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Merck KGaA Partners for 3D Effect Printing Technology, Wanhua Chemical Opens Technical Center for MDI Business, Axalta Opens India HQ Office

SpecialChem / Mark Drukenbrod – May 11, 2017

Hello and welcome to your late week international coatings industry update, brought to you by SpecialChem. In industry news since last issue, AkzoNobel has declined a third merger proposal submitted by PPG and Axalta held the grand opening event of its Americas Technology Center. Sun Chemical has entered an agreement with HP Indigo to develop digital coatings and Cornell University researchers have developed a new non-fluorine-based oleophobic coating for fabric. There’s much more where we continue and as always, you can go to the above items now using the links, or checkout our latest stories, which we’ll get to right away…

Merck KGaA Partners for 3D Effect Printing Technology

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, one of the leading science and technology companies, has found a strategic partner for its innovative 3D effect printing technology. The effect pigment specialist will work together with Schmid Rhyner AG, to further develop and commercialize its virtual embossing (VE3D) technology. The Swiss company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of UV coatings and technologies for the printing industry. The aim of the partnership is to establish the purely optical 3D solution with the effect pigment technology from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, on the packaging market. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has already achieved significant success with a similar 3D process for manufacturing plastic package components in an injection molding process. For that purpose, the pigments expert found a strategic partner last autumn.

Wanhua Chemical Opens Technical Center to Expand its MDI Business

Based in Yantai Shandong Province PR China, Wanhua Chemical is one of the largest and most competitive MDI producers in ADI market. Since the sales company established in Philadelphia in 2006, Wanhua constantly adhere the concept of “Customer First” and “Customer orientation”, lead the market share in stepped and solid increase. Wanhua has become a major and one of the leading suppliers in N.A urethane and CASE industry. In order to better serve and demonstrate its commitment to local customer, Wanhua has launched the N.A. Technical center project in parallel with the 400kt MDI manufacturing project in 2013. This tech center is positioned as regional customer service base and will be utilized primarily for local customers’ troubleshooting, recipe adjustment and sample property analysis. Wanhua will take the advantage of U.S abundant talent and research resource, explore the potential talent training, joint research collaboration with local academic and research institutes

Axalta Opens India HQ Office to Support Refinish & Industrial Sectors

Axalta opened its new headquarters office for India located in Gurugram within the National Capital Region (NCR). The new location will also house an Axalta Global Business Resource Center which will provide a variety of services to the company’s operations in the region and around the world. The 35,000 square feet facility will enable Axalta to integrate its corporate office and other key country business functions within a single office leading to improved efficiency and business process management. The opening follows Axalta’s plant expansion plan in India announced in 2015. “We are very excited to see another significant investment support our future growth in India,” said Robert Bryant, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Axalta Coating Systems, who officially opened the facility.

On Your Coatings Radar – Fasten your Seatbelts…

On Monday, AkzoNobel rejected PPG’s third offer to commence merger talks, which has apparently caused some drama among investors and within the companies.

Most fans of classic movies know the famous line that Bette Davis delivers as Margo Channing in All about Eve, after she has a few too many cocktails and notices her husband getting too chummy with a young starlet. Her friend Karen, played by Celeste Holm, notices and says to her: “We’ve seen you like this before. Is it over, or is it just beginning?" Davis downs another drink, walks over to a staircase, looks down at her husband with a smirk and responds with the now legendary quote: “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Much like in the movie, it is pretty likely that the situation between PPG and AkzoNobel is not over, and that the air is going to be very bumpy as activist shareholders crank up the hostility in order to try to bring the parties to the negotiation table.

No sooner had the rejection announcements hit the street on Monday than Elliott Advisors launched legal action to oust AkzoNobel chairman Antony Burgmans after the company rejected the latest unsolicited takeover offer.

Elliott, a hedge fund which has a 3% stake in AkzoNobel and has been trying to get it to engage in talks with PPG, said Akzo's rejection of its third proposal "without entering into any constructive form of engagement" is "a flagrant breach of AkzoNobel's boards' fiduciary duties and of Dutch corporate law" and "an arrogant dismissal of recognized principles of proper corporate governance". In addition, it said Akzo’s reasons for declining the offer were unconvincing and unsupported by any available evidence.

