The global pigments market will see a wide range of trends between now and 2021, including a boost in popularity for solar-reflective pigments, according to Technavio, a market research firm.

“One of the key factors resulting in the growth of the global pigments market is the increased demand for effect or solar-reflective pigments,” says a new report from Techanavio. “Effect pigments are characteristic of differentiated appearance. The automotive industry is expected to benefit from the superior properties of effect pigments. Solar radiation is one of the prime reasons for heat buildup. Solar reflective pigments are becoming increasingly popular as they combat the heat island effect in urban areas.”

But solar-reflective pigments aren’t the only ones poised to spark demand over the next five years. Biopigments are also leading the charge.

“Organic pigments have become the preferred choice for informed manufacturers and health- and safety-conscious consumers,” says Technavio. “This has further resulted in the increased use of organic pigments, irrespective of the price component.”

Technavio notes that inorganic pigments often contain lead, chromium, and cadmium, elements that are a cause for concern among consumers.

“Although they provide excellent colorfastness, the environmental implications of these inorganic pigments are a matter of concern. Recently, trends have shifted such that bio-based raw materials are being used that significantly reduce the VOC [volatile organic compounds],” says the Technavio report.

The use of bio-based raw materials has another advantage, according to Hitesh Bhatia, a lead analyst with Technavio.

“The efficient use of bio-based raw material has an additional advantage for manufacturers,” Bhatia says. “Manufacturers can be shielded from the volatile oil prices that, in turn, will significantly reduce the supply chain risk. In addition, the carbon footprint is reduced, as the amount of new carbon released is restricted. Hence, it helps keep a check on the carbon cycle as well.”

Paint and coatings manufacturers are big users of pigments. Even though inorganic pigments are known to exhibit elastic properties and have uses in applications that require metallic finishes, pigment makers are beginning to reduce the use of lead compounds in specialized industrial paints, according to Technavio.

“Low-VOC containing paints and coatings are increasingly gaining prominence as volatile hydrocarbons are known to cause pollution,” the report says.

Even so, labeling standards have not yet been set, despite the fact that non-toxic paints are often labeled as low-VOC, no-VOC, VOC-free, natural, or organic.

Organic and natural pigments are gaining in popularity, but inorganic pigments are still being used increasingly to enhance aesthetics and the functional properties are paints and plastics. They provide protection against inclement weather, dampness, corrosion, fungi, and other destructive construction influences.

“Some inorganic pigments are used as plasticizer-dampened powders that enable functional benefits such as light refraction, opacity, and gas and vapor barrier, along with providing heat-reflecting properties. These functionalities provide value addition and enhance the visual appearance,” says Bhatia.