By David Reed, UT EditorMenlo Park, California-The global consumption of urethane coating resins is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 3 percent, from 1.6 million tonnes in 2003, with a manufacturer’s level value of $8500 million, according to a Chemical Economics Handbook (CEH) marketing research report.The materials account for about 8 percent of total coatings volume but 15 percent of total sales value, the report says, adding that, despite their relatively high cost, the excellent durability, resistance to corrosion and abrasion, and flexibility of urethane coatings makes them suitable for a range of high-performance applications including automotive refinishes, wood finishes, and high-performance anticorrosion coatings.Growth in recent years has been stimulated by the ability to formulate urethane coatings with lower organic solvent contents, CEH says, citing their use for automotive clear coats in Europe and North America as one important aspect of their recent rapid growth. Globally, about 0.5 million vehicles received two-component urethane clear coats in 1990, and the figure rose to 6.4 million in 1995 and about 10 million in 1999 and 2003, the CEH report says.The systems now account for 30 percent of the topcoat market in Europe and 20 percent in North America, CEH added, pointing out that in Japan, only small amounts of urethane formulations are now used for automotive topcoats. This is largely because of the high cost of urethanes, and the fact that environmental and regulatory pressures in Japan have not forced a switch away from the conventional solvent-borne low-solids acrylics, explained CEH.Other market segments show similar contrasts in urethane usage, the report says, pointing out that wood finishing is more important in Europe than the US, while urethane-based powder coatings have a solid position in North America.Global consumption of urethane coating resins (including only film formers made from polyols, isocyanates and/or fatty acids/oils) is dominated by western Europe, at 34 percent, with North America accounting for 30.5 percent of the market, Japan 10.5 percent, and the rest of the world for the remaining 25 percent.The 84-page report, Urethane Surface Coatings, costs $2000 from CEH at: http://ceh.sric.sri.com/Public/Reports/592.8000/”
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