High-Performance Pigments

By Kerry Pianoforte, Ink World Associate Editor | 08.07.07

As the market size grows and customers continue to demand more sophisticated technologies, the future for HPPs remains bright.

The high-performance pigment (HPP) market performed well in 2006.  The market for these types of

Photo courtesy of  Toyo Ink.
pigments continued to grow for a number of reasons. High-performance pigments offer a performance level which allows them to be used in wide variety of applications.  Valued for their improved characteristics, HPPs are used in areas where durability and performance are important.
Customers of  high-performance pigments expect a lot from these products. HPPs are expected to  exhibit excellent dispersibility, flow and gloss and are used in a number of key markets, including packaging and digital printing for inkjet printers. As these are growth markets, high-performance pigments also are enjoying growth.   
“Overall, the 2006 HPP market performed well and experienced better than market growth,” said David Woolven, head, imaging and inks business line NAFTA, coatings effects segment, Ciba Specialty Chemicals. “The market for this type of pigment continues to grow steadily, as applications demand both high performance and environmental compliance, and users look for solutions which have a wider area of application.”
“The market showed an improvement over 2005,” said Shigeki Katou, general manager, pigments divisions, color materials business headquarters, Toyo Ink Manufacturing. “This trend is continuing in 2007.”
As is the case with the ink market as a whole, rising raw material prices have continued to squeeze profit margins, forcing companies to pass along price increases to their customers.
“Many of the raw materials used to manufacture HPPs increased in cost, thereby affecting the selling price of the finished goods to some extent,” said Mr. Woolven.  “Ciba was successful in mitigating some of the escalating raw material costs through process improvements and other measures. However, some cost increases were shared with our customers.”
“Raw material prices continue to squeeze profit margins,” said Mr. Katou. “We’ve worked diligently on adjusting our selling prices to help offset raw material inflation. Generally, pricing has stabilized. We’ve seen small improvements due to steady demand across several markets.”
According to Mr. Woolven customers look for a number of properties in HPPs. These 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.”

Key Markets

The key printing 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, according to 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. 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.”
Highly valued for their innovative features and versatility, HPPs are making inroads into a number of non-traditional applications. According to Mr. Woolven, HPPs are making inroads into security and branding, themselves demanding and novel applications, due to their unique properties.
Another emerging application  is for electronics. “Closer collaborative efforts with our customers and partners have also fueled new developments in the electronics segment,” said Mr. Katou. “As a result, we’ve made inroads in the development of color materials for LCDs and digital printing, such as inks for inkjet printers, leveraging our core competencies of advanced pigment manufacture and particle dispersion. Demand for high contrast, high accuracy pigments in printing applications continues to grow steadily.”
“Potential applications should increase as the cost for classical ink grade pigments increase and end user quality requirements become more demanding,” said Don McBride, chief operating officer for Heucotech Ltd. “The usage of high-performance pigments will increase as the technical demands from our customers increase.”
Emerging markets like China and India continue to develop higher quality products, presenting a challenge to established HPP suppliers.
“We’re facing increasing sophistication from some Indian and Chinese producers beyond their previous attempts,” said Mr. Katou.
“Prices have declined despite increasing raw materials and energy due to global competition,” said Mr. McBride. “Of course, this in turn negatively affects margins. On the other hand, we believe the organizations that can provide competitively priced high-performance pigments may enjoy more opportunities.”
“Foreign competition is impacting the HPP market in some lower end application areas. However, in areas where product purity, quality consistency and regulatory compliance are issues, Ciba’s HPP business continues to grow,” said Mr. Woolven. 
As the market size grows and customers continue to demand  more sophisticated packaging and printing methods, the future for HPP pigments remains bright.

 The Value of High-Performance Pigments

No matter how one defines the market for high-performance pigments, it is sizable. For

Table 1: Pigments price vs. volume map (courtesy of SRI Consulting)
example, according to Ray Will, senior consultant for SRI Consulting, high-performance pigments accounts for 13 percent, or approximately $600 million, of the $4.8 billion specialty pigment marketplace. Mr. Will classifies diketo-pyrrolo-pyrrole, dioxazine, perylene and quinacridone as the high-performance organic pigments.
By contrast, Mr. Will reported that classic organic pigments – azo, diarylide, phthalocyanine and pyrazzalone – make up 42.3 percent, or $2 billion, of the global specialty pigment market.
As shown in Table 1, the price of  high-performance organic pigments vs. volume is significantly higher than classic organic pigments, or for that matter, commodity pigments. As a result, there are fewer producers of specialty pigments and higher margins for the products.

The Latest HPP Offerings

Suppliers of HPPs have recently launched a number of new products.
Toyo Ink has continued its work with blue, red and violet developments and recently launched new products such as Lionogen Violet FG-6140 for liquid inks and Lionogen Blue 7921 for jet inks.
Heubach is introducing both a yellow and blue shade phthalo green with improved levels of gloss, transparency and brightness. The company is also in the process of launching a diketopyrrolo pyrrole red, PR 254 and a quinacridone red 122.
Ciba Irgazin DPP Cosmoray Orange new-generation, high-performance diketo-pyrrolo-pyrrole (DPP) pigment creates novel shades and widens design scope. It extends the attainable color space and enhances appearance and shade brightness. Irgazin DPP Cosmoray Orange widens design scope, enabling the creation of new shades and styles, not only in the orange color space but also in the red, where, in combination with other pigments, it can be used to create a yellow shift.
Ciba Cromophtal Yellow LA2 is a greenish shade yellow pigment that offers high color strength, low viscosity, small particle size and narrow particle size distribution, excellent storage stability, and outstanding fastness properties.  Cromophtal Yellow LA2 is well suited for UV-based and also solvent-based inkjet applications, particularly where outstanding stability is required - including for outdoor banners, mainly printed solvent-based, and for UV printed outdoor and decoration applications.
Ciba Irgazin Yellow 2088 is a new, high value-in-use, benzimidazolone yellow (C.I. Pigment Yellow 151) that represents a step forward in the green shade yellow color space.  Irgazin Yellow 2088 is especially well suited for use in UV and solvent based screen printing ink applications.  Irgazin Yellow 2088 offers the following main features in both UV- and solvent-based printing inks: good dispersibility, high color strength, high opacity, good rheology and excellent stability against UV pre-curing.

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