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Filler Masterbatch 101

What Is The Filler Masterbatch?

Filler masterbatch is a specialized additive used in plastic and polymer processing to incorporate fillers into the base polymer effectively. The filler masterbatch consists of carrier resin(normally based on Polyolefin), filler material(such as calcium carbonate, talc, or glass fibers), and optional additives. Filler masterbatch is called “filler” masterbatch because its primary function is to “fill” or “bulk up” plastic materials with various types of fillers, used to replace a portion of the primary plastic resin in the final product. 

Filler Masterbatch

Its main purpose is to enhance or modify the mechanical, thermal, or cost-related properties of the plastic, and improve characteristics like strength, stiffness, heat resistance, or density. 

What Is The Function Of Filler Masterbatch?

The primary function of filler masterbatch is to enhance or modify the properties of plastic materials. Filler masterbatch is used in various plastic manufacturing processes, including blown film, injection molding, and extrusion. It is applied in many industries and used in the production of a wide range of plastic products, from thin films to thick sheets, increasing chemical properties and improving production productivity.

Function And Application of Filler Masterbatch

Strength Enhancement

Filler masterbatch can improve the tensile strength, flexural strength, UV resistance and overall mechanical properties of the plastic, making it stronger, and more durable and extending its service life. It can be used in a variety of consumer products such as toys, home appliances, furniture, and auto parts.

Stiffness Improvement

It increases the stiffness and rigidity of plastic products, allowing them to maintain their shape and structural integrity. For example, it is used for the production of packaging materials such as films, containers, and bags. It enhances the stiffness and cost-efficiency of packaging products. Filler masterbatch is incorporated into construction materials like pipes, profiles, and roofing materials to enhance their structural integrity and reduce production costs.

Density Adjustment

Filler masterbatch can modify the density of plastic materials, either increasing or decreasing them to meet specific requirements. In aerospace applications, filler masterbatch can be used to improve the performance and lightweight properties of certain plastic components.

Improved Processing

It enhances the processing characteristics of plastics, such as melt flow and mold filling, leading to more efficient manufacturing processes.

Dimensional Stability

Filler masterbatch minimizes shrinkage and warping during cooling and solidification, ensuring better dimensional stability in plastic products.

Heat Resistance & Flame Retardancy

Some filler materials enhance the heat resistance of plastics, making them suitable for high-temperature applications. Filler masterbatch can be formulated with flame retardant additives to improve the fire resistance of plastic materials, making them safer for specific applications.

Electrical Properties

In certain cases, it can modify the electrical properties of plastics, making them suitable for applications in the electronics industry. Electrical and cable insulation benefit from filler masterbatch to achieve specific electrical properties.

In summary, filler masterbatch can improve tensile strength, thermal resistance, impact resistance, and dimensional stability of the final plastic product. It can also increase the stiffness of plastic products, control heat, and enhance turbidity. These are just some of the common industry applications and properties of filler masterbatch. Its versatility makes it a valuable tool for tailoring plastic properties to meet the diverse needs of different industries while optimizing production costs.

A filler masterbatch is a concentrate made of resin loaded with plastic additives in a super quantitative amount. It has several advantages compared to the direct use of fillers and additives.

Why Use Filler Masterbatch Instead Of Raw Filler?

Advantages Of Filler Masterbatch

Uniform dispersion

Filler masterbatch ensures better dispersion of the filler in the polymer matrix, leading to consistent properties in the final product. In contrast, using fillers directly can lead to issues such as poor dispersion of the filler, inconsistent properties in the final product, and increased complexity in the manufacturing process.

Ease of Handling

Masterbatch comes in pellet form, handling masterbatch pellets is easier than raw fillers, and it is easier to mix with base polymers, reducing labor and storage expenses.

Easier to control precision 

Filler masterbatch ensures consistent product quality. Its precise formulation allows for accurate control of filler content in each batch, resulting in uniform properties across the final plastic products.

Manufacturers have precise control over the formulation of filler masterbatch. They can customize it by adjusting the type and amount of filler, carrier resin, and additives to meet specific product requirements. This level of control is essential for tailoring plastic properties to various applications.

Reduced waste

Filler masterbatch minimizes waste and dust associated with handling raw fillers. Creating a cleaner production environment that is healthier for operators.

Improved efficiency

Filler masterbatch simplifies the compounding process, the uniform dispersion of fillers within filler masterbatch improves the processing characteristics of plastic materials. This leads to smoother melt flow, reduced melt viscosity, and better mold filling during the manufacturing process. Thereby improving production efficiency and product performance indicators and reducing energy consumption and processing time.

Lower material expenses

Filler masterbatch typically uses less expensive fillers than raw materials, and it helps reduce production costs because it replaces a part of the virgin polymer in the final product.

