January 25, 2022
By Srinivasa Rao, Regional Commercial Director, Indian Sub-Continent (ISC) & Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
In 2017, Chromaflo established its manufacturing facility in Mumbai India primarily to service customers in the architectural and industrial coatings market. Over the last four years, however, Chromaflo has diversified its product offering and is now able to support additional opportunities in the composites market.
The composites market in India is still developing, with most of the manufacturers using outdated technology for coloring. These processes result in a final product that is more functional than aesthetic. There is very little focus or investment in the use of MgO thickener or coloring of final product. Instances of small-time composite manufacturers adding MgO dry power for viscosity build-up in SMC and BMC preparation is a common trend. Similarly, the use of dry pigments highspeed mixed with UPR for hand layup is also a common sight. Unlike the coatings industry, decision-makers in the composites industry are rarely from a background in coatings. Most often, they are engineers designing the finished product with limited knowledge of color or color science.
Given these market characteristics, it has been a challenge to introduce a product that is technically superior and results in a better-finished product.
Chromaflo Technologies India has been interacting with its composites customers to introduce better products that offer a consistent finish and an improvement process.
While the Chromaflo team has faced strong headwind in the process, they are pleased with the progress they have made so far.
Offering color dispersion to the composites industry in India is a challenge. Due to the factors stated above, the available color choices to customers are limited. Shades are factory-made and supplied. This leads to batch-to-batch variation, delayed supplies for new shades, and small order quantity.
Chromaflo has developed Plasticolors® GTS colorants, which are highly controlled polyester masstones that allow for batch consistency and automated dispensing. GTS thermoset colorants are designed for both volumetric and gravimetric dispensing. This gives the end-user the flexibility to utilize the colorants for in-plant or POS tinting for polyester application such as SMC, BMC and Gel Coats.
Chromaflo’s approach for GTS in India was to develop a localized set of mass-tone colors and develop a database for popular shades and a RAL fan deck. Having confirmed the colorants passed all requirements, including stability in an industrial dispenser as well as dispersibility of colorants, the Chromaflo team approached the market with the concept of tinting directly on-site rather than relying on factory-made shades.
The results have been promising.
The Chromaflo team has successfully converted several customers who have since invested in dispensing machines, and then set up the infrastructure and training of manpower to tint at their site.
Though the tinting approach offers many benefits, it can be difficult to get the customer to see the advantages of the system. The initial investment is a hurdle to overcome, particularly in markets that is extremely cost-sensitive, but for those that recognize the benefits of color on demand, Chromaflo’s Indian GTS system provides a cost-effective solution.