Published May 2013
Acrylic surface coatings are used in all three of the paint and coatings market categories—architectural coatings, product finishes for original equipment manufacture (OEM), and special-purpose coatings. Protective coatings other than paints, such as fabric and leather finishes, floor polishes, and paper coatings, can also be based on acrylic polymers; however, these coatings are not included in this report.
Acrylic surface coatings are the leading finishes used in the paint and coatings industry, having surpassed alkyd finishes over the past few years. Based on acrylic and/or methacrylic polymers or copolymers, acrylic surface coatings are noted for their inertness and excellent color retention when exposed to outdoor conditions. Acrylics are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the coatings industry; it is estimated that global consumption of acrylic surface coatings grew at 8% per year during 2003–2007, but was then affected by the global economic crisis of 2008–2009, resulting in a large drop in consumption in the industrialized regions of the world. In 2010–2012, there was recovery, particularly in China, so that global sales of acrylic coatings were valued at roughly $20 billion (manufacturer's level), in 2012. Acrylic coatings now account for about 25% of all coatings.
Acrylic coatings can be thermoplastic or thermosetting. In addition, they can be applied in organic solventborne, waterborne, powder or radiation-curable formulations.
The following pie chart shows consumption of acrylic surface coatings in the three major consuming regions:
Thermoplastic waterborne acrylic latex (or emulsion) coatings are generally used as architectural finishes and, to a much lesser extent, on factory-finished wood products. Thermosetting acrylic enamels are used primarily in product finishes. Solventborne formulations are used as automotive and light-truck topcoats and as container and machinery coatings. Waterborne thermosetting enamels are applied to automobiles, containers, aluminum and steel coil, and machinery and equipment. Lacquers, which are thermoplastic coatings applied in solventborne form, are used as automotive and other transportation refinishes and on machinery and equipment. Powder and radiation-curable coatings, both thermosets, are used in selected markets in limited but growing quantities.
For environmental reasons, there has been a shift toward waterborne acrylics used as automotive basecoats. Currently, waterbornes account for 50–60% of the global market for automotive basecoats, which is up considerably from 1997 when the penetration was about 20%. In North America, approximately 25 assembly plants now use waterborne basecoats, and in Germany, which accounts for about 45% of total vehicle production in Europe, waterborne basecoats account for about 85% of the total basecoat market. In Japan, Toyota has converted a number of its assembly lines to waterborne basecoats and Honda will convert several of its lines in the near future. Some Japanese automobile manufacturers started applying waterborne coating systems at new plants in Thailand and Indonesia supplied by Kansai Paint, Nippon Paint and others. In China, consumption of waterborne acrylic basecoats for vehicles has been gradually increasing as some automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, started to apply water-based systems in new product lines built in the late 2000s.
In many developing regions, such as Latin America, Africa, and certain parts of Asia and Eastern Europe, the architectural coatings market is dominated by low-end, very inexpensive paint that tends to be produced by local manufacturers, and relatively little acrylic resin is consumed. Currently, for example, budget architectural coatings account for about 75% of the total market in India and 45% in China, compared with less than 10% in the United States. However, acrylic resin use in coatings continues to increase as these economies continue to grow, raising the standard of living, and people consume higher-quality goods, including paints. In recent years, Dow (Rohm and Haas) has added capacity for acrylic emulsions in areas like India (2007 and 2008), Mexico (2008), Russia (2009), Vietnam (2011) and Dubai (2012). In 2012, BASF built an acrylic emulsions plant in South Africa.