Elliott has filed a petition with the Enterprise Chamber to enforce the rights of shareholders to hold the requested EGM to vote on the dismissal of chairman Burgmans.

It is pretty likely that we will experience “radio silence” while this EGM petition works through its paperwork phase and PPG plans its next move, but if the news ratchets up again, you can be sure that it will be a good bit less civil. Both companies now have a very considerable amount of human and monetary capital wrapped up in this, and PPG may not be likely to go away peacefully.

That being said, this latest refusal by AkzoNobel leaves PPG with a difficult decision to make. A further unsolicited bid by PPG would be considered hostile by Akzo, which has protective measures against hostile takeovers which were adopted in 1926 but have never been tested. Added to this, the Dutch economic affairs minister has openly opposed an Akzo Nobel takeover amid rising nationalist sentiment in the Netherlands and some of Dutch and UK employees are concerned that US ownership would lead to job losses.

And just for the record, while Akzo Nobel and other Dutch multinational corporations have grown large through foreign acquisitions, successful hostile takeovers of Dutch companies by foreign buyers are almost nonexistent.

The plot thickens. Stay tuned here.

AkzoNobel Declines Third Merger Deal from PPG

AkzoNobel has declined a third unsolicited, non-binding and conditional proposal submitted by PPG Industries for all outstanding ordinary shares in the capital of AkzoNobel.

AkzoNobel has concluded its own strategy. It offers a superior route to growth and long-term value creation and is in the best interests of shareholders and all other stakeholders.

This decision follows considerable in-depth analysis of PPG’s proposal by the Supervisory Board and Management Board of AkzoNobel, working closely with their financial and legal advisors. As part of this process, Ton Büchner, CEO, and Antony Burgmans, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of AkzoNobel, met with Michael McGarry, Chairman and CEO, and Hugh Grant, Lead Independent Director of PPG.

In the execution of their fiduciary duties, the absolute focus of the Boards has been to determine whether the proposal by PPG fits with AkzoNobel’s strategic objectives, is in the best interests of the company and creates long-term value for shareholders and all other stakeholders.

After extensive consideration, the company has concluded that the interests of shareholders and other stakeholders are best-served by its own strategy to accelerate growth and value creation. That strategy set out a clear road map for:

•The creation of two focused and high-performing Paints and Coatings and Specialty Chemicals businesses, to enable an acceleration of growth and enhanced profitability

•Significantly increased financial guidance for Paints and Coatings and Specialty Chemicals

•The clear separation of Specialty Chemicals within 12 months with the vast majority of net proceeds to be returned to shareholders

•Increased shareholder returns, including a 50% higher dividend for 2017 and €1 billion special cash dividend payable in November

•The creation of significant value for shareholders in the short, medium and long term, whilst also securing the interest of other stakeholders

The extensive review and the meeting with PPG confirmed to AkzoNobel that its own strategy is better and does not contain the risks and uncertainties inherent in PPG’s proposal. This strategy will build on the existing growth momentum within AkzoNobel and create a step change in value creation for shareholders and all other stakeholders.

PPG’s proposal has been tested on four key areas: value, certainty, timing, and stakeholder considerations.

Taking all of the above factors into consideration, including the meeting with PPG, the Boards of AkzoNobel have concluded that PPG’s proposal is not in the best interests of the company, its shareholders and all other stakeholders.

Ton Buchner, AkzoNobel CEO, said: “As part of our fiduciary duties we conducted an extensive review of the third proposal from PPG. This process included myself and Antony Burgmans meeting with the CEO and lead independent director of PPG to understand their proposal in more detail.

“The PPG proposal undervalues AkzoNobel, contains significant risks and uncertainties, makes no substantive commitments to stakeholders and demonstrates a lack of cultural understanding.

“By contrast, AkzoNobel has outlined a compelling strategy to accelerate growth and value creation which we believe will deliver significant long-term value for our shareholders and all other stakeholders. We will deliver this within a clear timeline, without the substantial level of risks and uncertainties attached to the alternative proposal.

