All colours are beautiful

Offering flexibility that is rarely seen in the aluminium coil coating industry, Metalcolor continues to address market demands, now investing in new equipment that will facilitate the release of a range of sought-after products in 2020

Figures showing the correlation between the growth in volumes and orders for Metalcolor over the last five years, serve as the perfect justification to the strategy followed by the Swiss’ aluminium coil coating specialist. In said period, the company has enjoyed a 25 per cent increase in volume of coatings produced. Where it becomes interesting, however, is that the number of orders in the last half a decade has grown by a staggering 52 per cent.

“We are generating significant growth, which perfectly reflects the flexible approach we have adopted that allows us to produce almost any colour available, in any amount, and in very short lead times,” Sales Director, Richard Haffter, explains.

“Without a doubt, this is our USP. The coating process we have set up, enables us to handle orders much more quickly than our competitors. First and foremost, we do not produce the aluminium coils ourselves, but buy them from various producers. This means that we can keep them in stock and when an order comes in, we just need to coat the coils.

“Then, we have our in-house colour mixing facility to speed up the process further, as we are capable of performing this function on-site, instead of having to outsource it. Our flexibility also manifests itself in that we do not have any standard colours, but produce every order according to the exact requirements of the customer. By this, we also mean that we can serve any quantity. It is perfectly possible to buy as little as 100 kilogrammes of coil-coated aluminium from us, whereas most major coil coaters will require a minimum order of several tonnes. This option really makes the difference in our offering,” Richard discusses.

Three product types make up the range of coatings available from Metalcolor. The MecoClassic meets the demands of contemporary architectural design by offering polyester and polyurethane coatings in an unlimited choice of colours. Specially formulated for outdoor use, these coatings are highly weather and UV-resistant. Furthermore, they boast excellent mechanical proper ties in terms of formability and durability, and the polyurethane coatings are also extremely abrasion-resistant.

“In 2018, we launched MecoElox, which provides an exceptional anodised look combined with the benefits of coil coating,” Richard comments. “The product is extremely resistant to UV and is available as a transparent, non-coloured coating, or with a matt, semi-gloss, or high-gloss finish in unlimited shades of colour.

“We also have MecoProtect, which is actually an additional layer that is applied to the other two products,” he continues. “The technology has been developed to keep aluminium surfaces clean and make them cheaper to maintain, whilst increasing their durability. Unlike classic coatings that are hydrophobic, MecoProtect becomes hydrophilic when activated by UV light. Thanks to its properties, even the smallest quantity of water is sufficient to wet the whole coated surface for the unattached dirt particles to be washed away.”

Metalcolor has formulated its coatings specifically for exterior use and high UV and weather resistance. The company’s coatings are often used in roller shutters, suspended metal ceilings, gutters, cladding, and insect screens. Metalcolor’s biggest market is however outside venetian blinds, with around 60 per cent of the company’s production going into this sector. “It is a market where a lot of the companies from all over Europe buy relatively small batches in various colours. Consequently, they require fast delivery times, which plays nicely to our strengths. While it is always difficult to predict the state of the market in the long-term, there is clearly a need for the construction of many new residential buildings, especially in Western Europe, so we are expecting a further increase in demand in the coming years.”

From a product point of view, Richard has observed that customers are presently growing keen on using more high-durable and ultra-matt coatings. To satisfy this need, Metalcolor is investing in new equipment, as these coating types require more than one layer. He adds: “At the moment, we have two one-layer lines and we are looking to change them into multi-layer ones. Following the revamp, we will launch some new products next year, utilising our newlydeveloped capabilities.”

Metalcolor is cer tified to ISO 50001 and ISO 14001 levels, showing its efficient energy and environmental management. Ongoing factory developments include fur ther steps to making Metalcolor even more environmentally-friendly. The company has recently invested in a new thermal oxidiser to reduce its gas consumption by 30 per cent. Solvent fumes are extracted and incinerated during the entire coating process. This procedure enables it to reduce VOC emissions while drastically cutting its energy consumption and therefore CO2 emissions. Furthermore, excess energy is recuperated and used to heat production, storage halls and office buildings. Currently, Metalcolor is examining the possibilities to recycle the water it uses for the cooling of the strips. “Water in Switzerland is relatively cheap, so most of the companies do not feel under pressure to recycle it, but we know that water waste affects the environment and want to limit its negative impact,” Richard says.

He concludes: “Since the start of 2019, MecoElox has taken off and contributed to an excellent first half of the year. Overall, the demand for our products is very strong and we are incredibly pleased with the way the business is going. We see no reason why we should not continue to grow in the years to come.”

Services: Aluminium coil coating