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issue: January 2004 APPLIANCE Magazine

2004 Materials Forecasts
Finishing Materials - Shifting Coatings Markets

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by David Simpson, Contributing Editor

The finishing materials industry contends with the dilemma of cost control.


2004 Materials Forecasts
In porcelain enamel, Cullen Hackler, executive director for the Porcelain Enamel Institute (Norcross, GA, U.S.), sees continuing growth in barbecue grills and woodburning stoves, plus slight growth in major appliances. At one U.S. company, some range parts have been converted back to P/E to better withstand high temperatures and cleaning.

"Overall, we see adequate frit supply to meet the market needs," he says. "On the cost side, there is continuing pressure from raw materials and fuels. But the frit makers are not as dependent on petroleum as some other materials, such as plastics or organic coatings. I expect the price increases will generally be small percentages."

"We are starting to hear better things about current conditions, and are anticipating the U.S. economy will be up about 2 to 2.5 percent in 2004," says Jack McMahon, president of frit supplier Pemco International (Baltimore, MD, U.S.). "For the U.S. market, the frit picture has been mixed. On one hand, some plumbing and cookware lines are closing down. On the other hand, some of the traditional major appliance companies are picking up production rates. There is also the startup of new cooking appliance enameling lines at BSH in North Carolina," he adds.

"Our raw materials suppliers have been struggling with costs, just like us. The entire industry is faced with the dilemma of cost control...."
Larry Bauer of DuPont Powder Coatings U.S.A., Inc.

"There were no issues in product availability for our industrial coatings in 2003," states Thomas W. Hoenle, director of Industrial Coatings at BASF Corporation, Industrial Coatings (Batavia, IL, U.S.). "Pricing continued to be under significant pressure for the year."

For the next year, he says, "Product availability will not be a problem for industrial coatings. However, pressure on suppliers for lower prices will continue even with the expected escalation in raw material costs." He adds that he sees a growth trend in the use of coil coatings for appliances, and that these coatings are a core focus for his company.

"We are beginning to see signs of life among our customer base," says Larry Bauer, marketing manager for DuPont Powder Coatings U.S.A., Inc. (Houston, TX, U.S.). "Although powder coatings have matured so there are not as many conversions as in the past, we've seen some renewed interest. There has also been considerable interest in vacuum metalization, which can replace chrome plating."


"A big concern in the U.S. is that a lot of work is now being done overseas. Job shops in particular are struggling with offshore competition."
Cullen Hackler of the Porcelain Enamel Institute

Overall, it looks like a promising year for appliances, with economists generally predicting good economic growth. But appliance producers should expect to see no let up in the intense competition they already face. And, as many of their suppliers are indicating, they should also anticipate a challenging materials supply picture, and plan accordingly.


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