“We have a strong track record of delivering on our commitments and are fully focused on accelerating growth momentum and enhanced profitability with the creation of two focused, high-performing businesses – Paints and Coatings and Specialty Chemicals – which will lead to a step change in growth and long-term value creation for shareholders and all other stakeholders.”

Green Biologics Honored with BDC’s Commercialization Achievement Award

The Biorenewable Deployment Consortium (BDC) honored Green Biologics, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Green Biologics Ltd., a U.K. industrial biotechnology and renewable specialty chemical company, with the organization’s Spring 2017 Commercialization Achievement Award at its spring meeting in Des Moines on May 2, 2017. Green Biologics is recognized for its leadership in the biorenewable industry and successful commercialization of renewable alternatives to n-butanol, acetone and its associated derivatives. These chemicals serve as vital components to downstream products across various industries, including CASE (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers), HI&I (household, industrial & institutional cleaners), PCI (personal care intermediates), food ingredients and energy chemicals.

“The Biorenewable Deployment Consortium is proud to honor Green Biologics with its Spring 2017 Commercialization Achievement Award,” said BDC Chairman and Co-Founder Ben Thorp. “Green Biologics is a great example of a company that is effectively using its technology platform to produce a wide range of sustainable feedstocks into high performance green chemicals and industrial products. Its commercial plant in Little Falls, MN is the reason that BDC has recognized Green Biologics and awarded its global team for its continued success.”

Green Biologics officially began customer shipments at its first commercial facility in Little Falls, MN, in December 2016, marking the culmination of a years’-long effort to create a robust, global network of customers and partners. These relationships have enabled the company to bring its 100 percent bio-based products to numerous downstream markets and specialty applications. As a result, Green Biologics has further strengthened its position as a global renewable specialty chemicals company, and reinforced its ability to meet the needs of today’s producers and consumers, who are demanding environmentally conscious alternatives to longstanding products.

“We’re pleased to be recognized by the Biorenewable Deployment Consortium for these achievements,” said Tim Staub, Green Biologics’ Global VP Business Development, who received the award on behalf of the company. “Our global team’s tireless efforts and dedication to a greener, cleaner tomorrow made all that we have accomplished possible, and we thank all involved for their hard work. It makes us very proud to follow in the footsteps of companies like DuPont Industrial Biosciences, which received this honor last year, and we’ll continue to work hard to bring new products and innovative solutions to market.”

BASF Named Sustainability Supplier of the Year by FCA US

BASF was named the 2017 FCA US LLC Sustainability Supplier of the Year for the second time. Winners were selected based on a rating system that evaluates supplier performance in quality, delivery, cost, warranty, and partnership, as well as input from FCA senior leadership. BASF was also honored for its robust sustainability strategy, goals, and programs, which served as a key differentiator.

FCA senior leadership also highlighted BASF’s willingness to share best practices, key insights, and knowledge. Last fall, BASF co-hosted the first Responsible Sourcing workshop with FCA US to raise awareness of and promote sustainability along the supply chain. The workshop brought together more than 40 Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers to discuss sustainability strategies and develop action plans.

We honor those who continue to fuel our momentum by providing us not only the best ideas and cutting-edge technologies, but also the suppliers who consistently, exceed our expectations,” said Scott Thiele, Chief Purchasing Officer, FCA – Global.

"BASF and FCA’s ongoing collaboration enables our commitment to sustainable innovation,” said Nader Mahmoud, Vice-President, Market and Business Development North America at BASF. “This award is an outstanding representation of our partnership as we continue to share best practices and progress between our sustainability teams.”

Representatives from BASF accepted the award at a ceremony in Detroit on May 2.

Electric Impulses May Replace Biocides in E-Coat Operations

Most paints for households or industry are based on water and, hence, are environmentally more compatible than paints based on solvents. Water-based paints, however, have one drawback: Microorganisms, such as bacteria, feel very comfortable and spread. This also affects paint shops of automotive industry and other sectors. Sterilization of industrial water and paints with electric impulses is the objective of the DiWaL cooperation project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This project is coordinated by researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and executed in cooperation with partners from research and industry.