Reduce equipment wear

Filler masterbatch instead of the filler can reduce wear on equipment. 

Environmental impact

The use of filler masterbatch can contribute to sustainability efforts in the plastics industry by reducing the amount of virgin plastic needed.

Types Of Filler Masterbatch

1. Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) Filler Masterbatch

Filler masterbatch typically contains various types of fillers that are added to the base polymer to enhance its properties. There are several types of filler masterbatch available, each tailored to specific applications and requirements. Common types include:

Contains calcium carbonate as the primary filler material. Used for improving stiffness, cost-efficiency, and opacity in plastics.
Commonly used in packagings, construction materials, and automotive components, such as films, sheets, pipes, and injection-molded products.
Production Process: Calcium carbonate is ground into a fine powder and then mixed with a carrier resin, typically polyethylene or polypropylene, in a twin-screw extruder. The mixture is then pelletized, forming a calcium carbonate filler masterbatch.

2. Talc Filler Masterbatch

Incorporates talc as the filler, enhancing stiffness, heat resistance, and dimensional stability. Often used in automotive parts, electrical enclosures and construction materials.
Production Process: Talc is micronized and then blended with a carrier resin. The blend is processed through extrusion and pelletization to create the talc-filler masterbatch.

3. Barium Sulfate (BaSO4) Filler Masterbatch

Utilizes barium sulfate to increase density and scratch resistance in plastics. Suitable for applications where density and surface durability are critical.
Used in paints, coatings and automotive components for its high density and opacity.
Production Process: Barium sulfate is finely ground and mixed with a carrier resin, followed by extrusion and pelletization to create barium sulfate filler masterbatch.

4. Glass Fiber Filler Masterbatch

Contains glass fibers as reinforcing fillers, significantly enhancing strength, rigidity, and heat resistance. Used in automotive components, aerospace, and construction for structural parts requiring high strength and stiffness. Production Process: Glass fibers are chopped into small lengths, mixed with a carrier resin, and processed through a specialized twin screw extruder. The resulting glass fibre-filler masterbatch is pelletized.

5. Silica Filler Masterbatch

Includes silica fillers to improve hardness, abrasion resistance, and transparency in plastics.
Used in various applications, including rubber products and transparent materials.
Production Process: Silica fillers are finely ground and then compounded with a carrier resin in an extruder. The mixture is pelletized to form silica-filler masterbatch.

6. Carbon Black Filler Masterbatch

It contains carbon black, which is a fine powder made up of carbon atoms and is well-known for its black color. The primary function is to provide black coloring and enhance the properties of plastic materials.
Commonly used in tires, cables, and black plastic products for their UV resistance and colouration properties.
Production Process: Carbon black is mixed with a carrier resin and processed in the twin screw extruder extruder. The resulting carbon black-filler masterbatch is pelletized.

7. Wood Flour Filler Masterbatch

Combines wood flour fillers with plastics for a natural appearance and enhanced properties. Commonly used in outdoor applications like decking, furniture, and construction materials for a natural appearance.
Production Process: Wood flour is blended with a carrier resin, typically polyethylene, in a twin screw extruder. The mixture is then pelletized to create wood flour-filler masterbatch.

8. Mineral Filler Masterbatch

Utilizes various mineral fillers, such as mica, kaolin, or wollastonite, to achieve specific properties like electrical insulation, flame retardancy, or thermal conductivity. And mineral filler masterbatch enhances plastic properties like stiffness, flame retardancy, toughness, and surface finish of plastic products. It’s used in products like packaging, construction materials, and automotive components.
Production Process: Grinding mineral fillers (e.g., mica, kaolin) into fine powders, blending them with a carrier resin, and processing the mixture through an extruder.

9. Metal Powder Filler Masterbatch

It contains finely ground metal powders, such as aluminum or copper, as its primary filler material. Metal powder filler masterbatch enhances plastics with electrical conductivity, EMI shielding, improved heat dissipation, and metallic appearances.

Metal powder-filler plastics find applications in industries such as electronics, telecommunications, automotive (for EMI shielding), and consumer goods where electrical conductivity, EMI shielding, or unique appearances are desired.

Manufacturing Process: The production process for metal powder filler masterbatch typically involves blending finely ground metal powders with a carrier resin, followed by processing through an extruder. The extruded material is then cooled and pelletized to create the final masterbatch product, which can be easily incorporated into the base polymer during plastic processing.

The choice of filler masterbatch type depends on the desired properties and the specific needs of the application. Manufacturers can create customized filler masterbatches by selecting specific fillers, carrier resins, and additives to meet precise requirements for a wide range of applications.

