Masterbatch, referred to as color concentrate, stands as a specialized colorant for polymer materials. It comprises pigments or dyes, carriers, and additives, achieving a higher tinting power than the pigment alone, functioning as a pigment concentrate.
Primarily applied in plastics, masterbatch comes in different types categorized by applications, carriers, functions, user conditions, and colors. This diversity contributes to a range of color effects in plastic or rubber products. This article aims to provide an overview of masterbatch types, enhancing your comprehension of this material.
Classified according to usage
Masterbatch can be classified into injection masterbatch, blow molding masterbatch, spinning masterbatch, and more, with each category further divided into different grades.
Injection masterbatch is formulated for use in injection molding, a manufacturing process that involves injecting molten plastic into a mold to produce solid shapes. It allows precise control over color and properties during the molding process, ensuring uniform distribution and improved product quality.
Injection masterbatch can be divided into the following two types according to the variety grade:
- Advanced injection masterbatch: Applied in the coloring of high-end products such as cosmetic packaging boxes, toys, and electrical appliance casings.
- Ordinary injection masterbatch: Utilized for coloring general daily plastic products, industrial containers, and similar items.
Blow Molding Masterbatch
Blow Molding Masterbatch is specifically formulated for the blow molding process, a technique wherein heated plastic is inflated into a mold to produce hollow objects, such as bottles. It can ensure precise control over color and properties during the blow molding process, enhancing the quality of hollow plastic products.
Blow Molding Masterbatch is categorized into two types based on different varieties and grades:
- Advanced Blow Molding Masterbatch: Employed for coloring ultra-thin products during the blow molding process.
- Ordinary Blow Molding Masterbatch: Utilized for coloring general packaging bags and woven bags in the blow molding process.
Spinning masterbatch is tailored for spinning, a process where molten polymer is extruded through spinnerets to form fibers used in textiles. Spinning masterbatch finds its primary application in spinning and coloring textile fibers. The pigment in the masterbatch consists of fine particles, high concentration, robust tinting power, and exhibits good heat and light resistance.
The low-tier masterbatch, within these three types of color masterbatch, is employed in the production of low-grade products that do not demand high standards for color quality. This includes items like trash cans, low-grade containers, and similar products.
Classification according to different colors
According to the different colors, masterbatch can be divided into black, white and various different colors (yellow, green, red, orange, brown, blue, silver, gold, purple, gray, pink masterbatch, etc). Among them, the most commonly used and widely used one is black masterbatch.
Black masterbatch is the most commonly used color masterbatch in plastic processing and is also the largest color masterbatch. It has the advantages of UV protection, spray resistance, conductivity, etc.
Black masterbatch is made by mixing the dye and the corresponding polyethylene resin carrier evenly, extruding it through high-energy internal mixing with a precision co-rotating twin-screw extruder or plastic banbury mixer, and then cooling and pelletizing. Different production processes, different polyethylene carriers and different pigment additives will determine the quality and use of masterbatch.
Black masterbatch is widely used in plastic processing industries such as injection molding, extrusion molding and blow molding. In real life, it is widely used in injection molding of automobile plastic parts, extrusion molding of plastic pipes, and production of agricultural mulch films and geotechnical materials.
While both white masterbatch and black masterbatch serve the purpose of coloring plastics, they differ in their applications and characteristics. White masterbatch is primarily used to give a solid, opaque white color to plastic products. It enhances the opacity and coverage of colored plastics, ensuring that the underlying color or substrate remains concealed.
Therefore, it depends on the choice of colorant. Generally, carbon black is used as the colorant for black masterbatch, while the colorants used in white masterbatch are mainly titanium dioxide, calcium carbonate, barium sulfate, etc.
White masterbatch has the advantages of good dispersion, environmental protection, strong tinting power, strong light fastness, high hiding power, and easy operation. Mainly suitable for injection molded parts, packaging bottles, etc.
Color Masterbatch (Various Colors)
Masterbatches are made by mixing various pigments or dyes into a polyethylene resin carrier and are also available in a range of other vibrant colors. The choice of production methods, polyethylene carriers, and pigment additives dictates the quality and applications of the color masterbatch. With versatility as its hallmark, color masterbatch finds widespread use across industries, allowing for the creation of visually appealing and diverse colored plastic products.
Classified according to different carriers
Based on different masterbatch carriers, masterbatch can be categorized into PE, PP, PVC, PS, ABS, EVA, PC, PET, PEK, and more. Here are some common types:
Polyethylene (PE) Masterbatch
Composition: Polyethylene is used as the carrier material, with pigments or additives blended in.
Application: Widely utilized in various plastic processing methods, including injection molding, extrusion molding, and blow molding. Commonly employed in the production of a wide range of plastic products, offering versatility in coloration and performance enhancement.
Polypropylene (PP) Masterbatch
Composition: Polypropylene serves as the carrier material, combined with pigments or additives.