Whether brightly colored or classic gray or black: Before a car is painted, the body is cleaned, pre-treated, and provided with a corrosion-resistant coating by surface pre-treatment and electrophoretic immersion painting. The latter is an electrochemical process to produce a homogeneous paint coating by a DC voltage field in an immersion bath. "However, bacteria can reproduce well in the water and paints used and then adversely affect the quality of surface coating. To control these bacteria, biocides have been used so far. The new electric impulse technology works without chemical additives, reduces water consumption, and even contributes to water protection," says Dr. Wolfgang Frey of KIT's Institute for Pulsed Power and Microwave Technology, who coordinates the cooperation project "Dekontamination von industriellen Wässern und Lacken" (DiWaL, Decontamination of industrial water and paints).

By means of electric impulses, cells or microorganisms are exposed to an electric field. The cell membrane is polarized, which means that electric poles form and aqueous pores open. This eventually results in the death of the microorganisms. This phenomenon is used on a large scale for the effective extraction of cell constituents and for killing microorganisms ("cold pasteurization").

As the electric impulses have a purely physical effect, bacteria are not expected to develop resistances, as they do in the case of biocides. "We control microbiological contamination and can achieve an optimum coating quality and prevent rework at the same time," Dr. Frey says.

In automotive industry, painting of the body is the activity with the highest water consumption (up to 600 liters per car body). For this reason, the electric impulse technology is integrated into a new, automated, and resource-efficient water management and plant concept for pre-treatment and immersion painting developed by research and industry partners under DiWaL. By means of this process, the water cycle at the factory is optimized and freshwater consumption is to be reduced. Technical implementation focuses on the aspects of quality, costs, and the environment. The user perspective also is considered highly important. That is why DiWaL analyzes the requirements of the users as well as potential obstacles. The results will then be incorporated in design and technical development.

DiWaL pools the expertise of partners from research (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences) and industry, namely, a plant manufacturer (Eisenmann SE), two paint producers (Emil Frei GmbH & Co. KG and PPG Deutschland Business Support GmbH) as well as an automotive manufacturer (BMW Group).

The project focuses on both surface treatment for automotive industry (cathodic immersion painting) and applications for general industry, e.g. painting of industrial goods by anodic immersion painting. Technical, economic, and ecological framework conditions and requirements are taken into account.

WACKER Strengthens Its Presence in Southeast Asia with a New Technical Center in Indonesia

Wacker Chemie AG is expanding its presence in Southeast Asia by opening a new technical center for construction and adhesives applications in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta today. The technical facility serves as a development and testing laboratory for dispersible polymer powders and dispersions, which are used as binders for the regional building, paint, coatings and adhesives industries. By expanding its local expertise in development, applications technology and service, WACKER is able to optimally support customers and business partners in the region. It is thus further opening up Southeast Asia’s rapidly developing markets for high-quality construction polymers and chemical raw materials.

The reason for this increased commitment to the region is ongoing growth, particularly in the building industry. “Southeast Asia, and Indonesia in particular, offer promising growth opportunities for WACKER. Demand for construction chemical specialties has risen noticeably over recent years, especially for our dispersible polymer powders and dispersions,” said Christian Hartel of WACKER’s Executive Board during the opening ceremony. Since 2007, the company already operates a technical center in Singapore to support customers in the region in the development of new products and applications for electronics, textiles, automotive, coatings, construction and health care products. To meet the increasing customer demands in Indonesia, the Group is investing continuously in its local services and has now established a new competence center in Jakarta. “With the new technical center in Indonesia, we are further expanding our strong market position in the region. This will allow us to optimally support our local customers and partners,” Hartel added.

WACKER already operates a sales subsidiary in Jakarta. The new technical center in Indonesia’s capital now serves as a local development and testing facility for polymer binders for construction and coatings applications. The focus is on formulations containing VINNAPAS® dispersible polymer powders and dispersions. These are used, for instance, in dry-mix mortars for tile adhesives or grouts, in water-proofing membranes for bath rooms, kitchens or basements, or in eco-friendly interior wall paints. The new labs are state-of-the-art and provide equipment for testing products under different climatic and environmental conditions and using different raw materials. Additionally, an outdoor weathering station has been installed to analyze the weathering behavior of polymer-modified exterior coatings. For supplementary analyses, WACKER’s global network of technical centers is also available for consultative support.

