Iron oxide pigments are colorants extensively used in tinting and coloring applications. In terms of global usage, they are second only to TiO2 pigments. The construction sector is the primary end-user of iron oxide, followed by paints & coatings and plastics. Other applications include paper & pulp, inks, rubbers, and ceramics. Iron oxide pigments are available in various colors and shades. These pigments are obtained naturally in ore forms such as hematite, magnetite, limonite, sienna, ochre, goethite, and umber. They are also synthetically produced through three prime processes: iron salt precipitation, thermal deposition of iron compounds, and organic compound reduction by iron.
Rapid expansion of paints & coatings and building & construction industries – the former specifically in developing nations such as China, India, and South Korea, and the latter due to urbanization and industrialization – has propelled the iron oxide pigments market. These pigments exhibit excellent properties of dispersibility, opacity, tinting strength, stability, and consistency over its alternatives, thereby gaining importance across all industries, including plastics and inks.
Based on color, the iron oxide pigments market can be divided into five categories: red, yellow, brown, black, and others. A multitude of shades are also obtainable, but they are essentially created by mixing the red, yellow, and black ones.
Black iron oxide pigments are widely used in building & construction applications, and therefore dominate the market, while the red variety is used in paints and coatings. Based on type, the market has been bifurcated into natural and synthetic – although the latter is purer and has a potentially broader application range, the former is preferred due to its low extraction costs and easy availability. In terms of application, the iron oxide pigments market is split into the following segments: building & construction, paints & coatings, plastics, paper & pulp, ceramics, surface finishing, abrasives, and others. A high amount of iron oxide is employed in the building & construction industry to color mortar and concrete, pavement blocks, and bricks. This is followed by the paints & coatings industry, wherein iron oxide is used to induce color in paints, coatings, and emulsions.
Based on region, the iron oxide pigments market has been segmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Asia Pacific constitutes major share of the market due to the burgeoning building & construction industry and robust growth in the paints & coatings industry in China, India, and ASEAN. Thus, the region is expected to remain the prominent consumer of iron oxide pigments during the forecast period. Demand for iron oxide pigments is substantial in Europe as well, due to significant requirements from the paints & coatings industry. Western Europe has been leading the demand for iron oxide pigments in Europe since the last few years. This trend is anticipated to continue during the forecast period. Middle East & Africa is also projected to exhibit ample growth opportunities for the iron oxide pigments market in the next few years.
The global iron oxide pigments market is mature; it displays consolidated structure, except for the market in Asia Pacific, which has large number of manufacturers. Key players operating in the iron oxide pigments market include BASF SE, Clariant, Lanxess AG, The Earth Pigments Company LLC., CATHAY INDUSTRIES, Tata Pigments Limited, and Huntsman Corporation. These companies are developing various processes and techniques to synthesize more functional iron oxide pigments.
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