AkzoNobel: 140 years of more than just making powder

November 19, 2021 | 10:39
AkzoNobel, the global leader in paints and coatings, has been innovating day-by-day to meet customer needs with high quality powder coatings under the brand name Interpon, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. Maximilien Schréder, regional commercial director for the Powder Coatings business in South Asia, shared with VIR's Mai Dang the company’s latest developments in powder coatings solutions.
AkzoNobel: 140 years of more than just making powder
Maximilien Schréder, regional commercial director for Powder Coatings business in South Asia

Interpon has a rich history with innovative solutions and global distribution. Could you share about its key milestones, especially in the Asia and Vietnam market?

Interpon was established 140 years ago in Europe and has been in the Asian market for decades. Today, we provide powder coatings solutions to an extensive range of industry sectors including architectural, automotive, general trade coaters (GTC), functional and industrial and consumer covering many sub-segments like furniture, general industrial, IT, and home appliances, among others. Our powder coatings business has 29 manufacturing sites in 21 countries and offices and representatives in more than 70 countries worldwide. Our products decorate and protect some of the most famous buildings globally, as well as residential buildings, technology, vehicle components, metal furniture, and household appliances.

Interpon is the product line with the highest growth rate of AkzoNobel in Southeast Asia. Vietnam is our key market and also a manufacturing hub in the region with a laboratory and a major plant at the company’s site in Dong Nai. Products manufactured here serve not only domestic demand but also other regional markets.

What philosophy has the company been following throughout its innovation journey?

Since our first powder coatings for architectural applications in 1972, we have been constantly innovating to provide more solutions for our customers. Innovation, sustainability, performance, and reliability define our value proposition and enable us to build many long-lasting partnerships with our customers.

We have an ongoing commitment to invest in sustainability as part of our vision for a cleaner and healthier world. Our powder coatings products are designed to reduce their environmental impact, improve air quality and reduce energy use in urban environments.

Consistency of finish, operational efficiency, and price are often of greater concern to fabricators, but powder coatings delivers on all three counts. The latest generation of our high-performance products protect architectural designs for up to 30 years and come with performance warranties backed with industry certifications at approved applicators.

Our powder coatings are used to decorate, protect, and preserve thousands of products in the consumer space and small to big industries. Many of our products are used on internationally recognised brands. These are trusted by our customers to brighten, protect, and preserve their buildings, offices, factories, and products.

These core values continue to define our strategy and behaviours in the future, especially in sustainability when the company has set a clear ambition to reduce its carbon emissions by 50 per cent in 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.

Could you share more about how Interpon is leveraging the use of sustainable raw materials and eliminating materials of concern?

Although powder coatings are inherently sustainable as no solvents are used compared and its performance is equivalent to liquid paints, we strive to make constant improvements. The consumption of natural resources is, of course, a major concern, especially when it comes to one of the planet’s most precious commodities – water. We are working hard to reduce freshwater consumption and use recycled water wherever possible.

We are similarly looking to reduce the amounts of raw materials used in developing the end products or create products based on recycled or renewable raw materials. We have joined forces with suppliers to drive the use of bio-based materials, recycled content, or raw materials produced with renewable energy. We have also significantly reduced or eliminated volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic heavy metals such as lead or chromium (VI) in our products.

By imitating materials such as wood, stone, and metal, Interpon is helping to protect the planet’s natural resources and mitigate the environmental impact of buildings. Interpon D STF enables designers to give aluminium the appearance of wood through the innovation of printed film and sublimation technology.

Interpon D Stone Effect finish provides a viable alternative to stone and concrete, as well as reducing the challenges and costs that come with installing these materials. It provides super durable protection against even the most challenging environments. Interpon D Anodic III Metallic Finish allows architects to create stand-out matt and metallic finishes with a minimal environmental impact compared to anodised aluminium.

The benefits of powder coatings extend beyond their manufacturing. The product's application is also a vital factor: new powder coatings are developed to achieve the same results with a thinner layer of powder. This increases processing speeds and production throughput which results in greater efficiency and lower energy consumption. Designing powder coatings that consider the entire product lifecycle from start to finish is transforming the way such coatings are perceived.

Finally, powder coatings really support sustainability by offering an object or building that last back by warranty powder with proven weathering, corrosion, abrasion, and chemicals protection. The less frequently a building needs to be replaced, the better for the environment.

Could you share about the latest technologies that Interpon designed for the Vietnamese market?

Last year, we launched Interpon D STF in Vietnam, which is equipped with the Sublimation Transfer Finish (STF) method to camouflage one material to look like another, a natural-looking timber effect can be created by applying powder coatings to architectural metalwork. The solution combines the look of wood with the long-lasting durability of metal to address Vietnamese demand for both of them.

Interpon D X-Pro powder coatings is based on highly reliable Interpon D technology, but now with improved mar/scratch resistance. Interpon D X-Pro brings better service life to objects and optimises their aesthetic appearance. There is a solution for minimising scratches during handling, transportation, and assembly of coated pieces.

We also offer to the market the Interpon Metallic effect range through bonding technology. It is a trend seen at design fairs, in graphic design, as well as architecture and interior decor, and metallics add flair. They create elements of light and shade, bringing warmth and texture to all types of surfaces. Metallics are beautiful, timeless and sophisticated. Prior to that, we introduced to Vietnamese customers the Interpon D range which is well placed to meet the technical, aesthetic, and environmental demands of even the most challenging projects. AkzoNobel was the first global powder coatings supplier to obtain the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for our premium Interpon D (D1036, D2025 and D3020). The recently renewed EPD for the Interpon D range of architectural powder coatings lasts until 2023.

The market is constantly changing, especially in the new normal after the global pandemic. How would it affect the development of powder coatings?

In the post-COVID-19 industry, there is a reassessment of construction plans to push on with sustainability efforts. Powder coatings are likely to be able to meet the predominant social and economic needs, such as sustainability, safety, low energy consumption, and cost-efficiency. In addition, powder coatings’ durability and wide range of colour offerings and finishes are helping it grow the fastest in the architectural and building segment.

Businesses also have to adapt the way they supply and serve consumers and digital tools is a top priority. Interpon has several digital applications to assist customers including the AkzoNobel Design 2.0 app and e-commerce. These easy-to-access and convenient apps make searching, selecting, consulting and ordering our powder coatings products simpler from all over the world.

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