet RL-WD is a new PV23 for water-based applications.
161 Tower Drive - Unit H
Burr Ridge, IL 60527
Phone: (630) 321-9360
Fax: (630) 321-9361
E-mail: dsgrabacki@ DynamicColorSystems.com
• UV offset flushes for plastic substrates
• UV offset flushes for paper substrates
• UV offset flushes – new Color Indexes added
• High performance pigment flushes – R123, R166, Y151, Y154
Comments: Dynamic Color Systems continues to find opportunities in UV offset flushes for plastic and paper substrates as well as high performance pigment flushes.
Flint Group Pigments
305 Ring Road
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone: (270) 737-1700
Fax: (270) 737-0318
• Xtreme Dispersions
• Thoroughbred Sheetfed Flushes
• XSperse Dispersants
Comments: Flint Group Pigments has manufacturing sites in the U.S., Europe and China and offers a full line of products for all segments of the global colorant market. Flint Group Pigments’ portfolio is one of the most comprehensive in the industry, offering colorants in a variety of formats (flush, dry, presscake and dispersions), as well as alkyds and dispersants. Aqueous dispersions are an important component of the product line with production in the U.S., Europe and the recent addition of dispersion manufacturing in Guangzhou, China. With a local sales organization and this new facility in China, Flint Group Pigments has the ability to service the Asian markets with greater flexibility and efficiency.
This Guangzhou site will manufacture a full line of dispersions, including the Xtreme Dispersions, highly-pigmented dispersions that offers maximum formulation flexibility for the ink maker. Flint Group Pigments has also introduced a new line of sheetfed flushes, Thoroughbred Flushes, which comprise a high-solids and fast-setting line of flushes.
New to the Flint Group Pigments product line is the XSperse line of dispersants which are suitable for all applications where hyperdispersants are used. This product line has proven to be an excellent dispersing aid where dispersion and flow are critical.
305 West Grand Ave.
Montvale, NJ 07645
Phone: (201) 307-5995
Fax: (201) 307-5855
• 1503 Methyl Violet 3:1
Comments: 1503 Methyl Violet 3:1 is a replacement for the former Magruder Color VT-8015. It has excellent transparency and gloss and is recommended for solvent flexo applications.
• 1219 Quinacridone Red Violet
Comments: 1219 Quinacridone Red Violet 19 is a red-shade Violet 19 with excellent lightfastness, bleed resistance and transparency. The product is recommended for all applications and offers a good value in use.
• 1811 Rhodamine Red 81:1
Comments: 1811 Rhodamine Red 81:1 is recommended for solvent flexo inks as an alternative to the former Magruder Color products. It is easy-to-disperse and is recommended for vinyl, N/C, polyamide and oil-based systems.
1850 Airport Exchange, Suite 500
Erlanger, KY 41018
Phone: (859) 491-8716
Fax: (859) 282-8098
• UV Dispersion Line
• Magnum Line (High Pigmented Acrylic Dispersions Line).
• A variety of imported dry toners and presscakes.
• Several new dispersions made with high performance pigment that provide excellent lightfastness and resistance properties.
850 Hawthorne Lane
West Chicago, IL 60185
Phone: (630) 231-7000
Fax: (630) 231-7061
Lower Eccleshill Road
England BB3 0RP
• Superoto Series of premium bronze powders, pastes or H2O Pellets for liquid printing inks.
• Offset Series of ultra fine bronze powders or pastes for offset printing inks.
• Silveroto Series aluminum pastes for offset and liquid printing inks. Solvent soluble pellet also available.
Comments: Wolstenholme’s Superoto, Offset and Silveroto ranges of bronze and aluminum pigments for printing inks provide the ink manufacturer with an extremely versatile selection of metallic pigments specifically designed to meet the quality requirements of today’s printing ink systems. The production process is carefully controlled to ensure optimum particle size distribution, consistency in color and brilliance. Inks formulated with these pigments exhibit clean working on press, outstanding brilliance, high printed color strength, clean color, superior print coverage and substrate versatility.
The Challenge of Offshore Competition
Perhaps the most important issue in the pigment industry has been the rise of offshore pigment manufacturers, primarily in China and India. These manufacturers have been able to drive prices lower, forcing U.S. and European pigment companies to respond.
“Few actual pigment manufacturers still remain here in the U.S.,” Mr. Grabacki said. “India, China and other international sources are making much better products than 10 years ago and they seem to be much better represented here. The capabilities of these international sources have improved greatly – for development, applications, availability and product integrity.”
