A friend and I had a long conversation about Titanium Dioxide the other day. It came as the result of on-going discussions about new technology in coatings. But this time it was about how new technology is not without cost. A whole laundry list of coatings companies have announced price increases this year. Some have found themselves in a position to have to do that more than once. The cost of raw materials is the cause. And lest we forget, all of those new resins that I have been talking about were not developed for free. The cost of those raw materials is on the rise as well.

One of those raw materials is titanium dioxide (TIO2). It is the stuff that makes paint white and is literally everywhere. We look at it, we drink it and we spread it on our skin. We swallow it in the contents of our foods and medicines. The bad news for rats and mice seems to be that is not good for them to inhale it. It causes cancer in those guys.

The bad news for us in the shop is that worldwide demand for TIO2 (4 million tons annually) is outstripping the ability to keep prices down. Since November 24, 2010, Crystal Global, Huntsman, and DuPont, three of the world’s largest producers of TIO2 have announced two to three price increases each. Users of raw materials can only absorb these increases for so long before they pass them on to their customers. And so it goes. Resins, polymers, surfactants, and chemicals of all kinds are on the rise.

Seven Fun Facts about Titanium

  • Titanium dioxide is a mined product.
  • It is mined in the U.S. as well as in Australia, India, South Africa and the Ukraine.
  • The U.S. imports TIO2 for paint from Canada, Germany, France, Spain and other nations.
  • It is used in paints, coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (tablets and pills), toothpaste, and food coloring.
  • It is often used in skim milk to whiten it and make it more appealing to the eye.
  • Of the white pigments, it is the most widely used and the brightest white.
  • Because it is an effective opacifier, it is used in sunscreens as well as in makeup. It is also an effective UV absorber.

Until next time…spray on!

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