We want to be leading in everything we do. This particularly concerns our innovative products, which conserve resources and protect the climate. We help our customers manufacture with low emissions and energy-efficiently and enhance the safety of their products.

“We set standards and open up new markets for our customers”

One in a Million

Night Blue, Pompeii Gray, or Frozen Bronze – these may sound like the current trend colors in the fall/winter collection, but they are not. They are the latest and most fashionable metallic car colors. The days are over when customers could order any color as long as it was black. Today, customers can choose from thousands of shades. Shimmering glitter tones are at the top of consumers’ wish lists right now. But the challenge begins when the car has to be repainted after getting a scratch.

The human eye can differentiate about ten million colors. However, perception is a very subjective matter, influenced by the surrounding colors, the degree of brightness, and the eye itself. Above all, our perception of metallic colors changes, depending on the angle they are viewed from.

For such cases, AkzoNobel, one of the world’s leading paint manufacturers, has relied on the spectrophotometers of BYK-Gardner for more than ten years. For determining metallic colors, in particular, the two companies developed a special multi-angle spectrophotometer for car repair shops around ten years ago. It records the paint finish with a fixed light source and analyzes the color using detectors from different measuring angles. In this way, data are obtained for perfect color matching. In 2011, the time had come to develop a new generation of devices.

From Idea to Successful Product

BYK-Gardner wanted the new spectrophotometer to be more precise and handier than its predecessor, yet affordable for smaller paint shops and compatible with AkzoNobel’s color-matching software Mixit. Research and development employees of the two companies got down to work. BYK-Gardner was responsible for the design concept and measurement optics, and programmed the interface to the user software. AkzoNobel developed the operating concept, the user menu, and the touchscreen. In 2014, AkzoNobel brought the Automatchic Vision (AMV) onto the market. “We set new standards with the device,” says Dr. Stephanie Arzt, key account manager at BYK-Gardner. “Due to the new technologies employed, we were able to achieve even more precise measurement accuracy and user friendliness.”

The AMV is the very first WiFi-capable multiangle spectrophotometer. It is placed right on the vehicle. The data recorded can then be sent via WLAN to the repairshop computer. Subsequently, the software determines the exact color formulation in just a few seconds, even when it comes to very sophisticated metallic colors.

From Supplier to Partner

Like most global companies, AkzoNobel has significantly reduced the number of its suppliers in recent years in order to bundle its purchasing volume, to harmonize processes, and to cut costs. In this chain, ALTANA considers itself a partner that supports AkzoNobel with knowhow and innovative ability. The keyword is cooperation. “We are close to our customers, think along with them, and identify and use optimization opportunities,” says Dr. Stephanie Arzt, describing the cooperation. Research and development are particularly important: ALTANA invests six percent of its sales in work on new products and applications every year, far above the industry average. With an eye to the future, the teams at AkzoNobel and BYK-Gardner are discussing new application areas for the AMV outside the automotive refinish sector. The objective: to set new standards once again.

In 2011, Stephanie Arzt began working in ALTANA Corporate Innovation as a participant in the so-called Cross Divisional Development Program. She was involved in numerous projects and became acquainted with different ALTANA divisions. These experiences were advantageous to Arzt, who holds a PhD in chemistry, when she switched to Key Account Management two years later. “I really enjoy collaborating closely with customers and developing new solutions with them.” Dr. Arzt has benefited in the Effect Pigments and Additives segments not least of all from the coatings expertise of her colleagues at ECKART and BYK, who also supply to AkzoNobel.


A scratch in car paint is annoying enough. So it is all the more important to use the exactly right color when repainting it. In close cooperation with its longtime customer AkzoNobel, BYK-Gardner experts have developed an innovative spectrophotometer for this purpose. With Automatchic Vision and the appropriate software from AkzoNobel, automotive paint shops can determine the perfect color formulation within a very short time. The device has set standards: It evaluates the color from different angles of observation and transfers the data obtained via WiFi to the PC.

PVC-free closures thanks to Provalin

Plasticizers in PVC closures have many disadvantages. When they come into contact with oily and fatty foods they may migrate and thus can be deleterious to consumers‘  health. In addition, there is the danger that when the packaging is incinerated, dioxins will be emitted. In the mid-2000s, when Feinkost Dittmann was looking for an innovative partner to develop PVC-free closures for its   gourmet foods packaged in glass jars, they found one in ACTEGA DS. Ten years ago, the gourmet food manufacturer and the sealant specialist pooled their resources and were joined by the closure manufacturer Pano to form an unusual triad. The cooperation has set standards in the food packaging industry. Feinkost Dittmann, the market leader for gourmet delicacies in Germany, was the first company in its sector worldwide to introduce PVC-free closures for its products. 

Such innovative closures have been made possible by Provalin. Under this brand name, ACTEGA DS sells thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) that can be used to manufacture PVC-free and thus plasticizer-free sealing compounds for glass jar lids. Consumers recognize this from the blue seal inside the lid.