The response from pigment suppliers has been varied. Some companies have developed their own operations overseas, either through joint ventures or mergers. Last year, for example, Clariant announced a joint venture production facility with Hangzhou Baihe Chemicals Co. Ltd. for high-performance (HP) pigments in Hangzhou, China.
“Clariant strengthened over the last years its global production network for organic pigments and invested in new production capacities in China, which gives us a fair competitive position,” Mr. Ehrenreich noted.
“Offshore competition will continue to impact the pigment industry by offering lower cost, fit for purpose products,” Mr. Woolven said. “Ciba Specialty Chemicals continues to invest in offshore opportunities to ensure appropriate economies of scale to remain competitive in the markets we chose to occupy.”
The consolidation of Flint Ink and BASF’s pigment operations into Flint Group Pigments is another key example, as the company now has significant pigment production in China.
“The pigments market today must operate in this global market,” Mr. daPonte noted. “Competition, from whatever source, sharpens our resolve to continue to offer the market the best value through our products. With this global perspective, Flint Group Pigments is in prime position to offer the same high quality of service and products around the world.”
All in all, the intense competition has forced pigment companies to become leaner and more efficient.
“We closed our Allegheny Color division mid-year,” Mr. Bykerk said. “Industrial Color closed. Only the companies who have invested capital in recent years to improve their productivity have any chance for survival long-term. Apollo has put money into our plant all through the 1990s, and in 2006 we commissioned another Drais Turbulent Mixer.”
New products and strong service also keep the established companies moving ahead.
“Innovation is still the major driver of our success. We create more than 30 percent of our sales in the printing business with products younger than five years,” Mr. Ehrenreich said.
“We respond by staying in a close contact with our customers as possible – anticipating their needs – and helping them blaze new trails in new product development,” Mr. Grabacki added. “With the short staffing our customers face, we need to do our best to support their development efforts on an effective and timely basis.”
With stronger competition worldwide from the established pigment manufacturers, there is now pressure on the offshore companies.
“The weakening dollar is limiting off-shore competition from both Europe and Asia,” Mr. Lavieri said.
“I think that the impact of offshore (Chinese and Indian) competitors already reached the peak, since we see the first time in years price increases from them and some of them seem to be having financial difficulties,” Mr. Ehrenreich added.
Pigment Manufacturers Help Customers Prepare for REACH
One of the most significant concerns for all chemical manufacturers is REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals), the environmental directive which goes into effect in June in the European Union. Chemical manufacturers will have much stricter regulations in place, and will have to conduct costly studies to register certain chemicals. Ink and pigment manufacturers are going to be impacted by the new laws.
“Besides the increasing raw material costs and competing with industries outside pigments for those materials, the ever-changing regulatory scene will be the immediate concern for all chemical producers,” said Mr. daPonte. “Each sector of the world is rushing to implement their own flavor of regulatory controls. This not only affects those products already in existence but challenges the introduction of new products.
“Within the next few years we will see the full implementation of REACH within the European community,” Mr. daPonte added. “Customers must now carefully consider which of their suppliers are equipped to become fully compliant with these new programs. It’s no longer enough to seek suppliers that can offer products at the lowest prices, but it is important to consider which suppliers will have products that meet the new stringent regulations and are willing to introduce new products that are compliant. In addition to the new requirements, pigment producers must not neglect the need for new and improved products. Development of new products is essential for the health of the industry. It is this realm of new ideas that companies must challenge themselves to improve existing products or innovate new ones.”
“A key challenge will definitely be REACH,” Mr. Ehrenreich said. “Even though it is a European regulation, there will be tremendous global impact on the pigments industry as well as on the whole value chain.”
“Various regulatory affairs initiatives will challenge the pigment and ink industry in the coming years, particularly the re-classification of chemical substances in Canada and the REACH initiative out of Europe,” Mr. Woolven added.
Pigment manufacturers are helping their ink customers learn about the ramifications of REACH.
“Clariant has a big team of specialists concentrating on REACH,” Mr. Ehrenreich said. “We already provide seminars for our customers in order to help them regarding preparation for REACH.”
“Ciba Specialty Chemicals has the benefit of our Expert Services group, a service well-versed in regulatory affairs related issues to support our customer base from a global perspective,” Mr. Woolven added.