As a society, we are constantly interacting with coloured plastics. However from the production side of things, getting the material to be the correct vibrancy and shade required isn’t as simple as it may seem.
There are two ways to colour a plastic; with raw pigment or with masterbatch.
Raw pigments are dry powders, which are mixed with water to to create a paint or dye like consistency (dependent on the requirement).
Masterbatches however, are more advanced.
What Is Masterbatch And What Is It For?
There are two types of masterbatch, colour and additive.
An additive masterbatch is used to give properties to plastic that otherwise wouldn’t exist. These properties can range from anti-static to flame retardant to flexibility.
A colour masterbatch is a highly concentrated product that is used to add colour to plastics. Within colour masterbatch, pigments or additives are dispersed in a carrier material.
By mixing together the plastic and either colour or additive masterbatch, the final plastic product takes on the correct colour or properties necessary.
What are the benefits?
With there being two different methods for colouring plastics, it’s important to choose the method that works best for your product.
As a general rule, manufacturers tend to prefer the masterbatch method over raw pigment powders for various reasons.
They are convenient
Whereas a raw pigment comes in a powdered form, masterbatch comes in pellet forms.
Their pellet form is easier to handle during the manufacturing process, and means that unlike a raw pigment powder, there is less chance of any colour being airborne and contaminating any adjacent manufacturing lines.
Even from the storage point of view, their pellet form means that they are much easier to store than a pigment powder.
They are more consistent and controlled
Due to the form and design of masterbatch, they are overall, far more consistent than a raw pigment powder.
As a masterbatch is a concentrated form of pigment, less product is needed in order to reach the desired colour. With a masterbatch, it is also easier to control the opacity of the finished product due to the exact concentration and even distribution.
They have been engineered for optimal dispersion
Finally, the most important difference between a masterbatch and a raw powder is the dispersion.
Typically, raw pigment doesn’t diffuse well on its own, often times leading to patchy product.
Masterbatches have been engineered for optimal dispersion, allowing for an even and consistent colouring throughout.
Overall, it is obvious to see why many manufacturers choose to go down the masterbatch route over raw pigment powders.
From easier storage and handling to less product wastage for a more consistent product, it’s clear to see that masterbatch is the most reliable and efficient method of colouring your plastic products.