Production of Filler Masterbatch

Previously we shared the preparation related content of color masterbatch. Compared with color masterbatch, the preparation of filler masterbatch is much simpler. The most important thing in the preparation of filler masterbatch is to ensure that the filler is evenly distributed and effectively mixed with the base polymer.

Filler materials typically have fewer variations in terms of compatibility and processing compared to pigments or dyes used in color masterbatch. Filler masterbatch primarily focuses on the uniform dispersion of fillers within a polymer matrix. While it requires precision, it doesn’t involve the complexity of color matching.

Production Process of Filler Masterbatch

Raw Material Preparation
Select the right filler material and finely grind it into a powder form to achieve the desired particle size. The smaller the particle size of filler, the more difficult it can be to disperse in a polymer matrix. The choice of equipment and milling conditions can influence particle size.

Mixing
The ground filler material is mixed with a carrier resin, typically polyethylene or polypropylene, in precise proportions. Additional additives or modifiers may be included at this stage. This can be done using high-speed mixers to ensure a homogeneous mixture.

Compounding and Extrusion
The mixture is then fed into a twin screw extruder, where it is melted and compounded. In this step, the co-rotating screws of the extruder effectively blend the filler with the polymer matrix. The extruder’s temperature, screw speed, and processing conditions are carefully controlled to achieve uniform dispersion and melt mixing.

Pelletizing
After extrusion, it is cooled and cut into particles of uniform size through an underwater pelletizing system, such as a die face pelletizing system. Or the molten material is extruded through a die, and the extruded material is immediately immersed in a water bath, the cold water quickly cools and solidifies the molten material, forming strands, and finally, the underwater strand pelletizer cuts it into masterbatch.

Quality Control
The final product undergoes quality control tests to ensure it meets the required standards.

The production process of filler masterbatch involves several steps, and the choice of a twin-screw extruder is crucial for ensuring high-quality filler masterbatch.

The Best Filler Masterbatch Compounding Machine-Twin-Screw Extruder

The most important thing in the preparation of a filler masterbatch is to ensure that the filler is evenly distributed and effectively mixed with the base polymer.

For fillers with smaller particles, Smaller particles have a higher tendency to agglomerate or clump together due to increased surface area. This agglomeration can hinder uniform dispersion within the polymer matrix. Fine particles exhibit reduced flowability compared to larger ones. This can lead to difficulties in handling and processing during compounding and extrusion. Smaller particles require higher shear forces during mixing and compounding to break apart agglomerates and achieve uniform dispersion.

To overcome the challenges associated with smaller particle sizes in filler masterbatch production, manufacturers often employ specialized equipment, optimized processing conditions, and additives to improve dispersion.

Twin-screw extruders’ superior performance in terms of mixing, control, and efficiency makes them the preferred choice for filler masterbatch manufacturing.

A twin-screw extruder is preferred for filler masterbatch production for several reasons:

Enhanced Mixing Capabilities
Twin-screw extruders provide excellent distributive and dispersive mixing, ensuring uniform distribution of fillers within the polymer. This is due to the intermeshing and self-wiping twin screws, which allow for remarkable mixing capability. The co-rotating screws of the extruder efficiently mix fillers with the polymer, resulting in a homogeneous mixture without agglomerates. The interpenetration of the screws and the broad diversity of specialized screw designs, such as kneading blocks and gear mixing elements, contribute to this enhanced mixing, ensuring consistent properties throughout the masterbatch.

Wide Material Compatibility
Twin-screw extruders can process a wide range of filler types and polymer formulations, including complex recipes. This flexibility in processing different formulations contributes to the improved quality of the final product.

Precise Control
They allow precise control over filler content, ensuring accurate formulation and meeting specific performance requirements.

High Throughput
They offer high production rates, optimizing manufacturing efficiency and reducing production time. They can process a higher volume of material compared to single-screw extruders, which is beneficial for large-scale production.

Reduced Waste
Their ability to achieve uniform dispersion reduces material waste and ensures a more sustainable production process.

Ease of Maintenance
The twin-screw extruder is robust and easy to maintain, making it a cost-effective solution for masterbatch production.

Cost Efficiency
They can incorporate a high percentage of fillers, which can significantly reduce the cost of resin and improve the economic efficiency of the production process.

COWELL Machines Recommendation

  • Gravimetric feeder/ premixer+ volumetric feeder. An exhaust side feeder is suggested for a bigger filler proportion.
  • CWT Series Twin Screw Extruder
ModelMotor  kWL/DRotation speed  rpmOutput  kg/hr
CWT52-Plus11048-52600/900300-400
CWT65-Plus16048-52600/900400-700
CWT75-Plus25048-52600/900700-1200
  • Strand pelletizing system suitable for filler proportion under 70%; Water ring pelletizing system suitable for filler proportion of more than 70%.
CWT-Plus-Twin-Screw-Extruder

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