“Our aim is to support our customers in the construction industry by realizing their individual requirements directly on the spot. This enables us to develop and test innovative polymeric binder applications tailored to modern construction trends and local raw materials together with them”, explains Patrick de Wolf, Managing Director of WACKER Southeast Asia. “With the new lab, we are significantly contributing to the distribution of modern construction materials in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.”

New Hempel Coatings Offer Added Protection for the Splash-zone

Recognizing the importance of the splash zone, Hempel has launched two variations of a new coating specifically developed to protect these areas, currently available in Europe. Hempadur Multi-strength 35480 and 35482 are two-component, epoxy based, anti-corrosive coatings incorporating overlapping glass flakes to improve resistance to water permeation. Unlike conventional coatings, these two products are almost solvent-free and contain reactive diluents (instead of conventional solvents) to create superior cross-linking properties. This significantly enhances their resistance to corrosion and also avoids the potential for solvent entrapment when applying paint at high dry film thickness.

Having listened carefully to our customers, Hempel decided to offer this new coating in two variations to give a choice of film thicknesses whilst maintaining identical protection. The high solids ratio (99 percent) and low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content also makes them much kinder to the environment.

Commenting on the new products, Hempel’s Oil & Gas Segment Manager, Simon Daly said: “There are many products that have been developed to protect the splash zone, but we are bringing a different technology approach to the market that delivers enhanced protection with minimal environmental impact. Our products are easy to apply and hardness develops quickly during the curing process which allows for quicker handling – this makes them ideally suited to pre-fabricated items”

Hempadur Multi-strength 35480 and 35482 have both been pre-qualified to NORSOK M-501 System 7A and 7B; including extensive testing to ISO 20340:2009 for a variety of relevant corrosion categories.

AkzoNobel Launches New Marine Coatings App

Marine coatings customers will now enjoy anytime, anywhere access to data most critical to them, with the launch of AkzoNobel Marine Coatings’ International mobile app.

The app provides customers with increased convenience and flexibility in accessing the company’s wealth of coatings data. It has been specially designed to provide access to application guides, technical datasheets, product brochures, information cards and regional contacts, as well as social media and blog posts. It is available on the Apple app store.

The app functionality will also allow storage of all relevant data on the user’s device, ensuring instant access, regardless of connectivity. The app will automatically update the latest information so that customers can be assured that they have the latest specifications available at all times.

“This latest development of AkzoNobel’s digital innovation journey demonstrates how we are utilising the latest technology and communications channels to drive customer engagement and significantly improve user experience,” says Oscar Wezenbeek, Managing Director at AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings business. “In building relationships with our customers, we believe it is critical that they are well informed and have instant access to a wealth of information and data, wherever they are, regardless of internet connectivity.”

In addition to technical datasheets, application guidelines and material safety datasheets (MSDS), the app also contains a full version of the most up-to-date cargo resistance guide. This information is essential for chemical tanker operators who need to know which coatings are suitable for specific products. The glossary of terms will be invaluable in helping users keep track of the assortment of acronyms and technical terms used in the world of marine coatings, particularly those new to the industry.

Axalta Recognizes Winner of 2016 Refinish Sustainable Star Award

For Axalta Coating Systems, sustainability involves a commitment to minimize the company’s environmental footprint across its entire spectrum of business activities, from product development and manufacturing, to distribution and waste disposal. Axalta’s Sustainable Star Award program, in its inaugural year, recognizes refinish customers in North America that implement sustainable initiatives to not only benefit the bottom line, but also assist in preserving the environment. Axalta named Marshall Auto Body of Waukesha, Wisconsin the 2016 Sustainable Star Award winner.

