Spring Industry Events Share Common Themes for 2014 and Beyond

Posted on 7/21/2014 8:43:18 AM By Rick Krause

While the economy has certainly improved, the recovery remains uneven and certainly more tepid than what has been expected for 2014.  Certain markets have seen renewed and continued growth, but not all have enjoyed success.  Stabilization, transition and evolution seem to be the recurring and common themes shared at the Adhesives & Sealants Council meeting, the American Coatings Show, and RadTech 2014 where attendance improved compared to prior years.

In spite of declines in publication and commercial printing from 2008-2012, these markets have stabilized in the last 12-18 months and remain the predominant end-use of UVEB technology in volume terms.  Within the Adhesives industry, UVEB technology continues to evolve versus predominant and incumbent technologies.  Wood coatings and specialty coatings remain the next largest end-use of UVEB technology.  Adhesives and many other specialty applications continue to be opportunities for future growth.

Performance versus Value

Commercial success within our industries demands the required performance at the appropriate value.  Achieving or exceeding the performance of incumbent technologies at a comparable or better system cost is essential.

The continued interest and evolution in LED UVEB curing continues to attract a lot of attention as a fundamental way to reduce energy consumption and heat generation.  Lighting arrays and necessary supporting technologies are increasingly available.  Balancing cure speed and cure-through requirements vs formulated cost remains a challenge, but equipment availability is certainly less of a constraint.

Sustainability and Bio-renewability Content

As “sustainability” has become such an overused (and sometimes abused) term, subject to a wide range of interpretations, nomenclature continues to evolve and become more specific.  In addition to the “low VOC” sustainability advantages of UVEB technology, Bio-Renewability Content (BRC) is becoming more frequently cited by raw material suppliers to differentiate products derived from bio-renewable sources in contrast to petrochemicals.  In spite of the availability of cheap shale gas and subsequent petrochemical derivatives, market interest in bio-renewable sources remains high.

Major raw material suppliers now offer formulating building blocks with bio-renewable content ranging from 20-70%.  Although material cost is currently incrementally higher, commercial materials are now available.  And, the continued interest and marketability of BRC is unlikely to fade.

The 2014 ASC Sustainability Forum scheduled for July 22-23 in Baltimore promises to further highlight market trends and opportunities for the Adhesives & Sealants industry. 

Innovation is Not Easy

Offering a new product is no longer enough to garner broad-scale commercial success.  A new product may help enable success, but it is now a system solution – involving the capabilities of raw material suppliers, formulators, equipment suppliers, and system integrators – to meet the commercial and technical needs of end-users with a better value than the alternative or incumbent technologies.

Developments continue to offer UVEB cured laminating adhesives.  But, it will take the interest and sponsorship of end-users to provide the momentum to support ongoing trials and system developments. 

Human Health and Safety

Advancements in extraction and analytical methods to detect trace materials, combined with ever-increasing consumer and regulatory scrutiny, continue to propel the development of safer materials in areas like food packaging and cosmetics. Low migration technologies continue to evolve and suppliers / formulators presented a number of new product technologies to further minimizing un-cured or migrate-able fragments.

The Industry and Organizations Remain in Transition

Industry consolidation, private equity, organizational streamlining, and offshore competition to domestic suppliers – each are contributing to increased competitiveness and demands for organizational effectiveness within a slow growth business environment.  Organizations which remain customer and market focused will always face the best prospects in an ever-challenging and accelerating business environment.