Posted in: Formulators Forum

Formulators Forum—Emerging Trends and Challenges in Low Temperature Cure Powder Coatings

Posted on Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Powder coatings have garnered significant attention in recent years, with stakeholders across the coatings industry recognizing the need for improved performance and sustainability. Architects, formulators, applicators, and end users are increasingly demanding powder coating resins that can address challenges related to durability, corrosion resistance, low temperature cure, and gloss retention. Here we explore trends and challenges in powder coatings and how innovative solutions can meet the evolving needs of various industries.

Sustainability and Performance Enhancement
Sustainability has become a driving force in the coatings industry, influencing the preference for low volatile organic compound (VOC) and low-waste technologies such as powder coatings, which minimize environmental impact while offering flexibility in design and durability. Moreover, as performance continues to improve, end users and specifiers are increasingly adopting powder coatings as a sustainable alternative to liquid technologies. The ability of powder coatings to match the mechanical properties required for diverse market applications is further driving the migration from traditional liquid systems.

Expanding Market Opportunities and Challenges
Advancements in application technology have played a crucial role in expanding the powder coatings market. The availability of larger, more efficient curing lines enables faster production, thereby opening up new market segments. Additionally, the development of low temperature cure resins has widened the range of end market applications for powder coatings. Non-traditional substrates such as wood, plastic, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) are now viable options for powder coatings, offering enhanced performance and expanding the scope of their use.

While powder coatings offer numerous advantages, they also face certain challenges that need to be addressed. The demand for an expanded performance profile, particularly in terms of corrosion resistance, durability, and UV stability, is increasing across sectors such as automotive, architectural, and ACE (agricultural and construction equipment) markets. The rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) industry presents a significant opportunity for powder coatings, as the requirements for dielectric and corrosion properties in EV batteries can extend to other automotive components.

Enhancing Performance of Low-Temperature Cure Powder Coatings
Achieving lower-temperature cure in powder coatings necessitates enhanced reactivity of resin chemistries and the introduction of new curing mechanisms. Mechanical property enhancement is vital to optimize the performance of specific applications. For instance, heat-sensitive substrates and the ongoing advancements in EV battery technology demand innovations in resin development. For example, Arkema has developed a saturated carboxylated polyester resin designed for an epoxy curing at 50:50 resin to epoxy ratio, which offers ultra-low temperature (130-140 degrees Celsius or 266-285 degrees Fahrenheit) curing capabilities over metal. This solution demonstrates excellent flow, color stability, and storage stability across various geographies, making it an ideal choice for parts with dissimilar metal thicknesses.

Future Advancement
To address the identified trends and challenges in powder coatings, collaboration and strong relationships across the value chain are vital. By actively engaging with formulators, applicators, and end users, we can better understand their needs and develop innovative solutions. This approach ensures the continual advancement of powder coating technology, meeting evolving industry demands while driving the growth of the powder coatings market.

The powder coatings industry is poised for significant growth in the coming years, driven by the increasing demand for sustainable and high-performance solutions. Key trends include the adoption of low VOC, low-waste technologies, the expansion of market opportunities through improved performance and mechanical properties, and the rising importance of electric vehicle applications. Overcoming challenges related to expanded performance profiles and lower temperature curing is crucial for the continued success of powder coatings. By fostering collaboration and developing innovative solutions, the industry can unlock the full potential of powder coatings and meet the evolving needs of diverse industries.

Sameer Shaikh is lead technical service engineer at Arkema Coating Resins.