Marshall Auto Body is credited with installing energy efficient equipment, motion sensors, and timing controls. The company uses Axalta’s Cromax® Pro waterborne paint, the Greentech Dryers arch system, which dries paint in 53 seconds and reduces gas consumption by more than 70 percent, and has installed three complimentary electric vehicle chargers that are available to the public night and day. In addition, solar panels that help power the shop and provide more than 50 percent of its annual electricity needs comprise 10,000 square feet of Marshall Auto Body’s roof.

“We congratulate Marshall Auto Body for its achievements and commitment to sustainability,” said Mike Carr, Axalta President-North America. “The owners and employees of Marshall embrace sustainable practices and demonstrate how they can have a positive impact on business. It is great to see Axalta’s Cromax Pro waterborne paint system play a key role in a business’ sustainable initiatives.”

“I want to personally thank Axalta and Steve Trapp, Axalta’s North America Services Manager for honoring us with the 2016 Sustainable Star Award,” said Scott Marshall, Owner of Marshall Auto Body. “Protection of the environment is a critical part of our job. The auto industry can make a big difference in the quality of everyone's life by operating sustainably and minimizing wasteful activities. Our industry needs the kind of support that global enterprises like Axalta provide and we appreciate their recognition and partnership in promoting sustainable business practices.”

Axalta recognized Selecta Auto Body of San Francisco, California and Steve’s Frame and Body Shop of Joplin, Missouri as runners-up, in what was a very close competition. Both the winner and runners-up can display the Axalta Sustainable Star Award logo in their shops, on their websites, and in promotional materials.

CMU Creating Touchpads with Can of Spray Paint

Touch sensing is most common on small, flat surfaces such as smartphone or tablet screens. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, however, turn surfaces of a wide variety of shapes and sizes into touchpads using tools as simple as a can of spray paint.

Walls, furniture, steering wheels, toys and even Jell-O can be turned into touch sensors with the technology, dubbed Electrick.

The "trick" is to apply electrically conductive coatings or materials to objects or surfaces or to craft objects using conductive materials. By attaching a series of electrodes to the conductive materials, researchers showed they could use a well-known technique called electric field tomography to sense the position of a finger touch.

"For the first time, we've been able to take a can of spray paint and put a touch screen on almost anything," said Chris Harrison, assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) and head of the Future Interfaces Group. The group will present Electrick at CHI 2017, the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, this week in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Until now, large touch surfaces have been expensive and irregularly shaped or flexible touch surfaces have been largely available only in research labs. Some methods have relied on computer vision, which can be disrupted if a camera's view of a surface is blocked. The presence of cameras also raises privacy concerns.

With Electrick, conductive touch surfaces can be created by applying conductive paints, bulk plastics or carbon-loaded films, such as Desco's Velostat, among other materials.

Yang Zhang, a Ph.D. student in HCII, said Electrick is both accessible to the hobbyists and compatible with common manufacturing methods, such as spray coating, vacuum forming and casting/molding, as well as 3-D printing.

Like many touchscreens, Electrick relies on the shunting effect — when a finger touches the touchpad, it shunts a bit of electric current to ground. By attaching multiple electrodes to the periphery of an object or conductive coating, Zhang and his colleagues showed they could localize where and when such shunting occurs. They did this by using electric field tomography — sequentially running small amounts of current through the electrodes in pairs and noting any voltage differences.

The tradeoff, in comparison to other touch input devices, is accuracy. Even so, Electrick can detect the location of a finger touch to an accuracy of one centimeter, which is sufficient for using the touch surface as a button, slider or other control, Zhang said.

Zhang, Harrison and Gierad Laput, another HCII Ph.D. student, used Electrick to add touch sensing to surfaces as large as a 4-by-8-foot sheet of drywall, as well as objects as varied as a steering wheel, the surface of a guitar and a Jell-O mold of a brain. Even Play-Doh can be made interactive with Electrick.

The technology was used to make an interactive smartphone case — opening applications such as a camera based on how the user holds the phone - and a game controller that can change the position and combinations of buttons and sliders based on the game being played or the player's preferences.

Zhang said the Electrick surfaces proved durable. Adding a protective coating atop the conductive paints and sheeting also is possible.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation supported this research.

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