Application: Suited for applications where polypropylene is the base polymer, such as in automotive components, packaging, and textiles. Offers coloration and additional functionalities depending on the additives included.
Polystyrene (PS) Masterbatch
Composition: Polystyrene is the carrier material, containing pigments or additives.
Application: Commonly used in applications where polystyrene is the base polymer, including packaging, disposable utensils, and consumer goods. Provides coloration and potential performance enhancements.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Masterbatch
Composition: Polyvinyl chloride is used as the carrier material, with incorporated pigments or additives.
Application: Ideal for applications involving PVC-based products, such as pipes, cables, and vinyl flooring. Provides coloration and may include additives for specific performance characteristics.
Engineering Plastic Masterbatch
Composition: Specialized carriers like ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PC (Polycarbonate), or PA (Polyamide) are used, along with pigments or additives.
Application: Tailored for specific engineering plastic applications, offering coloration and enhanced performance properties. Commonly used in industries requiring high-performance plastics, such as automotive, electronics, and aerospace.
Classification according to different functions
Based on different functions, masterbatch can be categorized into various types, including antistatic, flame retardant, anti-aging, antibacterial, whitening and brightening, anti-reflective, and more.
Here are some common types:
Standard masterbatches play a fundamental role in plastic processing by providing a broad spectrum of colors without additional functionalities. Their adaptability makes them a preferred option for a broad spectrum of applications where fundamental coloration is the primary necessity.
UV Stabilizer Masterbatch
UV stabilizer masterbatches serve a crucial function in protecting plastics from the detrimental effects of ultraviolet radiation. By incorporating UV-resistant additives, these masterbatches prevent color fading and material degradation caused by prolonged exposure to sunlight, making them particularly suitable for outdoor applications.
Anti-static masterbatches are formulated to address the issue of static electricity buildup on the surface of plastic products. By incorporating additives that enhance electrical conductivity, these masterbatches help mitigate problems such as dust attraction and ensure a static-free surface on the end products.
Flame Retardant Masterbatch
A flame retardant masterbatch is a material that incorporates flame retardant agents. Various flame retardant ingredients are pre-blended with the base polymers and subsequently fed into a twin-screw extruder or triple-screw extruder for thorough mixing, extrusion, and pellet formation. Adding flame retardant directly into the polymer is simpler, cleaner, more efficient, and involves less usage, resulting in minimal impact on the mechanical performance of the polymer compared to traditional flame retardant agents. This makes it a highly preferred flame retardant product widely applied in the plastics and rubber industries.
Anti-oxidation masterbatches provide protection against oxidation and degradation caused by exposure to oxygen. Through the incorporation of additives that inhibit the harmful effects of oxygen, these masterbatches contribute to extending the lifespan and maintaining the quality of plastic products.
Pearlescent masterbatches add an aesthetic dimension to plastic products by imparting a pearlescent or metallic sheen. Special pigments within these masterbatches create an iridescent effect, making them suitable for applications where visual appeal is a key consideration, such as in packaging, cosmetics, and consumer goods.
Glow-in-the-dark masterbatches introduce an element of visibility in low-light conditions by enabling plastic products to glow after exposure to light. By incorporating phosphorescent pigments, these masterbatches find application in safety signage and novelty items, where enhanced visibility in the dark is essential.
Classification based on user usage
According to the user’s usage, masterbatch can be divided into general masterbatch and special masterbatch. Most global masterbatch companies typically abstain from manufacturing general-purpose masterbatch due to its limited scope and poor technical indicators and economic benefits.
Low melting point PE masterbatch is commonly employed as a universal masterbatch, suitable for coloring resins other than the carrier resin. While universal masterbatch is relatively straightforward and convenient, it does come with several drawbacks, outlined as follows:
- The predictability of the coloring outcome is limited: Masterbatch, utilized for coloring, exhibits variations in pigment appearance across different plastics. Consequently, the predictability of the coloring effect is diminished.
- Affects other properties of plastic products: This type of masterbatch will affect other properties of plastic products, especially the strength, causing the product to be easily deformed and distorted, especially for engineering plastics.
- Higher cost: In order to be “universal”, universal masterbatch often use pigments with higher heat-resistant grades, resulting in waste.
While universal masterbatch is straightforward and convenient, it comes with several drawbacks. It is advisable for users to opt for special masterbatch.
Special masterbatch is created by choosing the same plastic as the carrier based on the user-specified plastic type for the product. For instance, PP color masterbatch and ABS color masterbatch utilize PP and ABS as carriers, respectively.
Special masterbatch offers notable advantages, including high concentration, excellent dispersion, and cleanliness throughout the product processing.
The heat resistance level of the special masterbatch is generally compatible with the plastic employed in the product. It can be confidently utilized at regular temperatures. Discoloration may occur to varying degrees only when the temperature surpasses the normal range, and the downtime is excessively prolonged.