Published August 2014
Epoxy surface coatings are among the most widely used industrial finishes, exceeded in volume only by alkyds and acrylics. Epoxies are often more expensive than other coatings, but provide superior adhesion, flexibility and corrosion resistance when applied to metallic substrates. Because of their tendency to chalk or discolor upon exposure to sunlight, epoxy surface coatings are seldom used in architectural applications where there is exposure to outdoor light.
The following pie chart shows consumption of epoxy surface coatings by major region:
Consumption of epoxy resins for coatings has been growing rapidly in China, with use expected to continue to grow at 5–6% annually through 2018. Use in powder coatings accounts for about 37% of total consumption. China is now the leading producer of powder coatings in the world. Marine and maintenance coatings account for another 31%. Use will continue to grow in shipbuilding and repair, as well as in protective coatings for structures used in petrochemical plants, pulp and paper mills, and other areas subjected to corrosive environments. The Chinese have aggressively added epoxy resin facilities in the past decade, with total capacity increasing at an average annual rate of almost 19% from 2004 to 2013.
Other Asia, including primarily India, Taiwan and the ASEAN countries, is a large and growing market for epoxy coatings. India accounts for more than half of the consumption in the region, and nearly 40% of the Indian market is for epoxy powder coatings. Some of the countries are significant producers of automobiles or are major participants in the shipbuilding industry. Consumption growth in the region is expected to continue at 5–7% per year through the forecast period to 2018.
In Western Europe, consumption of epoxy surface coatings is expected to grow at a rate of approximately 2.5% per year on average from 2013 through 2018. Powder coatings and marine/maintenance coatings are the largest markets, but both are expected to experience little growth. The transportation sector is expected to grow again after the dramatic 2009 downturn, but automotive production in 2018 is projected to be about the same as that in 2008. As in North America, there is concern in Europe over leaching of bisphenol A into the contents of cans coated with epoxies. As a result, producers are offering epoxies with very low levels of leachables, and are developing nonepoxy coatings as replacements. However, no large-scale replacement is imminent.
In the United States, consumption of epoxy resins in surface coatings peaked in 1999 but dropped significantly during the 2000s because of the slowdown in U.S. industrial production. Use of epoxy coatings in relatively mature markets (e.g., marine, industrial maintenance, transportation) will grow at about 1% per year through 2018. Powder coatings are projected to grow at approximately 2% per year, a rate that is down considerably from the rates experienced in the 1990s. Consumption in metal beverage and food container coatings will remain flat as a result of stagnant demand as well as concerns over bisphenol A leaching into can contents. Bisphenol A is a suspected endocrine disrupter. As a result, some manufacturers of canned food are developing non–bisphenol A linings, and some have established timetables for replacement with more acceptable substitutes. Total U.S. consumption of epoxy resins in surface coatings should grow at a rate of about 2% annually in the near future. Even at this rate of growth, consumption will be less than that of the early 2000s.
Another sizable consumer of epoxy surface coatings is the Republic of Korea, where about 60% of the epoxy coatings are used for shipbuilding and repair in the marine industry. This application grew strongly until 2009, when the global economic downturn led to decreased shipyard activity. Only moderate growth is expected in the near future because of increased competition with Chinese shipyards. Total epoxy resin consumption for coatings should grow only minimally for the next five years.
In Japan, consumption of epoxies was relatively flat during 2010–2014, after the recovery from the significant downturn of 2009. Use of epoxy coatings in the shipbuilding industry is expected to recover, but automotive production is not expected to grow, and overall growth for epoxy coatings is expected to remain stagnant.