Recently, Smithers Rapra sat down with two experts in the Pigment and TiO2 fields; Gary Miller from A. Schulman and Reg Adams from Aritkol to discuss why the co-located TiO2 World Summit 2016 Pigment & Color Science Forum 2016 so important to the industry, some of the challenges the industry is currently facing, the best innovations currently happening.
Smithers Rapra: Why is the TiO2 World Summit/ Pigment & Color Science Forum so important to the industry?
Reg Adams: The annual SmithersRapra conference on Titanium Dioxide is always a highlight in the industry's calendar. For me and for many others, it is the most important event of the year. As well as being one of the most enjoyable and productive. The programme features a well balanced variety of data-rich presentations by experts from North America, Europe, China and other parts of the world, covering supply/demand dynamics and forecasts for titanium minerals, TiO2 pigments and major end-use sectors plus details of significant new process, equipment and project developments. Reflecting the high quality of speakers and presentation content, the conference attracts an audience of senior executives from mining, chemical and engineering companies, financial analysts and consultants. Running the TiO2 Summit in parallel with the Pigment & Color Science Forum enhances the value of both conferences because it enhances the scope for networking. SmithersRapra draws on a lot of experience in ensuring that all aspects of these conferences – registering, attending and downloading the papers – are catered for in a professional and efficient manner.
Gary Miller: It is a “one stop-shop” where companies engaged in Developing Manufacturing, Marketing , Selling, Distributing, and/or Consuming Ti02 and Pigments can meet and interact with each other
Smithers Rapra: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry, right now?
Reg Adams: The biggest challenges right now facing the TiO2 pigment industry – and, to a lesser extent, the TiO2 feedstocks industry – are low profitability and low product prices. Overcapacity is the root cause and this problem has been exacerbated by excessively subsidised inefficient operations, especially in certain parts of China. Low profitability inevitably deters investment in innovation and modernisation, which could be harmful to the health of the entire TiO2 value-chain in the long-term. Another major challenge facing the industry is derived from the fact that the world's geological resources of cheaply extractable titanium minerals are nearing exhaustion, so that in future mining and processing costs are almost certain to rise. These cost increases will inexorably ripple down the value-chain, creating upward pressure on final product costs.
Gary Miller: There are always challenges in the industry due to the character , length, and nature of the Supply Chain. Each has its challenges from the mines to the fashion trends using white and color pigments. Very important is striking the balance between new Legislation and meeting the changing complex food and other regulations , while partnering with suppliers who can deliver global competiveness. Also, the remaining challenges in sustainability, primarily for inorganic pigments.
Smithers Rapra: What are some of the best innovations going on in the industry, right now?
Reg Adams: The most noteworthy innovations affecting the industry in recent years have been at the downstream end, where paintmakers, plastics processors and other consumers have achieved substantial reductions in their unit dosages/loadings of TiO2 pigment, apparently without jeopardising product performance or durability. As far as I am aware, there has been very little hard information released as to the nature of these thrifting innovations. On the production side, no major technological breakthroughs are imminent: the most widely used methods for mining, for making upgraded feedstocks and for making TiO2 pigments are well established. True enough, several new methods have been proposed for making TiO2 pigment, but none of them hold out the promise of sweeping success during the next few years. Innovative low-cost technologies for titanium metal manufacture are attracting a lot of attention. If titanium metal could be produced much more cheaply, it would be fully competitive against aluminium and steel in large-volume applications. This would result in soaring demand for titanium minerals, which would inevitably result in higher prices for TiO2 feedstocks, which would have tto be passed on down the TiO2 value-chain.
Gary Miller: Pearlescent pigments, as well as . nano-pigments, thermochromic pigments, antimicrobials, photo selective pigments for agricultural applications, and the list goes on. Also ,other innovations in pigments as well as Ti02
Smithers Rapra: What are you most looking forward to hearing at the conferences, this fall, in Cleveland?
Reg Adams: At the Cleveland TiO2 conference in October, I am once again looking forward to hearing a well balanced variety of data-rich presentations on a range of topics affecting the TiO2 value-chain. Past SmithersRapra conferences have sometimes featured surprise announcements – a proposed merger or acquisition; a major new project; the unveiling of a significant new process improvement. I enjoy pleasant surprises! As always, my eyes and ears will be on full alert to capture all the latest news and information circulating at this important event!
Gary Miller: The ability to hear from representatives along the entire Supply Chain to get a good , comprehensive overview of the trends, issues, and innovations in these industries to guide our future efforts and plans.