Color pigments are broadly classified in two segments: organic and inorganic color pigments. The market for inorganic color pigments is further divided based on their source as iron oxide, cadmium based pigments, chrome pigments and several others. Chrome pigments are largely derived from lead compounds and have a range of properties such as high color strength, high solubility, highly concentrated and non reactive making chrome pigments apposite for applications such as paints and coatings, inks, plastics, rubber, detergents and soaps, ceramics and polishes. The market for chrome pigments was initially dominated by North America and other developed regions; however there is shift in global trend largely due to increased environmental regulations over inorganic pigments. The current market for chrome pigments is largely dominated by China followed by North America and other countries across globe. Countries present in Asia Pacific such as India, Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to have a stable or upward trend for chrome pigments principally due to the low cost of chrome pigments and non-stringent environmental regulations in the region.
Chrome pigments require large number of minerals for their preparation. Industrially they are prepared through precipitation of lead salts with chromate or bi-chromate solution; however toxic heavy metal such as lead is obtained as a waste or byproduct. Chrome pigments with their properties such as high color strength make them suitable in applications such as paints and coatings. The global requirement of paints and coatings in architectural paints and corrosion paints has shown an upward trend in recent years. The reason behind this upward trend is rapid urbanization and other infrastructural upgrades. Thus, it would help the market of chrome pigments to flourish in emerging economies. Chrome pigments also find their application in printing inks, plastics, rubber and textiles mainly due to their property of stability and color fastness. Growth of these sectors will boost the requirement for chrome pigments. The market for chrome pigments in terms of product segment can be divided as light yellow chrome pigment, middle chrome pigment, primrose chrome pigment, lemon chrome pigment and scarlet chrome pigment (molybdated orange). Each of these chrome pigments find several applications based on their properties. Lemon chrome pigment which is greenish yellow in color and contains sulphate content of around 20% to 40% is used in diverse industrial segments but mainly as a painting reagent. Excellent weather resistance properties make lemon chrome pigment suitable in coatings and PVC leather. Lead chromate which contains negligible traces of sulfate is industrially known as scarlet chrome pigment. It finds application in printing inks and paints. Middle chrome pigment has a reddish yellow hue and monoclinic structure. With its weather resistance properties, it is extensively used in coatings and PVC leather. Primrose chrome pigment is pale yellow in color. It has lead sulfate content of around 44% to 55% and its major application includes paints and inks.
The properties of chrome pigments make them suitable in several applications. However, the formation of lead, as a residual toxic during the production of chrome pigments, makes them vulnerable to available substitutes. The current market volume for chrome pigments in developed regions is phasing out owing to the increasing use of organic pigments and other non-toxic color pigments. The increased environmental regulations across several regions have led to drop in requirement of these pigments. On other hand, the market for chrome pigments is anticipated to show a steady growth in BRIC nations and other developing nations in Middle East chiefly due cheaper cost of these pigments and non-stringent environmental regulations. China has been the largest market of the chrome pigments owing to its increased demand for coatings and paints used in various industries and the trend is expected to continue into the fprecast period.
Some of the major companies operating in the chrome pigments market are BASF SE, Berger Paints India Limited, Kansai Nerolac Paints Limited, Akzonobel NV, E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Company, Inc and Lanxess AG among others.
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