The annual ALTANA Innovation Award honors the most promising new developments of the global specialty chemicals group. In 2021, the ECKART division won the prize for the second time in a row. It went to a technology for the development of a completely new product family of SiO2-encapsulated metallic effect pigments used in different areas of the automotive industry.

SiO2, or silicon dioxide, is one of the materials used for coating metallic effect pigments used in automotive waterborne paints. The team that developed the product family, consisting of Dr. Oliver Bedford, Frank Hippmann, Dr. Dirk Schumacher, and Dr. Oliver Struck, devised a novel technology for the production of the pigments.

The patented technology can be applied to both classically ball-milled and PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) pigments. The special feature is the modification of the pigment surface with the help of oligomeric silanes.

The new product group meets all of the automotive industry’s criteria and regulations regarding ecologically compatible coatings, ALTANA says. In addition, it has better intercoat adhesion and antiflocculation properties. As a result, the coating is more robust and exhibits very high stability in waterborne automotive applications. The novel metallic effect pigments have improved optical properties and thus excellent overall performance.

This gives suppliers and manufacturers in the automotive industry more flexibility in their use of water-based coatings, the company says, such as more freedom and security with regard to the binders used. In actual applications, including in rim coating, the pigments’ optimized performance results in more robust, longer-lasting products without the typical weak points.

A jury from all of ALTANA’s divisions selected the ECKART development for the award. Criteria were the related creativity, cost-effectiveness and, above all, sustainability.

“The winning team impressively demonstrated the great innovative strength characteristic of ALTANA,” says Dr. Petra Severit, Chief Technology Officer. “It is particularly noteworthy that the award-winning solution is already successfully asserting itself on the market. Given the growing market for water-based coatings, the innovation has a trendsetting effect for the entire industry because it offers interesting perspectives for everyone involved.”