Provalin is suitable for both hot and cold filling of foods. Moreover, it can withstand the high temperatures that arise during sterilization and pasteurization. Last but not least, it guarantees that no undesired substances migrate from the TPE into the food over a longer period. Hence Provalin is ideal for packaging oily and fatty foods such as olives and antipasti.

The innovation met with a tremendous response in the industry. Experts rewarded the partners‘ commitment with the German Packaging Prize 2011. Consumers were also thrilled. Eight of ten consumers buy gourmet food closed with the blue seal. 

Resource conservation and climate protection with crown corks

There are many ways to conserve resources. For example, the function of a product can make a contribution.

A composite material developed by ACTEGA DS helps crown cork manufacturers reduce the amount of raw material they need. The new material enables them to save 0.4 grams of steel per bottle top without making concessions to quality. With four billion crown corks a year, this corresponds to savings of 1,600 tons of steel.

The most recent example is also Energysafe pigments from our division ECKART, which were developed expressly for plastic applications. These pigments reflect sunlight, thus preventing plastics from heating up. This can reduce the energy consumption, say, of airconditioning systems in cars or homes. Scientists from Arizona State University found that in hot, arid regions, so-called “cool roofs” have a more positive effect on the climate than green roofs.

Another way to save resources is to conserve materials during the manufacture of products. This especially applies to the new Platalux pigments from ECKART. They consist of flakes of glass coated with silver. ECKART developed a method that uses the precious metal especially efficiently during the manufacture of flakes.

When BYK develops additives that make surfaces more scratch resistant, this prolongs their lifespan. Thus, we view surface additives such as Ceraflour 925, BYK TS3200, and the Nanobyk products 3620 and 3630 as contributingto sustainability. The adhesion promoter BYK 4510 also meets this requirement, as it improves the corrosion protection of baking systems.

Finally, renewable materials save precious resources, as BYK’s “Greenability” portfolio shows. For example the defoamer BYK A-505 and the styrene emissions reducer BYK S-760 both consist chiefly of renewable raw materials.

Another possibility of conserving resources is to reduce the amount of energy needed to process our products. The patented cure indicator that ELANTAS has started offering recently with its impregnating varnishes shows users exactly when the insulating layer has hardened, saving time, energy, and money. The rapidly hardening impregnating varnishes that ELANTAS Beck India developed to insulate low-voltage motors also serve this purpose.

Climate protection thanks to digital printing

More and more packaging manufacturers are using digital printing for design purposes. This future-oriented technology is particularly suitable for flexible packaging such as folding boxes, stand-up boxes, and tubes. ACTEGA manufactures special coatings for these applications, including overprint varnishes and primers. They are marketed under the brand ACTDigi and our customers have shown great interest in them.

In view of the numerous economic and ecological advantages (among other things, digital printing uses much less ink and produces less waste), ACTEGA decided to make digital printing products a focal point of its business activities. 

ACTEGA formed an internationally operating team consisting of researchers and application technologists who work on advancing customer-oriented applications for digital printing. Laboratory capacities have been made available to them in Germany and the U.S. ALTANA’s cooperation with Landa Digital Printing is also helping grow this portfolio.

Insulation with Monomer-Free Resins

Whether it‘s for a wind turbine or a conveyor system, a drill or a hairdryer - motors in small electrical devices and in large plants need insulation for their electrical coils. The insulation is applied in the last manufacturing step. In an impregnating plant, the motors are dipped in the insulating material, which has to harden in a special oven. Traditionally, the hardening phase has required a great deal of energy and produced substantial emissions. The oven continually needs fresh air, which has to be warmed up. At the same time, the hardening process generates emissions that have to be filtered out using special exhaust air purification systems. This is particularly the case with solvent-based impregnating resins used in conventional procedures. For many years now, researchers at ELANTAS Europe have been working to reduce the energy consumption and emissions of their insulating materials. To this end, they initially developed so-called impregnating resins under the brand name Dobeckan. These products contain unsaturated polyester resins instead of solvent-based formulations. This alone reduced emissions considerably. In addition, less energy is needed, since the resins harden at lower temperatures and in a shorter time than conventional coatings.

Powder coatings reduce emissions

Many of our customers in the coatings industry rely on low-emission products. Thus, water-based systems are now the center of interest rather than conventional solventbased systems. We support this trend with our additives and pigments for water-based coatings. 

Powder coatings are being used increasingly in industrial applications, particularly on metallic substrates. When they are processed, less waste is produced because the powder almost completely melts into the coating. 

Thanks to new developments in recent years, we have been able to reduce the energy needed for application of powder coatings. As a consequence, the climate-relevant CO2 emissions of powder coatings can be reduced by 25 to 60 percent, depending on the thickness of the coating layer, compared to solvent-based systems.

Our companies support this trend. In addition to special aluminum- and pearlescent-based effect pigments, ECKART also offers a so-called bonding service at its Hartenstein and Painesville sites. With the service, our customers’ basic powder coating products are processed with effect pigments. 

BYK has a diversified additives portfolio that meets virtually all requirements when it comes to optimizing powder coating products and processes. It consists of wetting, dispersing, rheology, and surface additives that improve gloss and scratch resistance. In the U.S. and Europe, a number of these additives have been approved to come into contact with foods.