Leading in everything we do – this applies particularly to the ALTANA Group’s diverse products. Innovative and sustainable solutions for our customers make an important contribution toward strengthening our competitive position and conserving resources.
The ALTANA Group’s products offer customers around the world specialty chemical solutions that make products used in daily life better and more sustainable. This helps boost our customers’ competitiveness. The ALTANA Group’s innovative strength gives its stakeholders decisive added value. One solution providing the necessary added value is METALURE® Liquid Black, an ECKART effect pigment with unique liveliness and gloss. But the spectacular effect is not the only aspect that is impressive. The product has a wide range of uses in both aqueous and solvent-based coating systems, and, last but not least, improves automobile recyclability in accordance with the new norms.
“TURNING MOLECULES AROUND”
ECKART, the effect pigment specialist in the ALTANA Group, has successfully proved its innovativeness with METALURE® Liquid Black – and created the necessary added value for our customers.
Complete light absorption makes objects look matte-black. Now ECKART has managed to find the optimal compromise between absorption and metallic reflection. The unique effect pigment METALURE® Liquid Black combines a deep black appearance with high metallic gloss.
For the patented effect pigment, ECKART uses chrome, which, coupled with an elaborate metallization process, enables a deep-dark, jet-black mirror effect. “We discovered this highly dramatic effect when we dealt intensively with the question of how to achieve new effects with the smallest pieces of metal and thus expand the color space,” says Dieter Prölß, head of Technology and Process Development at ECKART.
The Idea: Chrome Instead of Aluminum
Before the invention of METALURE® Liquid Black, the PVD (physical vapor deposition) standard pigment portfolio was based on aluminum. The metal is evaporated in semi-transparent layers on a film, removed, and subsequently reduced to the desired pigment size. However, the pigments should not only become more and more brilliant, but also darker for a silvery shine and ever thinner. But in using aluminum ECKART came up against a natural physical border, as the metal cannot be evaporated to become as thin as desired.
An alternative was needed. “We got the idea of trying it with chrome,” says Wolfgang Herzing, the group manager at the technology center. The metal chrome is characterized by high chemical stability and its high metallic gloss, known particularly from the automotive sector (on trim, for example).
Chrome is evaporated onto a film reactively in an oxygen atmosphere; the further pigment manufacture occurs analogous to the process of manufacturing PVD aluminum pigments. Since demand for the product is currently increasing, the production capacities were already expanded.
Highly Dramatic Effect
The patented effect pigment METALURE® Liquid Black has a wide range of uses. It can be applied to coat outdoor objects (for instance, automobile bodies) and also has applications in the premium consumer goods segment. For example, it can be used to coat speedometers in the automotive industry. It is not only the highly dramatic “black metallic effect” that is impressive, but also the color fastness under strong UV light.
Years of Research and Development Work
ECKART did several years of research and development work before the product reached market maturity – or, as Dr. Klaus Greiwe, Product Manager Added Value at ECKART, says: “Turned around molecules.” This was possible because the ALTANA Group had allocated the resources needed for many years of research and development.
“The framework conditions are right at ALTANA,” says Dr. Klaus Greiwe. In addition, there is entrepreneurial thinking, which includes stamina. Says Wolfgang Herzing: “Despite the considerable efforts we had to make at the beginning, we didn’t throw in the towel. With our determination, inventiveness, and persistence we created METALURE® Liquid Black and thus provided our stakeholders with the necessary added value.”