Hear from Eric Kirchner of AkzoNobel on challenges facing pigment industry

Ahead of the 2019 Pigment and Colour Science Forum, we spoke with Eric Kirchner, Senior Color Scientist at AkzoNobel, to get hear a little more about what we can expect from his presentation this year, as well as his thoughts on the challenges curently facing the pigment industry. 

You are going to be talking about how new colour sensor technology revolutionizes coatings market–can you give us some insight into what you will be exploring?

When spectrophotometers were introduced in the market half a century ago, they revolutionized color processes. In quality control and other large industrial applications, craftmanship, subjective visual assessments and physical standards were slowly replaced by instruments and databases. But in applications for smaller businesses, and also in consumer applications, color instruments still hardly play a role. This is caused by the high price of spectrophotometers, typically well above €5000.

Only in the past decade color instruments became available at prices below €300. We will discuss what enabled these recent developments. Many vendors of these low-cost color instruments claim great accuracy, but are they really good enough for color matching or QC? We would like to open a discussion on the type of applications and markets where these new instruments might be useful. Will they revolutionize the color processes for end-consumers and for smaller businesses, just like spectrophotometers did before for industrial applications and big B2B?

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now and how to do you think this conference can address them?

Color is a key property of many products, but color is also responsible for many complaints in B2B and B2C markets. The technology to improve color processes is known for decades, but especially in smaller businesses, in smaller market segments as well as in end-customer delivery, the high price of current color instruments blocks the use of spreading that technology further. In my key note I will address this question and show how recent developments in sensor technology and in the lighting industry could remove this obstacle for the first time. This could very well revolutionize the way color is handled in many markets.

What do you see as the most significant changes coming up in the pigment sector in the next 12-24 months?

For the paints and coatings industry as a whole, the current developments in the classification of titanium dioxide pigment are crucial. On a slightly longer term, the continuous commercial introduction of new effect pigments from the pigment industry have a large impact on color processes in the paint and coatings industry. These new pigments offer a spectacular appearance. Imitating that appearance in the car refinishes industry can be challenging and require automated procedures to recognize these pigments.

Creating new color stylings with it in a way that is reproducible can also be a challenge, since often they need to be applied in coating films that are not opaque. And showing these exciting color stylings on an electronic display, for example for e-Commerce, also brings challenges to the industry, since these pigments often appear at the edge of the color gamut and create interesting texture effects as well.

What are you most looking for to about attending the Pigment and Colour Science Forum 2019?

I look forward to meeting industry experts and be updated on the current state of technology, as well as on what’s coming next.


Eric's presentation 'new colour sensor technology revolutionizes coatings market' is part of the Instrumental Color Analysis session on day two of this year's conference. 

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